japanese series part 2

As promised, I'm writing about Japanese food again. And since I started with the basic dashi, we're going to make the dish I use dashi for the most, miso shiru--or miso soup. There are so many ways you can alter this soup, but the basic of the basic miso soup has 5 ingredients: dashi, miso, scallions, wakame, and tofu.

Don't let the exotic ingredient list scare you too much. Dashi you know how to make, miso is easy to find in the refrigerated section of any Asian market, and tofu you can find at any grocery store these days. Though I do prefer the silken tofu (House is my favorite brand you can buy in the US) you find at Asian markets to the kind you can buy at grocery stores. And I'm not saying that to be snobby. It really is just my personal preference. But when I'm too lazy to make my own tofu or to head to the Asian market, medium or firm tofu at the grocery store works great.
Miso is a prepared soy bean paste. It's earthy and salty, and when diluted in dashi, makes ... heaven. It's rich and light at the same time. I don't know how else to explain it. It comes in a variety of styles, but the most common are red and white. And you can buy them mixed together, which I find more versitile. But it's personal preference so get whichever you like and fits into your budget and palate.

Miso wasn't a flavor I was fond of as a kid. I know, you're thinking I'm so not Japanese, right? I've learned to love it as an adult, and I rarely go a week without it. It's my favorite.
Wakame is a specific type of seaweed. It's sold dried, sometimes in long strands and sometimes cut. I prefer the cut kind. I just reconstitute it right in the serving bowl. It happens really fast, so it's just easier for me that way. If you let it sit too long in liquid it can get slimy, which is probably what most people who don't like it have experieneced. When newly reconstituted, it's slippery but not slimy, and tastes like the ocean. A clean ocean. Not a stinky, fishy-smelling one.

This might be the hardest ingredient for you to find. It's with all of the other seaweeds, and you might just have to ask for help or go to an online source. If seaweed isn't your thing (though eventually I think you should give it a shot), substitute baby spinach.

miso soup
serves 4
1/4 block of tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons dried, cut wakame
2 scallions, sliced very thin
6 cups dashi
1.5 tablespoons red or white miso (or a combination of both)

  1. In a small sauce pan, heat the dashi. Add the miso, and stir in to combine until completely dissolved. Add the tofu just to heat it through.
  2. In the small serving bowls, equally distribute the wakame. Pour the hot miso broth over the wakame, and equally distribute the tofu. Garnish with the scallion. Serve hot along side rice.

1 comment:

Kristina said...

We love love love miso soup! I've tried packaged miso soup before and it was awful. Thank for posting this. I'm excited to hunt down the ingredients and give it a try!