more miso, please.

Ever since my last going-out-for-sushi excursion, I’ve been wanting to make my own miso soup. How hard can it be? Miso paste, dashi, some fun tasty things like tofu/seaweed/shitakes/green onions.

All I needed were the ingredients to make dashi: bonito flakes and kombu seaweed. So off I went to United (where I procured salmon for gravlax not too long ago) thought it ended up taking me two visits because they were out of stock for me to make stock. I only wish I knew where to buy bonito flakes in a larger, less cutesy (small individually packed packages) format. Where does the industry go shopping for Japanese ingredients? I certainly can’t complain, though, since I found the stuff in LondONT.

I pretty much followed Alton Brown’s dashi recipe for the timing purposes; unfortunately I didn’t actually have enough bonito flakes (and if I had to guess, I had perhaps 2/3 – 3/4 of 1/2 ounce called for; the battery on our kitchen scale needs replacing). I’ve since found this very interesting article on various methods of flavour extraction, and extensive reporting on the specific outcomes, which has me wondering if a sous vide machine would at some point be justified on our counter top. After the first batch of dashi was made, I saved the seaweed and skipjack to make a second extraction – which turned out to be a bit stronger and smokier (the bonito flakes have a really neat smoky flavour). All that’s left, should one want miso soup, is adding the paste and other ingredients.

When I was at the grocery store, I was overwhelmed by the choice of miso and knew nothing about how they differed other than by colour (white versus red; some combination of both). So I grabbed a container of shiro miso (the white stuff), promising I’d try another variation next time. Other than putting it in soup, I’ve been making salad dressings (see below) and cannot wait to try some on fish. I’m thinking a miso-sesame crusted salmon or something on the grill (tis the season for that!).

But that’s not the end of the dashi story.

After making the second extraction, I couldn’t bring myself to throw out the kombu, and the bontio flakes are easily toasted wit

h a sprinkling of sesame seeds on a non-stick pan with a very modest amount of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar. The kombu metamorphosed into a salad, dressed with a blend of miso/homemade mayo/rice vinegar and a drop of sesame oil. All topped off with the toasted bonito flakes. YUM!

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