Umami, how I love you.

November 14, 2007

As mentioned in a prior post, we recently paid a visit to a favorite Japanese restaurant and I’ve been possessed with the idea of making miso soup at home ever since. Some are no doubt laughing at this notion – it’s not exactly a complex dish. Your biggest difficulty might be in locating a couple of the ingredients, but after that, it’s just about Pop Tart simple.

As it happened, Google Maps alerted me to an Asian grocery store just down the road from my office, so I swung in on the way home. It was tiny, Korean, and jam-packed with things whose purpose I could only hazily guess.

My shopping list: miso paste, dashi, silken tofu and, if possible, one of a couple different types of seaweed. I found everything I needed, but chickened out on the seaweed. In lieu, I hit a regular store on the way home for green onions and some shiitake mushrooms.

Dashi is instant soup stock made of kelp and bonito flakes. I thought it smelled lovely, but E. pronounced it a bit funky. Once in the water, though, it mellowed quite a bit.

The rest of the recipe follows – for the most part, I used this one, but had glommed on the seaweed parts from another one that I can’t find at the moment.

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tsp. dashi (I used Ajinomoto Hon Dashi)
  • 1 ½ tb. miso paste (I bought the lighter, “shiro” variety – look in the refrigerated section)
  • 1 tb. soy sauce
  • 1 ½ oz. silken tofu, cut into little squares. Or more. Or less. Up to you.
  • thinly sliced mushroom to taste
  • thinly sliced green onion to garnish

Add the dashi to the water and bring it to a boil, then back it down to a simmer. Add the mushrooms and let them go for 2-3 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the miso paste and soy sauce. When the mushrooms are done, kill the heat and let the soup cool for a wee bit. The miso paste is alive, and if the water is too hot, the culture will die. Other recipes (including the one on the miso package itself) said to add it to the boiling water, so your mileage may vary. Drop in the miso/soy sauce mixture and stir gently until it’s thoroughly mixed. Add the tofu, then serve. Yields 2 decent-sized adult portions and several small kid-sized “we want to try it” bowlfuls. For the record, everyone loved it, so we’ll probably double this recipe next time.

The end result was wonderful, and easily on par with what we’ve had in restaurants. It was agreed that we have a keeper, and it ought to come in handy for future Friday night meals. It’s nutritious as can be, and cheap to boot.


One Response to “Umami, how I love you.”

  1. Thanks for that recipe! I have been making miso soup for years and love it~!

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