Miso soup and other Japanese things

So, if you've been reading the blog thus far; you know that I spent some time in Tokyo, Japan. I loved Japan. I would move back there in a heartbeat...radiation not withstanding. Well...OK...maybe not THIS year, but I love the Japanese people, culture, history, and cuisine so much that I'd almost still risk it. I have so many wonderful and meaningful memories, and LOTS of boring stories with which I still regale my family and friend often.

One of my favorite foods from Japan is Miso Soup. It's simple and complex at the same time. You can add all sorts of things to the basic broth-clams, tofu, seaweed, spinach, chicken, noodles, mushrooms, onions...the list is endless. 

Even though the list of ingredients looks daunting, go out to your local Asian market and try to find them. Then rewards are beyond your taste buds wildest expectations!

Miso Soup
4 cups cold water
1 five inch piece of KOMBU ( kelp seaweed)
1/4 cup BONITA (smoked mackerel) flakes
1/2 cup miso paste (red or white-it's up to you)
In a large pot place the KOMBU. Pour the water over the seaweed and turn the heat on under the pot to medium high. Bring to a gentle boil. Remove the pot from the heat and remove the KOMBU from the water. Add the BONITA flakes and set aside for 6 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve, or a few layers of cheese cloth into a clean sauce pan.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You just made Dashi! This is one of the most basic ingredients in many, many Japanese dishes. 

Add the miso to the dashi and bring to a very gentle simmer. This is basic miso soup. To this you can add just abut anything you like: Tofu cubes, wakame seaweed, sliced mushrooms, little neck clams, crab meat, etc...

serve piping hot in big bowls with a side of rice. VIOLA! You just made a very popular Japanese home style meal. 

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