The flavor of the traditional miso soup!
That elusive flavor that you can’t quite name! The one that makes you crave sip after sip! Simple and savory.
Is it the dashi. Japanese dashi is a very simple broth made from kombu, a dried seaweed, and dried bonito fish flakes. The kombu and the bonito are rich with umami and give this simple soup an extra layer of savory flavor.
Or the miso, the fermented soybeans with salt and koji and sometimes, rice barley, seaweeds, and some other related ingredients. The flavor variety is distinguished as it’s how fermented.
→ Vegetarian Tip: If you’re vegetarian, use the kombu in your dashi, but skip the bonito flakes.
Making dashi takes just a few minutes — a bit of extra time that’s worth it for the trade-off in flavor. When making it, be sure to remove the kombu before the water comes to a boil; boiling the kombu can give the broth a bitter taste and slimy texture. You can make the dashi ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to a week. (It also freezes beautifully.)
Types and Flavor of Miso
The taste, aroma, texture, and appearance of miso all vary by region and season. Other important variables that contribute to the flavor of particular miso include temperature, duration of fermentation, salt content, variety of kōji, and fermenting vessel. The most common flavor categories of miso are:
- Shiro miso, “white miso”
- Aka miso, “red miso”
- Awasemiso, “mixed miso”
Although white and red (Shiro miso and aka miso) are the most common types of misos available, different varieties may be preferred in particular regions of Japan. In the eastern Kantō region that includes Tokyo, the darker brownish aka miso is popular while in the western Kansai region encompassing Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, the lighter Shiro miso is preferred.
For restaurant-style Miso, use red Miso made from soybeans. If you like that flavor, try branching out into white Miso (milder and sweeter), yellow Miso (earthy-flavored), or any other kind of Miso you find and feel like trying!
Some types of miso are made from brown rice, barley and other types of grain and legumes, that has a deeply savory, salty flavor and very intense on its own, but perfect when mixed into a little hot dashi.
Where to Find Ingredients?
Happily, in the past few years, ingredients like Miso, kombu, and bonito flakes have become much more available. An Asian grocery store is always your best bet for the freshest and best variety of ingredients. Whole Foods stores also carry a few types of Miso and usually stock kombu and bonito flakes. Also, look in the “international” section of your local grocery store — you might be surprised what they carry! If you’re having trouble finding ingredients, you can always find them online.
Online Sources for Miso Soup Ingredients
- Hikari Organic White Miso Paste, $13 – from Amazon.com
- Kombu Dried Seaweed, $3 – from Amazon.com
- Bonito Flakes, $8 – from Amazon.com
How To Make Miso Soup
For the dashi (or substitute 2 cups water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth):
- 2 cups of water
- 1(2-inch) piece kombu (dried black kelp)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi), optional
For the miso soup:
- 4 ounces silken or firm tofu, drained
- 1 to 2medium scallions
- Two tablespoons red or white miso paste
- wakame seaweeds
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 1-quart (or larger) saucepan
- Whisk or dinner fork
- Make the dashi (See step-by-step instructions: How To Make Dashi). Combine the water and kombu in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Remove the kombu just as the water starts to come to a boil. Add the bonito flakes, if using, and let the water come to a rapid simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute, then remove the pan from heat and let the bonito steep for an additional 5 minutes. Strain the bonito from the dashi. Add extra water if necessary to make 2 cups. Alternatively, substitute 2 cups water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth.
- Prepare the tofu, seaweed, and scallions. Cut the tofu into tiny cubes, 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch on each side. Slice the scallions very thinly.
- Bring the broth to a rapid simmer. Pour the dashi or broth back into the saucepan and bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat.
- Mix the Miso with 1/2 cup hot broth. Place the Miso in a small ramekin or measuring cup. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the soup and pour it over the Miso. Whisk with a fork or whisk until the Miso is dissolved in the water, and no lumps remain.
- Pour the Miso into the broth. Pour the dissolved Miso into the simmering soup.
- Add the tofu. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tofu to the Miso. Simmer just enough to warm the tofu, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not boil the Miso once the tofu is added.
- Add the scallions. Just before serving, scatter the scallions over the top of the soup.
- Serve in individual bowls. Pour the Miso into individual soup bowls and serve. Miso is best when served fresh. It will settle a bit as it sits in the broth, whisk briefly with chopsticks or a spoon to remix the soup.
Miso: Any type of Miso can be used to make miso soup. Restaurants typically use red Miso to make their miso soup.
Here is the good news! If you are a busy mother and you want to make life lighter!
There is an easy and magic way to make a delicious Miso soup without making a dashi broth by using this Miso Paste.
The dashi stock is automatically mixed with the miso paste. It is a white miso paste and good for beginners
Substitute the dashi broth with hot water, add the ingredients such as tofu, wakame seaweeds, and scallion, mixed the desired miso paste.
Serve warm, and it is done! It is that easy!
Enjoy your miso soup!