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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Miso Soup + Seaweed Harvest for Outdoor Wedensday



"Tis the season to be jolly...." True, but wretched excess robs the body of strength and the mind of clarity. That's scary because the holiday season has only just begun and weeks of revelry remain before the firm resolve of the New Year kicks in. Eating sensibly can be difficult and its hard to find nutritional balance on holiday tables. Truth be told, I don't always look for balance, but I do watch what I eat. It's not a diet in the true sense of the word, but when I know dinner will be heavy, lunch will be light, sometimes very light. While I know there are celebrities who advocate regimes of fast and purge, that's not my style. I have to eat something. My something can be light and the portion can be small but it has to be there or my inner diva surfaces. Even I don't like her much. To keep her quiet, I made miso soup for lunch today. In Japan miso soup is a culinary staple. It is very light and usually served at the beginning of a meal. The soup, developed by Buddhist monks in the 7th century, was a favorite of Samurai warriors who chose it for its nutritional content. It is still a favorite in Japan today where it is called misoshiru. The soup is made with a stock called dashi and a soft miso paste. Other ingredients can be added according to whim or availability. Miso paste is made from a mixture of soybeans, a starch such as rice or barley, salt, a smidge of water and yeast. Fortunately, miso paste can be found in most large grocery stores. It comes in four forms: red, white, barley, and soybean. I use a commercially available white miso to make my soup. Unfortunately, I have to make my own dashi. While that's not hard to do, it requires some forethought and advanced planning. When I make it, I make lots and freeze it. If you are unable to get the ingredients for dashi, a vegetable or chicken broth can be used. I add very little else to my soup. I usually settle on a handful of green onions, some Wakame seaweed and tofu. While it is not necessary, I add tofu to "beef" up the protein content of my soup.







Wakame is an edible seaweed that can be farmed or harvested from the ocean. It is high in nutrients and low in fat and cholesterol and, when fresh, is a glorious leafy green in color. I have no access to fresh Wakame, so, I use a dried, dehydrated form. Today's recipe is a two step procedure. The first recipe is for dashi, a Japanese fish stock. The second is for the soup itself. I know it's hard to make something from scratch when dehydrated packets of it are available in grocery stores. I make my own to keep a handle on the sodium content of my soup. I hope you'll give this version a try. Here are the two recipes.


Dashi - Japanese Fish Stock

Ingredients:

4 cups cold water
1 (6-inch) piece konbu (edible kelp), cut into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup bonito flakes (bonito is a member of the mackeral family)

Directions:
Put water and konbu in a pan. Let konbu soak for 20 minutes. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in bonito flakes and remove from heat. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Press and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Yield: 4 cups.

Miso Soup

Ingredients:
4 cups hot dashi (see above)
1/3 cup miso paste
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 cup medium-firm tofu
2-1/2 tablespoons pre-soaked Wakame seaweed

Directions:
Bring miso to a simmer. Slowly spoon miso paste into soup. Do not boil. Stir in softened Wakame, green onions and tofu. Serve hot: Yield: 4 cups.

You might also enjoy these recipes:
Japanese Clear Soup with Carrots and Daikon Flowers - Kahakai Kitchen
Nabeyaki Udon - Tasty Trix
Vegetable Wonton Soup - Seriously Soupy
Soba Noodle Soup - The Hunger Struck
Chinese Egg Drop Soup - Curious Eats
Tom Yum Goong - Las Vegas Food Adventures

This is being linked to:
Outdoor Wednesday - A Southern Daydreamer

45 comments:

Jennifer said...

This is great! thanks! I loooove miso soup and this will go perfect with my homemade sushi!

xoXOxo
Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Mary, I just feel like I have been to cooking school. What a wonderfully informative post!
I would probably have not thought to make Miso Soup, but with your recommendation... you never know!
Yvonne

Nisrine | Dinners and Dreams said...

Lovely broth with sweet and flavorful miso.

Michael Toa said...

I love miso soup. It's so comforting, delicious and healthy too. What not to like?
Have a great day. Michael

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

What an interesting post Mary. You never fail to tweak my interests in cooking new and interesting things. hugs ~lynne~

Jane said...

This is a wonderful recipe and an informative post. I probably wouldn't advise admiring celebries who fast and purge, but a light sensible nourishing meal is a very good thing over the holidays.

Kari said...

That soup sounds really good. Some of the ingredients I've never cooked with so I'm bookmarking it to try:)

Ginny said...

I have never seen Miso soup before. It is also a big favorite among celebrities. Soup may be my favorite food.

ann said...

Such an interesting post! The excess of the season is already getting to me. This would be a nice soothing soup to make.

Linda Starr said...

This is definitely soup weather. Whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant I always get miso soup, thanks for the recipe on how to make it. Love the photos of the seaweed drying in the sun, interesting how it is harvested. I've read that it had many good nutrients in it and in pottery folks search for seaweed to use in the pit firings because all the chemical make many different colors on the pottery.

penny aka jeroxie said...

