Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - March 2nd

It started snowing here - again - so when Cathy spelled out soup for this weeks dinner, I was indeed pleased. I decided to try my hand on something simple and easy: miso soup. I've loved miso ever since I worked at a sublime sushi restaurant here in Copenhagen - I love the feeling of the warm wooden bowl in your hand as you sip the hot soup, and digging out the slightly chewy sea weed with my chopsticks and trying to scoop up the soft tofu without it breaking - mmmm. Don't bother with salmon or mushrooms - I like it plain, thankyouverymuch.

As I've mentioned before, my experience in the Asian genre isn't very up-to-date, so when I found this recipe at the YAY! revived "I was just really very hungry" I was thrilled! I sometimes find it so hard to find recipes on things that are "just basics". How to do a stock (I have found that one now, thanks to Thomas Keller!), how would I get my spring roll paper to stick together, how do I __________ - fill in the blanks! So I loved that Maki had taken her time to let me (us) know just how to get it right - and had found a picture to go with her post that shows miso exactly as it's supposed to be served, in my opinion!

There's the recipe for miso - but to do a proper miso, you also need dashi, the "stock" of the soup so to speak, made from bonito flakes and kombu. That started out somewhat a problem - my local Asian market didn't stock bonito flakes and I was send home with - dashi-granules! Well, I have never! Luckily, my other standby Asian market had the real kind - and, I found out, was about $3 cheaper on everything else I needed, than my local shop.

It's so easy to do, and it's instant gratification. It's warm, savory and it smells lovely - I know, it's dried fish flakes for crying out loud, but I really liked it. There's no muddling of the flavors - so do make sure you buy a miso paste that's worth the trouble - and sip away. As I mentioned, I like my soup plain, but Maki's got some nice suggestions for other ingredients, should you be so inclined. Also, she tells you to stir the miso paste with a little of the dashi before adding it to the rest of the dashi, just to avoid lumps - please do follow those instructions - I forgot and got - lumps! Silly me!

Cathy's done TWO soups this time around - I don't know HOW she finds the time!

4 comments:

Stephanie said...

One of the many reasons I miss Isobune in Oakland so much is their miso: Matt and I have been experimenting for the past...four years, trying to make a good miso soup. See, the good folks at Isobune made their fabulous miso soup Without dashi! As a veggie, that was fantatic news.
We've tried using all sorts of mushrooms to try and get the right flavor, different miso pastes...you name it. We're close, but Lord; do I want to take a trip back to CA!

Cathy said...

Hi Zarah - I've never had miso soup and actually was recently thinking it was something I should try (I think when I noticed the display of miso at Whole Foods). This recipe sounds easy enough, maybe the time has come.

Barbara Fisher said...

Miso soup is a great comfort food.

I like mine with enoki and shiitake mushrooms, tofu and wakame seaweed, but to be honest, I will eat it any way it is presented to me.

I also tend to prefer white miso to red, but again, if red is all there is, I'll have it!

Miso makes a great glaze for grilled eggplant as well. I mix miso, mirin, black pepper, a bit of minced ginger and some honey and use that to baste eggplant slices on the grill.

Zarah Maria said...

Stephanie - I know just how you feel! There's something about recreating a dish at home that is very fullfilling, but actually going back and having the original dish is just well - needed sometimes!

Cathy - it is easy, go ahead! On a different note, I'm glad I'm not near a Whole Foods - imagine my cupboards bursting even more than they are now...

Barbara - Oh, aubergine with miso, that sounds good! I had a salad-type thing the other day with just grilled aubergine slices, yoghurt and maple syrup - that was awesome! I'll have to remember this one!