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Turning Japanese: Dashi & Miso Soup

misoOk, so, I was SUPPOSED to do a Dashi-Off this weekend, comparing homemade and instant versions of kombu dashi, the kelp and dried tuna stock that forms the backbone of Japanese cuisine. Due, however, to my inability to calculate things with any degree of accuracy–I rely on a calculator for everything, and even then Mr. T has to check my math–I had nowhere near the 30 grams of fluffy dried bonito shavings necessary to make the homemade dashi. Whoops. Instead, I just used the instant kind, and lo, the world did not end. I will still do a comparison at some point, but CW seems to be that instant is permissible. So, a lightly fishy, umami-full stock. Now what?

While you can go in nearly any Japanese direction starting with dashi, getting to delicious miso soup is probably the shortest journey. The result is so, so, SO much better than those nasty misbegotten dried soup packets. (Even when using instant dashi–I know, I know… consistency FAIL. Whatever.) It’s a lovely, savory, healthy, restorative little bowl, and can be just the answer for everything between a quick afternoon pick-me-up to the opening salvo of a major production Japanese dinner. Furthermore, the miso paste, wakame, and dashi components last practically forever. While there is a bit of specialty shopping to be done up front, once you do have everything, you’ll never be more than a few minutes away from miso soup.

(Almost) Homemade Miso Soup
Serves 1 (easily multiplied)

1 1/2 c dashi
1 scant tbs white miso
1 pinch dried wakame
2 heaping tbs silken tofu, cut 1 cm cubes
1 tbs sliced green onion

Break the wakame into tiny pieces. Put them and the tofu cubes in a small serving bowl and cover with boiling water to warm the tofu and rehydrate the wakame. Set aside. Warm the dashi in a small saucepan. When quite hot–almost but not quite boiling–remove from heat and whisk in the miso. Drain wakame and tofu. Give the broth a quick whisk and pour over the wakame and tofu and sprinkle with green onion. Serve immediately.

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