Sunday, December 10, 2006

MI-SO FUN(guy)!

OK. So I'm having some fun with the way word sounds. It's the season to be jolly and funny is as funny does. And no, I haven't dipped into the Bailey's Irish Cream(yet)!My children love miso soup. Whenever we go out for sushi, they would slurp up the miso soup with spoons that are bigger than their mouths! They also love teriyaki chicken. Since I was making a japanese dinner tonight, I decided to add some miso soup to the menu. I orginally found this recipe from Saveur Magazine awhile ago, and I usually double the recipe. I used enokitake mushrooms, shiitake, and butter mushrooms. I also substituted mitsuba leaves with chinese celery leaves (available as asian markets). It takes a little longer to prepare the broth, but it's worth the effort.

Kinoko no Misoshiru (Miso Soup with Mushrooms)


Slender, small-capped white enokitake mushrooms, plump brown shimeji, and fragile, earthy maitake are available at Japanese grocery stores (shiitake mushrooms may be substituted), as are mitsuba leaves, which taste something like celery.

Bring 3 cups ichiban dashi (see recipe below) to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.
Add 1 cup each separated and cleaned shimeji, maitake, and enokitake mushrooms to pot, then add 2 tbsp. akamiso (brown miso), stirring with a wooden spoon until miso completely dissolves, about 1 minute.
Remove pot from heat and divide soup between 4 warm soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 mitsuba sprig, if you like.

Number 1 stock (ichiban dashi)
Dashi, the stock at the heart of all Japanese cooking, should taste of the sea. It is simple to make as there are only three ingredients:
1 oz. wide-cut konbu (dried kelp)

4 1/4 cups cold water
4 cups dried bonito flakes

1. The trick—when preparing ichiban-dashi, to be used as a clear soup—is in keeping the stock and the konbu (dried kelp) in it below a boil. Wipe any dirt off 1 oz. wide-cut konbu. Place konbu in a medium saucepan with 4 cups cold water. Heat over medium-high heat until water just begins to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook—without allowing stock to come to a full simmer—until konbu is soft, about 2 minutes.
2. Remove konbu. Increase heat to medium-high and bring stock to a full boil. Add 1/4 cup cold water to lower temperature of stock, then add 4 cups dried bonito flakes. Do not stir. Return to a boil, then immediately remove pot from heat. (If bonito flakes boil more than a few seconds, flavor will be too strong.) Allow bonito flakes to settle, skim foam, then carefully pour stock through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Use stock immediately.

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