Trini Carnival: Roti, Curry Chicken and Dal

rotiOur final dinner course was the classic Trini meal of roti and curry.  “Roti” in Trinidad refers to both the Indian flatbread and the bread wrapped around a curried filling to make a handheld meal, the equivalent of a burrito.  At our dinner, we served the roti on the side with the classic Trini-style chicken curry and its partner in crime, a yellow split pea dal.  For the story on what roti means to a Trini, please read, my story here, originally published in Smithsonian Magazine.

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Ravenous for Roti

Ask any Trinidadians what they’re hungry for, and the answer will be “roti.” This refers not only to the Indian flatbread itself, but the curried fillings which make Trinidadian roti the best hand-held meal you’ll find. Curries in Trinidad are served with either dhalpouri roti, which is filled with dried, ground chick peas, or paratha, a multilayered, buttery flatbread. You wrap the roti around some of your curry filling and eat it like a burrito. It’s sold as a common “fast” food in Trinidad (the cooking of the curry is not fast but the serving of it into freshly prepared rotis is) but also prized enough to be served at family gatherings and celebrations. For members of the Trinidadian diaspora, like my husband, the hunger for roti is profound. If you live in New York, it is not too far of a trip to find yourself a decent roti—Richmond Hill in Queens is home to a large Trinidadian and Guyanese community. Trinidad itself is only about a five-hour flight away. But if you are on the West Coast, you’re out of luck. Visiting Trinidad requires almost a full day of air travel. Last time we checked, there was only one Trinidadian roti shop in our area, over in Oakland. It was a musty, dim (as in unlit until customers rang the buzzer) shop, and the owner was equally dour. Even as I paid for our lunch, I felt the need to apologize for intruding. The rotis were pallid, dry and lifeless.

They were nothing like the roti I had devoured in Trinidad. On my first trip to my husband’s home, my future mother-in-law (herself a Chinese immigrant to Trinidad from Canton) served me some curry tattoo. What’s tattoo? Better known around here as armadillo. Despite having recently completed a vegetarian phase, and despite the still visible markings on the flesh of the armadillo’s bony plates, I tasted it. You could call it a taste test, under my mother-in-law’s watchful gaze, with the emphasis on “test.” This taste was the beginning of what was, on that visit to my husband’s home village in the South of Trinidad, an eye-opening journey to a land of culinary delights I had never imagined. On this trip, which happened over Christmas, I was led from home to home, eating a full meal at each stop. I was presented with plate after plate of curried dishes, condiments (including kuchila, tamarind sauce and fiery Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce), pastelles (similar to tamales, but with a savory-sweet filling of minced meat, olives, and raisins) and the rice dish pelau. Since then, I’ve learned to cook a pretty mean curry myself. But I have not yet mastered the art of roti making, and this is a cause for sorrow. We make do with eating curry and rice when we are without roti, but whenever we can find time and an excuse to go to New York, we have one mission: procure roti.

There is no such thing as “going too far” to sate the hunger of the expatriate. When it is for something as tasty as Trinidadian roti, a cross-country flight is not considered unreasonable. So we go to New York for a Christmastime visit to my New York-by-way-of-Trinidad in-laws. There is no Christmas goose or ham on the dining table at this Trinidadian Christmas celebration. When we announce our plans to visit, our family knows to make the obligatory run to Singh’s for curry goat and chicken, aloo pie and doubles, to bring it over to my mother-in-law’s for a welcome feast. But they have also learned over the years that they should check in with us for our “to go” order of unfilled roti. We’ll order half a dozen each of dhalpouri roti and paratha, carefully triple wrap them individually, and freeze them overnight to bring back with us to San Francisco. By the time we get back, they are starting to defrost, but they’re the first thing we unpack (and refreeze), because this is some precious loot. The handful of homesick Trinidadians we’ve collected over the years here is always thrilled when we organize a curry night, and there is never enough roti.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/inviting-writing-trinidadian-roti-12513815/#Zl0Lt1or9MlkZfP3.99

Trinidad-style Chicken Curry

Curry lovers will find the Trinidadian-style curry to be quite different from Indian or Southeast Asian curries in that no coconut milk or cream is added to the sauce.   The result is a more intense curry flavor and a thinner sauce.

