Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mark Bittman's Miso Soup

I love miso soup. I love how we cozy up at our local sushi restaurant (it's always freezing in there in the winter), and slurp our miso soup straight from the cup. It warms my stomach, and relaxes me. I could forgo the sushi and just have the soup!

I borrowed Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian from the library, to try and find new ideas for Meatless Monday. Ooooh. A miso soup recipe that didn't look too complicated (none of his recipes look complicated. This is the first one I've tried)! So I ran out to the store that stocks lots of asian foods. I bought kombo (dried kelp), red miso, some scallions, and firm silken tofu. As it looked, the recipe wasn't complicated. You soak the kombu and a little ginger in water for 8 hours, remove them, heat up the "broth" to steaming, and add the miso and tofu. Drop in the scallion, and viola! Miso soup.

For a first crack at it, it was darn good. It was just missing something at the end, one low note (I don't know how foodies describe it). I ran through the list of "add-ons", or variations to the recipe. Mr. E thinks maybe a little garlic. I'm thinking mushroom or seaweed. Bittman's recipe used too much tofu for my taste, so I reduced it a bit. I also tried the cold-soak "broth", but it didn't have quite enough flavor for my liking, so I heated it up a little bit before pulling out the kelp and ginger.

Miso Soup - adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
makes 4 large servings

1 Quart Kombu Dashi (below)
1/3 Cup red miso
6 ounces firm silken tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 Cup minced scallion

Heat the dashi until steaming. It's important that the dashi doesn't boil. Reduce heat to low. Using a whisk, mix 1/2 Cup kombu dashi with the miso in a bowl until smooth. Pour the miso mixture into the pot and add the tofu. Stir a couple of times and let sit for a minute. Add scallion and serve.

Kombu Dashi

2 Quarts water
1 piece dried kelp (kombu)
3 nickle-sized slices unpeeled ginger

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil. As soon as the liquid is about to boil, reduce the heat, and pull out the kelp and the ginger. Use immediately or refrigerate up to two days.

Or, alternatively, you can soak the ingredients using cold water for 6-8 hours, but it didn't give my dashi enough flavor. I wound up heating it up at the end anyway.

That's it. Really simple.

Paging through the book, there are many recipes I'm dying to try before having to return the book. There are so many variations of each recipe, it's hard to write them all down. If I find enough good recipes between now and when I need to return it, I'll probably buy the book.

I really like how the recipes have you cook up a pound of beans, and then use half, and save half for another meal. He does that with rice, too, I think. The "broth" that you make to begin with (kombu dashi) makes enough for two batches of soup, so I have some more in the fridge for my next attempt, maybe tonight.

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