This is a classic miso soup. It’s based on dashi, the Japanese broth made of kombu (kelp) and bonito (fish flakes), which brings the flavors of the sea to the umami flavor of the miso. I had to admit to Chef Nalin that while we have miso soup often in our household, I have never gone through the trouble of making dashi, mixing my miso paste with water instead. Nor do I take the trouble to strain it.
Chef Nalin does things the right way.
(from Serious Eats)
1 1/2 quarts water
1/2 ounce kombu (approximate 4- by 6-inch piece, see note above)
1/2 ounce grated bonito flakes (about 3 cups, see note above)
6 tablespoons white or red miso paste, or a mix
8 ounces firm silken tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
1/2 ounce dried wakame seaweed (1/4 cup, optional)
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced if necessary (such as honshimeji, namako, or shiitake, optional)
A handful of small live cockles (optional)
4 whole scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
Combine water, kombu, and bonito flakes in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a bare simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for 5 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard solids.
Return broth to a medium saucepan and set over low heat to keep warm, but not boiling. Place a fine mesh strainer in the broth and add the miso paste to the strainer. Use the back of a spoon to press the paste through the strainer into the broth, Discard and large grains that don’t pass through.
Add tofu, wakame, mushrooms, and cockles (if using), and allow to cook without boiling until ingredients are warm and wakame has re-hydrated, about five minutes. Garnish with scallions (if using) and serve immediately.
This is part of the Asian Mash-Up menu, presented by Chef Nalin.
This was quite possibly the best miso soup I have ever had. Now I know what it “should” taste like!
Thanks! For me, some Japanese food has the explicit goal of pulling out the essence of a dish. There may be an extraordinary number of steps to achieve that goal, but the idea is to remove the extras from the flavor, leaving the ‘message’ of the dish. I decided on the miso soup to accompany the rest of the dishes because its a quintessential Japanese starter, and I thought it would pair nicely with the subsequent course. I also was curious about dashi and wanted to try making it!
Like I said, you do things the right way! With perfect results.