Cooking Local: Miso Soup
CONTRIBUTED BY PENNY VAN HEERDEN
My two-year-old daughter loves miso soup and even enjoys the seaweed. As she can sometimes be full of nonsense about food this is a great discovery for me. Another healthy food that she actually enjoys, to add to her repertoire. The great thing about miso soup is that once you have bought the main ingredients it is quick and easy to make. You can cook up a pot in about ten minutes to go with almost any meal just as the Japanese do. I am not sure that the Japanese would serve a bowl of miso soup with sausages and mashed potato but then again, why not?
Just a couple of notes about the ingredients: The miso paste can be any kind you find at the supermarket. There are many different varieties but unless you are a connoisseur, it isn’t easy to tell the difference. We find that the light brown is tasty and not too salty. Some of the darker brown or redder varieties have much stronger flavors.
The bonito shavings are called katsuo in Japanese. They look like bits of wood or sawdust but have a wonderful fishy smell. In markets, you can see the katsuo, which look like bits of wood, being shaved fresh. This is wonderful if you make Japanese stock regularly. However, katsuo does lose its flavor so this latest find of the individual packets as shown in the photo is ideal if you don’t want to make miso soup on a daily basis. The packets seal in the flavor and it can last longer.
The wakame seaweed is usually sold close to the miso paste. The one I used has dried wakame, dried green onion and fu (wheat gluten). The seaweed absorbs the soup and swells to 3 or 4 times its original size so limit to one handful at a time.
Ingredients (To serve two adults and one child)
3 cups water
2 large handfuls of bonito shavings (or 2 small individual packets)
2 tablespoons of miso paste
Small squares of tofu
1 handful of dried wakame seaweed
Any small mushrooms such as those pictured (optional)
1. Add the bonito flakes to 2 cups of water and bring to the boil.
2. Remove the flakes, either by straining the stock through a sieve or use one of the pictured hand held strainers. Discard the flakes.
3. Dissolve the miso paste slowly into the stock.
4. Add the tofu and a handful of seaweed.
5. Sauté the mushrooms and add.
6. Bring to the boil once more and serve.