Ingredients

-2-3 # of meat on the bone, cut in 2”-3” chunks: can be chicken (only dark meat), goat, or even tattoo if you’ve got some

-Curry powder, Trinidad blend if at all possible

-Rum, such as Trinidad’s Vat 19

-Green seasoning (a homemade blend of various herbs including cilantro, culantro, chives and others)

-Salt

-Black pepper

-Pepper sauce (Scotch bonnet or habanero)

-Garlic, 2-3 cloves, minced

-1 Onion, coarsely chopped

-3 Potatoes, cubed

Technique

1.  Marinate cut up meat in rum, green seasoning, salt pepper, pepper sauce, garlic, and onions, all to taste, for at least an hour and up to a day in advance.

2.  Saute marinated meat in a hot pan with copious oil.  Brown on both sides.  Once meat is browned, add potatoes and continue to stir.

3.  Stir curry powder- a few tablespoons up to ¼ cup- with enough water to make a pourable thick slurry.  Add to the browned meat and stir.

4.  Lower heat and add water to cover. Simmer until well cooked, like a stew.

Serve with an Indian flatbread, or roti, of your choice. Curries in Trinidad are served with either dhalpourie roti, which is distinctively filled with dried, ground chick peas, or paratha, a multilayered, buttery flatbread.  Both are difficult to obtain outside of Trinidad.  You can substitute naan or paratha from your local Indian or Pakistani place. The way you eat this is to wrap the roti around some of your curry filling, and eat it like a burrito.  The curry can also be eaten with rice. Wash it down with sorrel or Carib beer.  Play some calypso, soca or steel band in the background, and enjoy your fete.

Trinidadian Dal

Dal, which can be made with pretty much any legume, can be enjoyed as a soup or a side dish, depending on how thick or thin you make it.  In Trinidad it is made with yellow split peas and made on the watery side, served as a sauce alongside roti and curry.

Ingredients

1 cup yellow split peas

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp saffron, tumeric or curry powder

sa;t and bloack pepper to taste

½ sliced onion

5 cups water

½ teaspoon cumin

Technique

1.  Bring water and a pinch of salt to a boil.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the cumin seed, bring back to a boil then simmer, covered, for at least 30 minutes until the split peas are soft.

3.  Use a swizzle stick or an immersion blender to thicken slightly.

4.  In a small frying pan, heat a tablespoon or two of oil, then add cumin seed.  Pour the spiced oil on top of the dal before serving.

Hope you enjoyed this! Come back next week for the final course in our Trini Carnival supperclub– dessert!

Trini Carnival: Eggplant (Baigan) Choka with Coconut Bake

eggplant

We began the sit-down (but informal) portion of our meal with a starter of roasted eggplant choka on a round of coconut bake (a quick bread that can be either baked or fried).  Choka is a common Trinidadian Indian preparation of many vegetables, most commonly eggplant (known locally as baigan or melongene), tomato or pumpkin.  I love them all.  It’s the kind of dish you should be able to find anywhere, but on our recent trip home to Trinidad, whenever I tried to order one as the filling for my roti at the roti shop, they were out.  Trinis, I’m afraid, love meat and anything deep fried, and come to think of it, the only vegetables I ate for a week were deep fried.  Not always a bad thing, but enough is enough!  So arm yourself with this technique, and you won’t be faced with a similar fate of meat and fried things.  Apologies for the bad photo– eggplant is never photogenic, and in mood lighting? Even worse.

And for a lively tale of bake and more on another Caribbean island, St. Vincent, read Francis Lam’s article in Afar‘s May 2013 issue.  The Trinidadian couple he mentions (thankfully anonymously) are Mr. and Mrs. Spicebox Travels!

Baigan Choka with Coconut Bake

choka bake

Choka

Ingredients

1 Eggplant

2 cloves garlic

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted

oil

salt and black pepper to taste

Technique

1.  Preheat oven to 300 F.

2.  Wash and dry eggplant.  Cut in half lengthwise and place, cut side up, onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Use a paring knife to cut deep diagonal slices into the flesh, but not through the skin, of the eggplant halves.  Repeat at a 45 degree angle in the other direction until you have diamonds.

3.  Brush each eggplant half with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle on a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4.  Roast in oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork, and the eggplant loses its shape

5.  Use a spoon to scoop out the roasted eggplant flesh and put it into a bowl.

6.  Heat some oil in a pan and add chopped onion, garlic, salt and black pepper.  Cook for a minute until onion is just softened, then combine entire mixture along with the toasted cumin seeds into the roasted eggplant.  Add salt to taste.

Coconut Bake

coconut-bakeIngredients

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

4 Tbsp margarine (butter may be substituted but would not be authentic)

¾ cup coconut milk

Technique

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.  Sift together dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

3.  Work in margarine with your fingertips until crumbly.

4. Add coconut milk, first stirring with a spoon and then your hands to form dough into a smooth ball. Depending on your kitchen’s humidity, you may need more coconut milk or more flour; add a tiny bit at a time. Allow dough to rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.

