Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(Your very own) Miso Soup

Ahh...Miso soup. That delicious, salty, mostly broth concoction that's (usually, and should be) free at every sushi bar. Seems like it would be a challenge to make it taste exactly the way your favorite restaurant makes it at home, right? Wrong, but just because you can doesn't mean you should. The best part about making Miso Soup at home is that you can make it more of a soup and less of a broth by adding whatever the heck ingredients you want, if that's your cup of tea (it's mine). I like to add a lot more "chunky stuff" to my miso than you would typically find at a restaurant. The soup pictured here contains mushrooms, yams, and tofu cut into my usual favorite right triangle shape.

The most satisfying part of what I'm about to post is the Dashi stock recipe. You can buy the stock pre-made, but it's so much more satisfying to make your own! Plus, it's not even that hard. If you don't count the water, my basic Miso soup is just 4 ingredients!

For the Dashi stock:
5 cups water
1 large piece of Kombu (4 inches or so), see below
1/2 cup Bonito Flakes, see below

To Make the stock into Miso Soup:
1/4 Cup Miso Paste
Soy Sauce

Bring water and kombu to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes. Add the Bonito flakes and simmer 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally to re-immerse the Bonito flakes if they float to the top. Turn off heat and let sit for 5-10. Strain out the Bonito and Kombu. I'm sure you can freeze the stock at this point if you want to save it for later, but mine is always eaten immediately =]

Return the pot of Dashi to a low flame and stir in the miso paste until dissolved. This is your Miso soup! Taste it and add small splashes of soy sauce, depending on how salty you want it. Be careful; soy sauce can quickly overwhelm the delicate Dashi and ruin your soup, but in my opinion it's this tiny amount of soy sauce that makes all the difference.

Now you can add whatever you want to it and make it "your" soup. remember, we're still mad scientists here! In case you're wondering, here's how I made mine.

Add 1 chopped yam and 1/2 block chopped tofu immediately, since the yam will take the longest to cook and we want to give the tofu time to soak up the flavors. Meanwhile, saute 3-4 sliced mushrooms in sesame oil about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1 tsp. sesame seeds to soup, simmer until yams can be easily stuck all the way through with a fork.


Bonito flakes are dried fish flakes. You can get them at health food stores, but if there's a Japanese market nearby you should definitely get them there, it's much cheaper!

Kombu is a kelp-like seaweed that smells very strong. Again, you can get it at a health food store if you live in a place like Santa Cruz that doesn't have a Japanese market.

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