Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Miso Soup

It's New York Restaurant Week!  I had big plans, people.  Big plans.  Reservations at four-star restaurants.  And then the snows came. Again. And Again.  Old Man Winter can bite me.  Big plans canceled and instead, my girlfriends and I stayed local and went for sushi.  I tried to drown my sorrows in miso soup. 

I brainwashed my children early to learn to like Japanese restaurants.  I could eat sushi everyday so I needed to get them on board.  It wasn't difficult when we started with miso soup.  In fact, it wasn't until years after they had been ordering it that they asked "what is the green stuff in the soup".  Well kids, that would be seaweed.  "Umm...ok."

Miso Soup is very simple to make at home.  There is one rule: never boil it.  The most taxing part may be finding the two main dashi ingredients, bonito flakes and kombu.  I found both at my local Whole Foods.  You may even find it in the international food aisle of your grocery store or a local Asian market.

I used white miso in this soup and the flavor was lighter and sweeter than at my favorite Japanese restaurant.  I think I would try brown miso next time for a richer "umami" flavor to the soup.  Speaking of umami, Chef David Chang says you can substitute raw bacon for bonito flakes to render the same umami flavor.  I love that guy.  He'll find a way to put pork in anything.

If you'd like to read two very in-depth interesting articles about kombu, check out this link and this link.  In the meantime, warm up with miso soup.

Miso Soup

2 quarts of water
1 and a half pieces of kombu
3/4 cup bonito flakes
1/2 cup white miso
firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 scallion, light green part only, thinly sliced

1. Put kombu in 2 quarts of cold water.  Bring water and kombu to just under the boiling point.  Do not boil the water.  Turn off the heat and remove the kombu.

2.  Add the bonito flakes and let steep in the water for 5-7 minutes.  Pour the whole mixture through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.

3. Pour the strained broth back into your pan and turn on heat bringing the liquid to just under boiling again.

4. Mix one cup of the hot broth with the 1/2 cup of miso.  Whisk until all lumps are dissolved, then pour miso into dashi broth.

To serve, add tofu and scallions.  You can also chop up nori and add it to the soup.


soop said...

Hi. I have the exact same bonito flakes and kombu in my pantry right now, and I want to make miso soup-- I just haven't found a recipe that will tell me how much kombu to use. Do you count a single piece as one of the sort of rolled up wads that come in that package? Or is there a standard-ish measure for what a piece of kombu is. Thanks!

Meredith said...

Yes, for this brand I used one piece as shown in the photo and then broke a piece in half.