5.  After dough has rested, roll out onto a floured surface to a 1 inch thick circle. Transfer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden.

6.  Bake be eaten on its own, or split horizontally to make sandwiches with choka, buljol, smoked herring, or for more familiar flavors, avocado, tomato and onion, ham or eggs.

Thanks for coming by! This is the fourth post about our recent Trini Carnival Supperclub.  Please visit the preceding posts on the menu, the Spicebox Cocktail, and nibble on fried plantains.  Come back soon for our next course!

Asian Mash-Up: Indian Influenced Char Siu Pork with Baby Bok Choy

Indian Char siew

The piece de la resistance of the Spicebox Supperclub’s Asian Mash-Up was a brilliant fusion of Chinese and Indian flavors in Chef Nalin’s Indian Influenced Char Siu Pork.  Most of you have probably seen char siew hanging in the window of a Cantonese barbecue shop– bright red glistening planks of pork.  It’s a common starter at Chinese banquets and also often served, handily, in Chinese barbecue pork buns.

Wikipedia had this to say about char siu:

“Char siu” literally means “fork burn/roast” (char being fork (both noun and verb) and siu being burn/roast) after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire[citation needed].

In ancient times, wild boar and other available meats were used to make char siu. However, in modern times, the meat is typically a shoulder cut of domestic pork, seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, hóngfǔrǔ (red fermented bean curd), lao chou (dark soy sauce, 老抽), hoisin sauce (海鮮醬), red food colouring (not a traditional ingredient but very common in today’s preparations and is optional) and sherry or rice wine (optional). These seasonings turn the exterior layer of the meat dark red, similar to the “smoke ring” of American barbecues. Maltose may be used to give char siu its characteristic shiny glaze.

Chef Nalin’s version added a few Indian spices: aamchoor (green mango powder), anardana (dried pomegranate seeds powder), cumin and garam masala, which added a wonderful depth to the otherwise sometimes cloying sweetness of the char siu.  He also omitted the red food coloring, which made his version perhaps less recognizable, but more appetizing (and less toxic!).  The Chef paired his expertly roasted char siu with a classic and light side, stir-fired baby bok choy, enlivened in true Spicebox Supperclub style with some heat.  It was delicious, or as one would say in Cantonese, 好食 hóusihk!

BBQ Pork Recipe (Char Siu/Char Siew/蜜汁叉烧) Indian Style

(Adapted from Rasa Malaysia)

Ingredients

1 lb pork roast (cut into pieces ½” thick), trim excess fat

3 clove garlic (finely chopped)

1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil

Char Siu Sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine

3 dashes white pepper powder

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon aamchoor

1 teaspoon anardana powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

Method

Add all ingredients in the char siu sauce in a sauce pan, heat it up and stir-well until all blended and become slightly thickened and sticky. (It will yield 1/2 cup char siu sauce.) Transfer out and let cool.

Marinate the pork butt pieces with 2/3 of the char siu sauce and the chopped garlic overnight. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil into the remaining char siu sauce. Keep in the fridge.

The next day, heat the oven to 375 degree F and roast the char siu for 15 minutes (shake off the excess char siu sauce before roasting). Slice the char siu into bite-size pieces, drizzle the remaining char siu sauce over and serve immediately with steamed white rice.

Need approximately 35 minutes with more sauce glazed at 20 minutes.

Wok Seared Baby Bok Choy with Chili Oil and Garlic

Spicy red chili oil delivers its pure bold flavor to a quick stir-fry of baby bok choy. Accented by nutty sesame seeds, assertive garlic and spicy red pepper flakes, this side dish perks up a midwinter meal.

Ingredients

1 Tbs. sesame seeds

4 heads baby bok choy, about 1 lb. total

1 1/2 Tbs. canola oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Sea salt, to taste

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tsp. Asian chili oil

Directions

In a dry small fry pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Cut off the tough base from each head of bok choy. Separate the heads into individual stalks by snapping the stalks away from their cores.

In a wok or a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. When it is hot and shimmering in the pan, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, tossing and stirring constantly, until fragrant but not browned, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the bok choy and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing and stirring, until the bok choy just begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bok choy is just tender and the broth evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chili oil, stir well to coat the bok choy and remove from the heat.

Stir in the sesame seeds, transfer the bok choy to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4.

