The essence of Japanese soup, dashi is a flavorful broth made from simmering kombu (kelp, a kind of seaweed) in water. Wipe it with a damp cloth before using, and cut into strips with kitchen shears to extract maximum flavor. Shiso is a member of the mint family. Look for both kombu and shiso at Asian specialty markets. If you can't find shiso, use spinach.
8 2/3 cups water
1 3/4 ounces kombu (kelp), cut into (4-inch) pieces
2 tablespoons miso (soybean paste)
1/2 cup straw mushrooms, rinsed and halved
4 ounces silken firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
To prepare dashi, combine 8 2/3 cups water and kombu in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to about 4 cups (about 1 hour). Strain dashi through a sieve over a bowl; discard the solids.
Place 1/4 cup dashi in a small bowl; stir in miso. Return dashi to pan; bring to a simmer. Add mushrooms, tofu, and ginger to pan. Simmer 10 minutes; discard ginger. Stir in green onions and shiso.
This was easy and delicious. It tastes almost exactly like the miso soup I get in authentic Japanese restaurants (not the typical Japanese-American places), and as someone who is allergic to fish I appreciated the fact that it used kombu and did not depend on bonito flakes for flavor, which can sometime bother my stomach. I used enoki mushrooms but might try shiitake next time. I couldn't find shiso but thought the spinach worked well.
I was born and raised in Japan so I gravitate towards Japanese food. Miso soup is the equivalent of chicken soup for my family and I tend to make it often, varying it each time. I tried this recipe out of curiosity and loved it! It's more authentic than previous miso soup recipes and I love the use of silken tofu, dashi, dashi and kombu. I prefer the stronger taste of shitake mushrooms. Kombu is an acquired taste-with lots of nutritional value, and there are many varieties (health food stores have many types). I add carrots for sweetness and color. This recipe goes well with rice, and a main course of fish.
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