Home-made Vegan Dashi and Miso Soup
Recipes by chef Tracy Noelle
Tracy recently spent time in Japan and soaked up some wonderful cooking tips from the Japanese. One of the bases of their diet is miso.
Miso is a very common ingredient used in Japanese cooking to assist in developing the “umami” flavor that the Japanese are so famous for in their cuisine. Umami means “pleasant savory taste” and it is a taste sensation that the Japanese have expertly perfected. Miso paste consists of fermented soybeans, salt and koji. Koji is a mold used to bring out the fermentation process. Different miso types may have different elements added to them to create unique flavors and characteristics. There are generally 3 types of miso available: red (aka miso), white (shiro miso) and yellow (shinshu miso). The darker the miso, the longer it has been fermented and the stronger the flavor will be. Red miso pastes tend to have brown rice or barley added to the base and tend to be a bit saltier and richer in flavor. This is the type of miso we used for our included recipes. White miso pastes tend to be sweeter and are a better option if you prefer a lighter, less salty flavor. Yellow miso pastes are for those whose palate falls somewhere in between the two. If you’re looking for a good general all purpose miso paste, try a white or a yellow. If you love an intense umami addition to your meal, go for a red!
Dashi is the base for most soups and sauces in Japanese cuisine. By adding mirin, sake, soy sauce etc the depth and complexity can be manipulated. It’s a very versatile stock to have in your cooking repertoire. Dashi can be found in specialty markets in powdered form for more convenience, but it is usually combined with bonito (dried, smoked fish) and/or preservatives so its healthier and better for the world to make your own. Plus, it freezes well!
3 dried shitake mushrooms
1 small piece of kombu (about 2 inches long)
1.5L filtered water
Add the shitakes, kombu and the water to a medium sized saucepan and cover with a lid. Allow them to soak overnight (either on the bench top if its cool inside or in the fridge if its quite warm). If you are short on time you can soak for 30 mins to 2 hours instead but the flavor will be much more mild.
Place the pot on the stove top and slowly bring the contents to a simmer. Be certain to remove the kombu just before the water begins to simmer. If the kombu boils it will give the dashi quite a bitter flavor. Set aside the kombu and you can use it for something else.
Allow the dashi to simmer softly for 5-10 minutes, then cool the dashi and strain out the bits on the bottom of the pan. Use as you wish.
Dashi can be used as a base for ramen or soba noodle soups, tempura dipping sauce, in dressings for salads and vegetables, etc…The options are endless!
(for two people)
2.5 cups of dashi (from recipe above) You can also use vegetable stock if you don’t have dashi.
2 Tablespoons of miso (red miso for a stronger flavor and white or yellow for a milder flavor)
Toppings for your soup: Handful of chopped scallions, small tofu cubes, wakame, sliced mushrooms, etc…
Bring the dashi/stock to a simmer on the stovetop. Remove about ¼ cup of the simmering dashi and mix it with the miso in a small bowl until the two are incorporated. Add the miso back into the pot. Add your desired inclusions and simmer gently for 3-5 more minutes. Don’t boil too hard, the soup is gentle. Pour into 2 separate cups or small bowls and enjoy!