Don’t mind the TV remote in the photo, it’s natural. Anyways, I’m currently eating vegan for the week and have wanted to try out some dashi variations. Dashi is the traditional Japanese stock that is the base of most of the cultures sauces and soups. Dashi is traditionally made with kombu, a type of kelp loaded with delicious glutamate, and katsuoboshi or bonito flakes, a dried, smoked, cured, smoked, dried, smoked, cured, aged fish. Basically you turn a fish into a brick then you shave it as if you were widdling wood. Though while Buddhism was being introduced to the country people started adopting vegetarian diets and the dried mushroom dashi was born. That all being said, I wanted delicious miso soup and this hit the spot!
SHIITAKE MUSHROOM MISO SOUP
2qt – Water
1 – 3×4″ Kombu Chunk
4-5 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
3tbs – Aka(red) Miso Paste
2oz – Firm Tofu, 1/4″ dice
1 – Green Onion, sliced 1/8″ thick
1tsp – Vegetable Oil
Soak kombu in water 30 mins
Remove kombu and heat until just barely simmering, remove from heat
Return kombu and add mushrooms, let sit 30 minutes
Remove kombu and mushrooms, slice mushrooms into 1/4″ strips
Bring dashi stock to a simmer, using a wooden spoon, stir in miso paste until fully dissolved, then taste and add more if needed
Saute sliced mushrooms in olive oil 3-4 minutes until lightly caramelized
Drain on paper towel, then add mushrooms, green onions, and tofu
I know, I’ve disappeared off the face of the Earth for a couple months. . . I apologize, I’ve been working on building my knowledge and credibility in food. Now I manage a few restaurants, do some catering, AND I will be hosting an hour long cooking panel at Anime Expo next weekend for any fellow Japanese fans that will be in Los Angeles. Here’s the info (yes this is a shameless plug):
I’ll be demonstrating how to make Dashi Broth, Soba Noodles, and Sushi Rice, then preparing a few dishes with them.
This one’s a really quick soup to make that has some great flavors and it diverts from a traditional miso soup in that it uses a chicken stock instead of a dashi broth. It also diverts from the Japanese flavor profile with the use of lemongrass, which is generally used more in Thai/Cambodian cuisine, as well as dried baby shrimp that lends itself more to the Korean flavor profile. All of them come together to make a soup that’s got a nice richness, some sourness, a little heat, and it can all be made in less than 30 minutes!
3 cups – chicken stock
1.5 tbs – white miso paste
1 tbs – dried baby shrimp, ground
2 tsp – ground lemongrass
1 tsp – salt
4oz – firm tofu cut in rectangles
3/4 cup – frozen spinach
1/2 cup – frozen green peas
2 tsp – butter
1 tsp – black sesame seeds
1 tsp – togarashi
OPTIONAL GARNISH – Green Onion
To prep your firm tofu, cut it into rectangles and dry it by placing it on paper towels and patting it with paper towels, having it drained will allow it to absorb the flavors more
Bring stock to boil
Add spinach and peas; bring to boil
Add miso paste and ground shrimp, bring to boil
Add salt, lemongrass, try it and adjust seasoning
Add tofu, butter, togarashi, and sesame seeds, serve!
This one’s a fun one for anyone interested in Japanese cooking, it’s the building block of most Japanese soups, and sauces. We’re talking about dashi! It’s a fish stock/broth that really doesn’t require much cooking, it really doesn’t require much of anything considering it’s two ingredients and water, but those ingredients speak for themselves, and that’s the entire point. Minimalism, simplicity, and allowing good ingredients to be the stars. Obviously for your first couple tries you’re going to want to use the cheap stuff, but once you’ve made a few dashi stocks you’ll want to improve the quality of your ingredients as well as refine your technique. I’ve heard of several different methods of making dashi, and this is one of my favorites because of its speed and attention to the ingredients.
1QT – Water
1 – 5×3 Rectangle of Kombu
3/4Cup – Katsuoboshi (Bonito Flakes)
Bring water to a simmer, remove from heat
Add in the kombu
Allow to cool to room temp, about 30 minutes
Bring water back to a simmer, remove from heat
Add bonito flakes, let sit 3-4 mins
Strain through chinois or cheese cloth lined colander
There you have it, the basis for Japanese soups, broths, and sauces. Remember that this is just one way to make it, and why did I decide on this version? Because it doesn’t require you to soak your kombu overnight, it also doesn’t require you to boil your kombu. Soaking overnight develops great flavor, but most home cooks don’t want to dedicate that much effort to stock, and even though it’s faster to bring your kombu to a boil then cut off the heat and steep it that way, you also run the risk of damaging the flavor of the kombu. By treating the kombu itself like a teabag you will be able to steep all the flavors without damaging any of the delicate nature of the kelp. Theoretically, one of the best methods would be to bring your water to a boil, remove from heat, and add both your kombu and bonito flakes(in cheesecloth sachet), then just retrieve the bonito after 5 minutes, and leave the kombu to steep for another 25 minutes. I’ll try it out, and I recommend you do the same if you want to make delicious miso soup, or shiitake mushroom soup!