If you’ve ever been to a Japanese steakhouse, you’ve likely been served a couple of appetizers. One of them is a hazy broth with bits of vegetables, tofu, and maybe even rice noodles; it’s called miso and I’m going to tell you why and how you should make it.
Benefits of fish broth
Each restaurant has a different way of making miso soup, but nothing beats homemade! Either way, the base of the soup is a broth called dashi. Simply put, dashi is fish broth, and it’s not as nearly disgusting as you may think. There are a few different ways to make dashi that I’ll explain in a little bit. Katsuo-Bashi Dashi is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It’s practically a staple. A very beneficial staple that is apparently used to help fight fatigue and high blood pressure according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI.)
Dashi: a blank canvas for soup
As I mentioned before, there are different ways to make dashi. You can use dried kelp, sardines, or dried bonito flakes. If you’re blessed with a local Asian market, you can find all the ingredients you need there. If you live out in the boondocks as I do, you can find them on Amazon. I used dried bonito flakes. Don’t be alarmed if you see reviews from pet owners about how much their cats love the product. Although these flakes are for human consumption, people often buy them as cat treats because they’re cheaper.
Noriko and Yuko at Japanese Cooking 101 taught me, through their helpful videos, how to make dashi. I’ve made turkey broth and beef broth before, but the fish broth is the fastest and easiest stock I’ve ever made! You take a couple of handfuls of fish flakes, drop them in four cups of boiling water for a few minutes, and strain the flakes out. Done.
Miso happy for soup
Once the dashi is ready, I add about two tablespoons of miso paste. Miso paste is fermented soybeans and I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t just drop in a blob of it and stir. The first time I made this recipe, I thought I could just stir it in with a spoon, but the paste wouldn’t dissolve properly. I was left with a clumpy, tasteless soup. Use a fine-mesh strainer to dissolve the paste into the dashi. You can also dissolve it in a ladle but I’ve found that a strainer makes a huge difference and it’s a little easier.
Tofu or not tofu–is that even a question?
Now, I am not an expert on tofu BUT I have made this recipe with two different types of tofu. The first was firm tofu that I did not press and the second was of medium firmness that I pressed for about ten minutes before cutting into blocks. Both turned out fine in the miso soup but moving forward, I’m sticking with medium firmness because I liked it more. I also prefer to add the tofu first, so it has more time to soak up the broth.
Vegetables for miso soup
I’ve come a long way from my 7-year-old self, sitting at the table, arms crossed, refusing to eat my spinach. In my defense, the spinach might as well have been salted green slug slime because that is exactly what it tasted like. However, I’ve learned that there are more ways to cook vegetables! Salted green slug slime is still a hard pass. The vegetables I used for this soup are carrots, green onions, and mushrooms. The flavors complimented each other so nicely. If you’re a picky vegetable eater though, well you’re missing out, but you can customize this soup to accommodate your taste buds. You can either sauté the vegetables or let them cook in the broth and soak up all that deliciousness!
Bringing it all together
Add all your ingredients together and enjoy! This is a very easy and highly customizable recipe. It is also freezer friendly! I made a tester batch to freeze to see how it would turn out. Aside from the tofu breaking up a little bit, it tasted just as good as it did fresh. Let us know how yours turns out!
The information provided in this article is not intended to substitute for medical advice from your provider. Any recommendations within this post are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.