When slush and sleet pile the streets, I like to eat rich, spicy foods that fight off the cold. In particular, I turn to stomach-filling dishes packed with umami.Â Umami is the japanese term for the fifth flavor of "savory."Â Soy is one of the most common sources of umami.Â I particularly enjoy Kuma Inn's sauteed tofu, Thai basil and wood ears in spicy soy mirin. Just up a rickety flight of stairs on the Lower East Side, Kuma Inn serves Filipino and Asian-inspired cuisine. Although the plates are meant for sharing, I can never keep myself from taking a little more than my share of their sauteed tofu.
Both the tofu and the juicy wood ear mushrooms soak up the soy mirin broth. Sweet and fiery, that broth never fails to warm me up. A little extra rice heaped into the bowl is a must to collect the last drops. This dish alone makes a trip to Kuma Inn worthwhile.