Meatless Monday happened quite a few days ago at this point, but I wanted to make sure to write about it because I think at least one of my friends mentioned they love miso soup, but don’t know how to make it.
It’s such a simple, delicious dish it would be a shame not to share the recipe for anyone out there who hasn’t tried making this yet. If you’re a fan of Japanese restaurants, this soup is often included as part of the meal. It’s the perfect simple, salty broth-based soup made from stock (I used the combu dashi stock as my base, but bonito stock is also often used), miso paste, green onions/scallions, and can include any other element you enjoy. My soup included tofu and shiitake mushrooms, but my obaachan (‘granny’ in Japanese) made a delicious version that included these tiny clams called “asari (ah-sah-lee)” and wakame (a more edible type of seaweed).
In addition to the miso soup, I served up some veggie dumplings, or what I grew up calling ‘gyoza.’ For my meat-eating family members, I made the ‘regular’ gyoza which is actually my mother’s recipe. It’s basically what the rest of the world calls ‘potstickers’ (I think), which is wonton skins stuffed with a ground meat filling, sealed then pan-fried.
I found a veggie version of this that I will say I honestly wasn’t 100% keen on. It wasn’t bad, but I found a little on the bland side. The spinach filling wasn’t really ‘Asian enough’ for me despite my adding some soy sauce and sesame seed oil to the recipe. That’s not to say, however, that others wouldn’t enjoy it. It was far from bad, and I’ve got a ziplock baggie full of them in the freezer, waiting to be cooked up some busy school night coming up. It will make a good meal.
Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it out: Benny Doro’s Vegetarian “dumplings” These are vegan-friendly, and very good. Be forewarned that this recipe is more time-consuming than the author lets on. Figure on a good hour total to make these including prep and cook time.
I’ve set aside a couple other vegetarian gyoza recipes that I’m going to try soon … after I try those, I’ll probably come up with some kind of hybrid recipe that I’ll share, hehe.
So, on to the miso soup recipe! Remeber, to keep it vegetarian, use the combu dashi recipe that I’ve liked to above, and that I’ll link to again below:
Serves six, 1 cup servings of soup. Prep time is about 1 hour and 30 minutes to allow for the soaking of dehydrated shiitake mushrooms. If you choose to use fresh, this soup cooks up in about 30 minutes.
1/4 cup miso paste (found in most Asian grocery stores. I used white miso, but if you prefer a stronger miso flavor, you can use the ‘red’ variety)
1/2 cup scallions, thinly chopped
6 dried shiitake mushrooms (or you can use fresh, the flavor just won’t be as concentrated)
2 cups hot water for soaking shiitake
8 oz. firm tofu
**Note: you can add other vegetables like carrots, bamboo shoots, watercress, spinach, or anything else you enjoy in mild soups
1) Place dried shiitake mushrooms in a small bowl. To rehydrate, fill the bowl with hot water and place a saucer over the bowl to keep the shiitake under the hot water. Let soak at least an hour. When the mushrooms are soft and no hard ‘core’ remains, squeeze the liquid out of the mushrooms into the bowl. Reserve the water. Slice mushrooms to around 1/4″ thickness.
2) Be sure to remove the combu from the prepared stock (as per directions in recipe linked above). Add the liquid in which the shiitake mushrooms soaked, and scallions and mushrooms (and any other vegetable you may choose to add). Bring the liquid to a slight boil (not a hard, rolling boil). Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until scallions (and any other vegetable you might have added) are tender, but not mushy.
3) Add miso by stirring it in gradually. Once all the miso has dissolved, add the tofu. Allow to heat through. Serve immediately in small bowls.