I used to be under the mistaken impression that miso soup simply consisted of hot water, miso paste, and any “extras” the cook desires (cubed tofu, seaweed, sliced green onions). When I tested this theory, however, I ended up with the saddest bowl of miso soup I had ever tasted. It had the characteristic saltiness, yes, but the flavor was very one-dimensional. A little internet research yielded information on the missing ingredient: dashi. A tasty broth, dashi is the backbone to any good miso soup; it’s where the lovely umami flavor comes from. And it turns out to be surprisingly easy to make. I found the necessary ingredients on a quick trip to the asian grocery store.
Plus a little something extra.
It can be intimidating to cook foods from different cultures, but dashi is a good way to start with Japanese food. I am a complete novice when it comes to Japanese cuisine, but I found this recipe to be surprisingly simple. In less than half an hour, you will have a delicious, savory broth that can be used for miso soup or for cooking rice. I used mine to make mushroom rice (it’s just what it sounds like: rice, shiitake mushrooms, dashi, and some soy sauce for good measure). I definitely plan to experiment more and will be posting the successes here! Enjoy!
makes 8 cups
from Alton Brown’s recipe
- 2 (4-inch) square pieces of kombu
- 10 cups water
- 2 cups bonito flakes
Place kombu and water in a large saucepan and let sit for about 20 minutes.
Place over medium heat and remove kombu before the water boils. You can tell it’s time to remove it when small bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the water around the side of the pan.
Add the bonito flakes and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Use a fine sieve or mesh to strain the broth.
On another note, do you know what you shouldn’t do? When baking an eggplant, you should not take it out of the oven and decide you can make it cool down more quickly if you run it and the glass baking dish under cold water. Don’t do that.