Weekdays miso soup is so good. Thanks for sharing the information.

kitchen flavours said...

Miso soup is my family's favourite Japanese soup! Love this!

RyHeAnNe said...

Never tried this soup yet,..

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Miso soup is my family's favourite too!

Priya said...

Delicious miso soup...

EliFla said...

It's always interesting reading your post!!I'm learning a lot of things...thank you mAry...have a nice day, hugs, Flavia

Jenn said...

I love miso soup.. it's one of my favorites. I especially love it when I'm feeling run down. Thanks for lesson on seaweed too! I love learning new things like that!

From the Kitchen said...

I like miso soup and what a good light lunch (in anticipation of holiday dinners) it makes. I'm quite happy to have your stock recipe. I never seen the flaked bonito but have never looked for it.

Now, do you have a recipe for seaweed salad?

Best,
Bonnie

Kim said...

Mary - Thanks for sharing the pictures of the seaweed harvesting. I've never cooked with wakame, but would love to give it a go. Looks like a beautiful soup.

Pete said...

good to have a hot bowl of miso soup on a cool day!

Donnie said...

I love Miso in a restaurant but have never made it at home. I would have to buy most everything on the list so I'll see after the first of the year. Take care.

Y. Ikeda said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I am impressed at your recipe! I, as Japanese, always use dashi (= dried powder base containing katsuo/bonito and wakame/seaweed that are available at any supermarket. Yes, it is important NOT to boil after adding miso paste. My favorite topping is a mushroom (shimeji).
Thanks for sharing and have a nice miso soup.
Yoshi

NatureFootstep said...

If I am not wrong, this is the food for the future. :)

Faith said...

This is so healthy and full of nutrients...it looks like the perfect meal to re-energize during the holidays! Thanks for sharing, Mary!

Gloria said...

Lovely soup dear Mary! x gloria

StephenC said...

You are spot on about the sodium in the packets of instant dashi. If a person gets some wakame and some bonito flakes they last for a long, long time. There's nothing hard about making it (as you know), it's mostly about - do you have what you need in the pantry.

Kelly said...

I love miso soup though it occurs to me I have never made it at home. It also occurs to me that the last time I bought miso paste I have no idea what kind I bought! I used to buy it at Whole Foods, but I find it is so much cheaper at the Korean grocer (H Mart). Only problem, most things are not in English so half the time I have NO idea what I am buying.

***Icy BC said...

This soup makes me so hungry, and also gives me a warm in my tummy just to see it..

bunny The Paris House said...

I love Miso soup and this is such an informative post..its funny even though it is Christmas time I am really craving healthy food. I'm baking but still caring for my body with tofu, ginger and a lot of Thai and Asian inspired food that really makes me feel so good and healthy
xx

Rita said...

I found out Miso soups are not all created equal; I have tasted some really good and some very ,,,,.
First time I get to understand how it is made; thank you so much for sharing this Mary.
Rita

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I always order Miso soup when I dine in a Japenese restaurant. It is delicious. I always wonder about the sodium content, however, as I usually like to keep that under control if possible. If I can find the ingredients locally I will try to make your version of Miso, Mary. It sounds delcious!

Angie's Recipes said...

Mary, you cook so well! The soup looks so good!

The Blonde Duck said...

Mu husband loves this soup!

teresa said...

oh i'm with you, i can't skip meals, i have to eat something, even if it's something light and delicious like this soup! and i loved learning about the seaweed!

Vittle me this... said...

this looks great!

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Miso soup is really good for you but have to always look for the low sodium one to really enjoy it. Great info on seaweed! The Japanese longevity has a lot to do with their food and lifestyle I must say! Thanks for sharing! Happy holidays to you!

Peggy said...

Miso soup is one of my favorites! I love it's clean, fresh taste and it definitely warms me up on cold nights like these!

Victor said...

I had dashi yesterday. It tasted so good that I wanted to make my own version of it.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

Very good information. Thanks! My friend Chan wrote about wakame. There are many healthy foods we need to make ourselves familiar with. I recently tried Yuca root. Yum.

Greenearth said...

Love that recipe.

Sara Chapman in Seattle, USA said...

I must be a real food nut because those scads of seaweed on the beach look yummy to me! Wish hubby liked seaweed or tofu. Sigh.

Monet said...

What a beautiful post! I've enjoyed miso soup for quite some time but I just loved learning about the history behind those warm bowls and seeing that seaweed drying in the wind. I hope you have a wonderful end to your week. Thank you for brightening my day!

Lucie said...

Great post! I have miso quite often--it's a great simple soup when you need some warmth.

Valérie said...

This is one of my favourite soups. Homemade dashi tastes so much better, doesn't it?

Foodessa said...

Although, incredibly interested in your well written post Mary I've never really been a fan of Miso soup. Maybe, I still was not served the best one yet ;o)

It was a interesting read and fab pics.

Flavourful wishes,
Claudia

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