I am making barbecued salmon for Sunday’s dinner. A traditional Japanese meal consists of a soup and three sides—the rice goes without saying—and this usually means miso soup. Miso soup can be as simple as dashi and miso, but frequently other ingredients are added to enrich this simple broth. Today, I am adding tofu—that I trimmed off my block of tofu for my salad—a few enoki mushrooms, and some wakami seaweed.
Dashi is a bonito/seaweed broth that is a starting point of many Japanese recipes—there are three methods of making dashi. Miso comes as a very thick salty paste of ground soybeans fermented with a fungus called koji—there may be several other additions, such as rice, barley, seaweed or other ingredients. I once asked how much miso do you add to the soup and the response was “as much as you add”—i.e. to taste.
Karl’s Tofu and Wakami Miso Soup
¼ cup white miso
½ pkg. enoki mushrooms (3.5 oz)
1 Tbs. wakame, uncut
1 tsp. fresh ginger, cut into slivers
1. Put six cups of water into a pot and add the ingredients to turn the water into dashi.
Note: Choose the method which suits your preferences.
2. Remove the tea bags—or strain out the solids from the soup stock.
Tip: The dashi can be stored at this point overnight, if necessary.
3. Put the miso paste in a small cup and mix in some hot water or dashi.
Note: While I have suggested using a quarter cup of miso you may use more—or less—to your own tastes. By mixing the thick paste with a hot liquid you avoid ending up with undissolved lumps of miso at the bottom of your soup. Some miso is also very course and has chunks of soy beans mixed into the paste. Some cooks strain out the chunks before using it in a soup.
4. Dice the tofu into small cubes.
5. Cut the dirty roots off of the mushrooms, and break them into smaller bundles.
Tip: Enoki are about 4 inches long—after they have been trimmed—which makes them a bit long to fit in a spoon without sliding off. You may cut the enoki in half to make them easier to eat.
Note: You may have to cut off an inch or more at the base of the mushrooms. Enoki mushrooms grow in the rotting stumps of trees. When you buy them, they come in a tight bundle, with the debris of the stump still clinging to the base of the stems.
6. Cut the ginger into fine slivers.
7. Add the miso, enoki, ginger, and the wakame to the pot.
8. Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes.
9. Transfer the soup to individual bowls.