Introduction: Garlic Miso Braised Artichokes

Artichokes are wonderful, delicately flavored edible flowers. It takes time to enjoy them and savor each leaf one by one, and so eating them is a fun, interactive experience. These artichokes braised with garlic and miso make delicious appetizers before a family feast, and they're also great as an afternoon snack. I love the roasty, umami, caramelized flavor of the garlic too.

If you have never eaten an artichoke before, how to eat them might not be quite so obvious. You eat them leaf by leaf, one at a time, scraping the tender fleshy part on the inside of the leaf with your bottom teeth. The outer leaves are the toughest, but they get softer and more tender as you get to the inner leaves, and eventually the inner leaves will be tender enough that you can just eat the whole thing. Then finally you'll get to the best part last, once you've eaten all of the leaves... the melt-in-your-mouth heart of the artichoke!

Step 1: Gather Ingredients & Tools

To choose the best artichokes at the supermarket, look for ones with tightly-packed leaves. Splayed leaves signal that the artichoke is not very fresh. However, a few brown spots are okay.

You will need these ingredients:

  • 2 artichokes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I used 1 tbsp chicken bouillon paste mixed with 1 cup water)
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste (I used dashi miso, but you can use any other type of miso paste, such as red or white miso)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (but the more the merrier!)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

You will need these tools:

  • skillet or wide flat-bottomed pot with lid (it should be big enough to fit all the artichoke halves cut side down)
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Spoon, for scraping out the fuzzy choke of the artichoke
  • Grater, for zesting the lemon

Step 2: Prepare the Artichokes

Artichokes can seem daunting if it's your first time cooking them. But preparing them is quite straightforward once you know how to trim and prep them!

First, rinse the artichokes under running water, opening up the leaves a little bit to let the water run in between the leaves as well.

If you wish, you can trim off the sharp pointed tips of the leaves by cutting them with scissors. This will make them easier to handle, since you won't have to worry about poking yourself. I opted not to do this, just because I was lazy and I don't mind the pointy tips.

With a sharp knife, cut each of the artichokes lengthwise in half, and trim half an inch off of the bottom of the stem. Peel off the little outer leaves that are closest to the stem, since these are too tough to eat.

The choke is the light-colored fuzzy hairy stuff in the middle of the artichoke. Use a spoon to scrape out the choke in the middle of the all of the artichoke halves.

Step 3: Braise the Artichokes in Broth & Seasonings

Put 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter melts and and the foam subsides, add the artichoke halves cut side down. Cook until they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock (it should come about halfway up the sides of the artichokes). Then stir in the miso paste. The thick miso paste will not easily dissolve if you just drop it into the broth, so you have to vigorously stir it in to help it along. Here's my method of adding miso into liquid: put the miso paste on a spoon and dip it in the broth, holding it at an angle with your non-dominant hand. Then with the dominant hand, use chopsticks to vigorously swirl the miso paste into the broth until it is fully dissolved.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the artichokes are tender, checking every 5 or 10 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan, adding more stock as necessary. You can tell that the artichoke is ready if you can easily pierce the heart/stem of the artichoke with the tip of a knife.

Transfer the artichokes to a serving plate.

Step 4: Reduce the Remaining Broth Into Sauce

Now it's time to turn the rest of the broth into a sauce that you will drizzle over your artichoke.

Raise the heat to medium-high and simmer the broth, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is reduced to a sauce. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and another thin slice of butter; taste and add salt if necessary. For me, the miso paste alone was salty enough so I didn't have to add any more salt.

Drizzle the sauce over the artichokes, and don't forget to spoon out all of those delicious garlic chunks too. Top with freshly ground pepper as well. Serve the artichokes along with another empty bowl, which is for discarding the tough parts of the leaves in the bowl.

Now go and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Step 5:

Side Dishes Challenge

Second Prize in the
Side Dishes Challenge