The flavor of miso soup
That elusive flavor that you can’t quite name? The one that makes you crave sip after sip? It’s a 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.
→ 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.)
- What is Miso soup
- Types of Miso paste
- What are the ingredients of miso soup
- Where to find the ingredients
- How to make delicious yet straightforward miso soup
What is Miso Soup
Miso soup (味噌汁, misoshiru) is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a dashi stock into which softened miso paste is mixed. Also, many optional ingredients may be added depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and personal preference
Types of Miso Paste
Miso is the central ingredient in making miso soup. It is a fermented paste made from soybeans, but can also be made from brown rice, barley, and many other grains and legumes. It has a deeply savory, salty flavor — very intense on its own, but perfect when mixed into a little hot dashi.
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!
What are the ingredients of Miso Soup
According to Japanese custom, ingredients are chosen to reflect the seasons and to provide contrasts of color, texture, and flavor. Thus Negi and tofu, a strongly flavored part mixed with a mildly flavored ingredient, are often combined.
Ingredients that float, such as wakame seaweed, and ingredients that sink, such as potatoes, are also mixed. Components may include mushrooms, potatoes, seaweed, onion, shrimp, fish, clams, and sliced daikon.
Nearly any Japanese ingredient is added to some type of miso soup. However, typical miso soup recipes contain a small number of additional elements beyond dashi stock and Miso.
If pork is added to miso soup, it is called Tonjiru, meaning “pork soup.”
Hearty and robust cold-weather variations may include daikon, deep-fried tofu called abura-age, potatoes, onions, and dark miso varieties. Lighter changes are better suited for spring or summer months and made with ingredients like bok choy, kale, and chard.
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 Simple yet Delicious Miso Soup
For the dashi
- 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 suitable 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!
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