These recipes were part of the Asian Mash-Up menu, presented by Chef Nalin.

This is the final post from our inaugural meal.  Thank you for coming by!  Check back in a few weeks, when we have our next supperclub with new hosts, a new theme, new recipes and some new adventures!

Asian Mash-Up: Lychee-Plum Soju Sorbet

lychee

This fruity sorbet was served as a palate cleanser before the main course.  The soju, or Korean distilled grain alcohol, used to spike this was difficult to detect.  Chef Nalin later revealed its potency:

For the lychee-plum ‘sorbet’, it couldn’t be easier. Fragrant, soft, fruits do well with this treatment. I peeled some plums (both yellow and red), diced them, and then cut up some lychee. I froze the fruit pieces and then when it was time, blended them along with fridge-cold Korean soju (about 2:1 ratio of fruit to soju). For a previous dinner, I cut up some peeled grapes, froze those and blended them with white wine, which was also nice. This time, I wanted to use soju because I haven’t used it before, and I fit with the theme. Also, its 20% ABV(!), which may have contributed to the general merriment around that time of the evening.

The soju, which turned this from a palate cleaner into a boozy interlude, was also a Proustian madeleine for the chef, for whom it recalled the ill-fitting powder-blue suit jacket he was forced to wear in an elegant, “jackets required” restaurant at the tender and vulnerable age of 16.

A formative or traumatizing experience– you decide.

This was part of the Spicebox Supperclub’s Asian Mash-Up menu.

Asian Mash-Up: Kimchi Sesame Noodles

soba

The Spicebox Supperclub normally reveals its recipes on Tuesdays, but this is a perfect dish for Meatless Mondays, hence our early appearance.

Last week, we enjoyed a fusion of Japanese and Indian flavors with a delicious salmon course.  The salmon course was followed by a spicy chaser– these Kimchi Sesame Noodles.  Notice the zippy chutney in the corner of the photo– we all decided it went well with everything and kept it on hand for the courses that followed.  Chef Nalin told us that his family had a grand time trying out a variety of noodles for this dish– ramen, somen, udon and others.  They all lend a different texture and flavor to this dish, so you can really use any noodle you prefer.

Kimchi Sesame Noodles

Recipe by Chef Nalin

Ingredients

1/2 pound dried somen or udon (Japanese wheat noodles)

1 1/2 cups kimchi, chopped

1 tablespoon kimchi juice from the jar, or more to taste

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Salt, optional and to taste

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Procedures

Bring a pot of water to boil and boil the noodles according to package directions, 7 minutes in my case. Drain the cooked noodles and run under cold water until cool.

In the meantime, chop the kimchi and combine it in a bowl with the sugar, vinegar, and kimchi juice. Add the cooked noodles and the sesame oil, and toss to combine.

Season to taste with salt (kimchi is already quite salty) and top with scallions.

This is part of the Asian Mash-Up menu, presented by Chef Nalin.

For another kimchi dish you might enjoy, try SpiceboxTravels’ Kimchi Fried Rice.  What are some other ways you enjoy kimchi?  What is your favorite Asian noodle?

At this point in the dinner, the Spicebox Supperclub has already visited the flavors of Singapore, India, Japan and now, Korea.  Check back next week to see where our palates will go next!

Asian Mash-Up: Miso-Ginger Salmon with Sumeshi and Sweet Soy Glaze, served with Indian Mint-Cilantro Chutney

salmon

This is where the mash-up really began.  We started with the Singapore Sling, the iconic cocktail of multicultural Singapore, followed with traditional South Indian street food, and had miso soup made in the classical Japanese tradition last week.  This week’s post highlights the first course to combine these different cultures, with a Japanese miso-glazed salmon served along with an Indian condiment.  It may not sound like an obvious combination, but like many unexpected pairings, the sum is greater than its parts.

The traditional Japanese recipes were all from Serious Eats.  As part of the mash-up, we enjoyed it with an Indian mint and cilantro chutney; not just any chutney, but Chef Nalin’s family recipe, which he was so kind (after some prodding) to share with the Spicebox Supperclub and our readers.

Miso-Ginger Salmon

Ingredients

1/4 cup white miso

1/4 cup mirin

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons minced green onions

1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Procedures

In a small bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients until smooth. In a small baking dish, cover the salmon fillets with the marinade and turn a few times to coat. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Remove the fillets from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Preheat a grill (or broiler). If using a grill, grill the salmon skin-side down until the skin is golden and crisp, about 3-4 minutes, then turn over and grill an additional 3-4 minutes. If using a broiler, broil skin-side down without flipping, until the salmon is cooked through and well-caramelized on the top, 4-5 minutes. Serve with rice.

