miso soup with tofu, bok choy and mushrooms (and how to make dashi)

by Sam on January 11, 2012

miso soup with tofu, bok choy and mushrooms

I’m not sure if its the bikram yoga I have started practicing or that last year was a year of complete and utter over indulgence for me, but lately I am wanting lighter, fresh food that gives me nourishment and feels like its cleaning me on the inside.

I will often order miso soup when eating in Japanese style restaurants and I love the clarity and simplicity of the flavour. For this soup I wanted to add protein but not meat, and wanted vegetables to give it substance.

I needed a few unusual ingredients to make the Dashi broth and luckily the new Asian supermarket that has opened down the road from where I live had everything I needed.  They are a small shop but always seem to have my requirements including a nice range of fresh greens, sprouts and tofu.

Dashi is a Japanese sea stock and the most common version of it is made from kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes or dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna) and it forms the basis for miso soup.

It really is so very easy to make and since I am unaware of any ready made substitute in South Africa, it is the only option to do it yourself.

This is what it looks like in case you don’t already know.

kombu and katsuobushi

The other key ingredient to thesoup is the miso (obviously)

Miso as you probably know already, is a naturally fermented paste made by combining cooked soy beans, salt, and often some other ingredient such as white or brown rice, barley, and so on. The texture can range from smooth to chunky, and the color from a light yellow-brown to reddish brown to dark chocolate brown, and the flavor ranges from mildly salty and sweet to strong and very salty. It is packed with umami and protein, not to mention all sorts of nutrients’.

So gather all your ingredients and make this soup in minutes.

To make Dashi you will need:

    • about 30cm squared of the kombu (I lay sheets next to each other to get to this quantity) which also weighed 40gms
    • 4 cups of water
    • 1/2 cup of loose katsuobushi

Soak the dried kelp in the water in a pot for 15 minutes. Turn on the heat and bring this to the point where it just starts to boil (bubbles will be visible on the side of the pot) then turn off the heat and add the bonito flakes. Allow this to soak and sink in. Leave this for about 10 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve (chinois) and use the stock for the miso soup. Whatever stock is left over can be stored for later use. The leftover kombu which is rich in minerals and protein is commonly eaten after cooking and it is also still viable to make a second, slightly milder stock from it.

To make the miso soup you will need:

  • 3 cups of Dashi
  • 3 Tbs of miso paste (I used white but any would do) ~ 1 Tbs per cup of Dashi
  • a large handful of roughly chopped bok choy
  • 150gms of soft tofu
  • 2 – 3 shiitake mushrooms sliced
  • a small handful of enoki or shimeji mushrooms
  • 1 spring onion (scallion) thinly sliced

Heat the Dashi and add the miso paste.  Use a whisk to ensure you break up all the paste and incorporate it into the stock.  When it is starting to simmer add the bok choy, tofu, spring onion and  mushrooms and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted.

I love how there is nothing vigorous going on in the making of this soup.  No heavy boiling, just subtle soaking and simmering.

I’m not the biggest fan of tofu, I think its one of the blandest things to eat, but I know its healthy and good for me, so I slurped it up whilst I looked in the mirror at my shiny halo.

To a healthy and happy year.

Miso soup

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Live to Eat January 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Wow Sam! That’s very impressive… I’m sure it tasted completely delicious. (And hello, by the way – hope you had a happy festive time!) xxB

Caylee January 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

Amazing.

Rosie January 15, 2012 at 8:28 am

Hi Sam, where is your asian supermarket? I’d love to get my hands on those ingredients!

Sam January 15, 2012 at 8:56 am

Hi Rosie, its on Sea Point Main Road diagonally opposite Absa, just past the intersection on Arthur and Main as you are travelling towards town on your left hand side. Other good Asian Supermarkets will also carry these items. You could also check out N1 Asian supermarket next to N1 City.

Anne April 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Is it possible to have a vegan, salt and sugar-free version of this?

Sam April 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Hi Anne, I am not aware of how to make dashi vegan or salt free, I am sorry. I imagine you leave the fish flakes out, but miso is very salty.

Dan May 24, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Yum! I bought all these ingredients today and search them on what I had on a search engine. Dinner this evening is set. Thanks!

Sam May 26, 2014 at 9:35 am

Awesome Dan, hope you enjoyed the miso!

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