Guest Foodie: T.C. Archer – Miso Soup

Miso soup is one of my favorites, and when I Tweeted that I needed a good recipe, one half of the writing duo T.C. Archer responded.

Welcome to the first Guest Foodie: Shawn M. Casey.

First, I want to make clear that this recipe is NOT my own, but is a well known recipe used by famous chefs. What we’ll talk about how I made the best Miso soup I’ve ever had using this recipe.

The secret to Miso soup is the Dashi broth. Dashi broth is a stock containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented tuna). Yes, you read that correctly, shavings of fermented tuna.

Believe it or not, these shavings are exquisite. When you open the package, the subtle but distinct scent of smoked fish wafts up from the bag, and you experience the compelling desire to dive in and surround yourself with the flavor. I promise you, this delicate flavor will make your miso soup phenomenal!

You’ll have to visit a specialty store to purchase these ingredients. Here in the NY area such stores abound. Don’t despair if you can’t read the labels—they are in Chinese, after all! Someone will get glad to help you if you show them your list. Once you’ve purchased these items for the first time, you’ll be a pro and be able to shop on your own thereafter. To help you along, I’ve included some photos so that you can have an idea what these items look like.

Recipe:

You begin by making the Master Dashi Broth

Items needed:

  • 1 piece kombu (edible kelp) (approximately 5 by 6 inches) (This kelp comes in long, dried strips.)
  • 1 cup bonito flakes (Remember, the strange shavings of fermented tuna?)
  • 5 cups cold water (See, already an item you’re familiar with!)

Directions:

  • Wipe konbu with a damp cloth to clean. I’ve never done this. Personally, I like the flavor of the dried sea salt on the kelp, but I grew up eating these items, so my tastes are somewhat acquired. So experiment to see what works best for you.
  • In a stock pot, place konbu and cold water over medium heat. Just before the water begins to boil pull off heat and let stand 5 minutes. (DO NOT BOIL! This is very important.)
  • Remove konbu, and bring the seaweed water back to heat. Again, JUST BEFORE stock begins to boil, remove from heat and add the bonito flakes.
  • When flakes sink to the bottom, strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. (This is about five minutes.)
  • Dashi can stay refrigerated for 2 weeks. (We’ll see if you can keep from eating all your miso soup for two weeks. In my house, the miso soup does last more than two days because we can’t resist eating it.)

Miso Soup:

  • 1/4 cup shiro miso (white fermented-soybean past—or miso paste as you might find it called.)
  • 6 cups Dashi (Here is your MASTER DASHI BROTH)
  • 1/2 pound soft tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (A big point to remember, buy only organic tofu. I don’t say this as a health nut, but the fact is regular tofu has additives that are pretty nasty. I’ve found that organic tofu really does taste better, and the difference in price is negligible. Also, you will note that soft tofu is recommended. You can experiment with the different firmness in tofus, but I have found that I like the soft tofu for miso soup. There’s something about the subtle flavor and light texture that really sets off this mild soup.)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens

Prepare wakame:

  • Combine wakame with warm water to cover by 1 inch and let stand 15 minutes, or until reconstituted. Drain in a sieve. (If you use the instant flakes you can skip this step. Instant flakes do not need to be reconstituted, and they taste just as good, and you add them last as they simply reconstitute immediately.)

Make soup:

  • Stir together miso and 1/2 cup dashi in a bowl until smooth.
  • Heat remaining dashi in a saucepan over moderately high heat until hot, then gently stir in tofu and reconstituted wakame. Simmer 1 minute and remove from heat.
  • Immediately combine with miso mixture and scallion greens and serve.

Note: Depending on the kind of miso paste you use, you may have to use a bit more miso paste than is called for here. This also depends on your personal taste. White Miso is very mild, so a blonde miso is actually better. Blonde miso is aged more, so the flavor is a little richer. Once you’ve made this recipe, experiment by varying a few of the ingredients like a different type of miso or wakame. You’ll find just what suits you and along the way you’ll enjoy the subtle difference in your experiments.


As they say in Japanese, Itadakimas, or Bon Appetit!

Thanks Shawn! I can’t wait to make this myself.  Remember, you too can be a Guest Foodie, just let me know!

About T.C Archer
T. C. Archer is comprised of award winning authors Evan Trevane and Shawn M. Casey. They live in the Northeast where long, cold winter nights require a roaring fire and a companion of the hot blooded persuasion.

Evan puts his Ph.D. to good use by writing about alternate realities, and Shawn channels the mythology and philosophy she studied during her wasted youth into writing about exotic places and times.

Space travel, time travel, past or present, love (and lust,) transcend place and time. And Evan and Shawn will go where no man—or woman—has dared go before.
 
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