Note: Use 1/2” thick salmon fillets; raise from bottom of pan to prevent fish from getting soggy.

Sumeshi – vinegared sushi rice

(posted by J. Kenji López-Alt, July 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM, Serious Eats)

Make sure that the rice vinegar you are using is not labeled “seasoned” rice vinegar, which already has sugar added to it. I like my rice relatively highly seasoned, but the sugar and vinegar levels can be adjusted to taste.

Ingredients

3 cups short grain sushi rice

3 1/3 cups water

1 piece of konbu, about 4 by 3 inches (see note)

3/4 cup rice vinegar (see note)

1/2 cup sugar

3 teaspoons kosher salt

Procedures

Place rice in fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water, gently agitating with hands until liquid runs clear. Add rinsed rice and water to rice cooker and cook. Alternatively, place in a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, turn heat to lowest setting, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Meanwhile, combine konbu, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Transfer rice to a 13-inch by 9-inch nonreactive casserole dish (like a pyrex) and spread gently into an even layer using a rice paddle. Aim a fan set to low directly at rice and keep it running during the rest of this step. Carefully sprinkle 3/4 of vinegar mixture over rice by drizzling it over the back of the rice paddle. Combine the rice and vinegar by gently folding it in with a cutting motion, being careful not to bruise or crush any rice grains. Taste rice and, if desired, add more of vinegar mixture. Continue fanning rice and folding until rice stops steaming and grains have achieved a slightly glossy texture that just sticks together when you squeeze them. Keep sushi rice at room temperature covered in a clean damp dish towel, or plastic wrap pressed directly against its surface.

Sweet Soy Glaze

Ingredients

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup sake

1 cup sugar

1-inch knob ginger, roughly sliced

2 garlic cloves, roughly sliced

2 scallions, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Procedures

Combine the soy sauce, sake, sugar, ginger, garlic, and scallions in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce to a bare simmer and cook until sauce is syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Reserve sauce.

Mint-Cilantro Chutney, Chef Nalin’s family recipe

The ‘green chutney’ is a ubiquitous one in Indian food. The classic type is the ‘pudina’ or mint chutney variant. Its a blended mixture of herb (mint), onion, lemon, garlic, ginger, and green chili if spiciness is desired. The spices that give it the flavor are cumin, aamchoor, salt, and sugar. The details are as follows:
Even though mint is in the name, if one only uses mint, it seems overpowering. So, most people use cilantro along with mint to balance the flavors. I used one bunch mint and two bunches of cilantro. Its a little tedious, but I only use the leaves since the stems tends to make it little too fibrous for my taste. If possible, use the smaller mint leaves since the large ones have veins that are tough. One can make it only with cilantro which is quite nice. I use the juice of one whole lemon, along with half an onion. More lemon is fine, just makes it more ‘citrusy’. Thumb-sized piece of ginger, but best to grate and discard the fibrous parts. Some sweetness should balance the tart flavors. One can use a little brown sugar, but I noticed that Sukhi’s at the Farmer’s Market use apple in their commercial type they sell and I’ve started using about 1/2 an apple. Adds a mild degree of sweetness, and contributes to the consistency.
For spices, you need some salt, usually to taste. The cumin is important. I use smoked cumin (1/2 tsp) which is more intense. (Take cumin seeds and brown them on a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan. Shake frequently. The cumin should be browned but not too dark. Then grind to fine powder.) The aamchoor adds a undertone of tangy flavor. ‘Aam’ is mango, and the spice is actually ground mango stones. Obviously add to taste; I use about a teaspoon. One can also add other spices such as garam masala, or chaat masala (pre-mixed spice combinations that add complexity) to taste. I think I used a dash of each. For ‘heat’, add green chilies, or red chili flakes. Most people would add some but it isn’t essential. I didn’t use any for our dinner.
So, toss everything in a blender and off you go. You’ll need to add some water as well to get things going. Don’t add too much water, or overblend it, it’ll shouldn’t get too watery; it should have some body. If you let it sit overnight, it’ll taste better. It keeps pretty well because the lemon makes it a little acidic.

This is part of the Asian Mash-Up menu, presented by Chef Nalin.

What other unexpected cuisines have you combined? What worked well? What didn’t work well?

Asian Mash-Up: Miso Soup

miso

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.

Miso Soup

(from Serious Eats)

Ingredients

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)

Procedures

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.