Classic Miso Soup

Miso soup happens to be my dog Lola’s favorite food on earth. Not only does she love Bonito flakes but she has loved seaweed (wakame) for as long as I’ve had her

If you take out the scallions she’ll happily lap up Miso until she dies. I think I probably would too.

The first and most common way to use dashi is in Miso Soup.

I personally love this soup. It tastes delicious for breakfast with salmon & tea or for dinner with warm seasoned rice & sake. It’s pretty much a staple in Japanese households.

Miso paste is basically soy beans, rice, or barley fermented with salt, water and fungus. It sounds pretty gross but we all known fermented foods are actually really good for your tummy.

There are three different types of miso: white, yellow, and red. Red Miso has been fermented longer giving it a stronger and more salty flavor. It’s great in sauces and marinades. I’m going to be using it to make the sauce for Tofu Dengaku in the next few weeks.

White and yellow have a more mild taste so they work well in dressings and more subtle tasting dishes.

I use a mix of red and white Miso (Alton Brown says) but it’s honestly best to taste and mix of few different types and brands of Miso pastes to pick a combination that works for you.

Here’s what you’ll need for a classic Miso Soup you’d get at a restaurant alongside a steaming bowl of rice.

Classic Miso Soup

Serves 4

2.5 Tbsp Wakeme
4 cups Awase Dashi
14 oz firm silken tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
2 Tbsp Red Miso
2 Tbsp White or Yellow Miso
2 scallions; thinly sliced

1. Remove moisture from tofu: wrap in paper towels or cheesecloth and press under a heavy object (a plate or pan) for 20 minutes.

2. Rehydrate Wakame: Combine wakame and 2 Tbsp water and let sit until softened, 25–30 minutes.

3. Bring dashi to a simmer. Add tofu, wakame, and scallions. Simmer gently.

4. Add Miso to Soup: Remove Dashi from heat. I use two ways to add Miso to the soup. I either put miso in a ladle and slowly add Dashi until a loose paste forms then add to soup, or I submerge a fine mesh sieve full of Miso paste into the soup.

Never boil your Miso! It has a very delicate and easily ruined flavor.

I hope you enjoy it as much as Lola (and I) do.

Come back next time when I make a Miso Soup with Cockles. How do you like your Miso Soup?

Dashi; or using food to stay sane and keep the wanderlust at bay

I’ve seriously been infected by wanderlust.

For me there’s nothing sweeter than the exhaustion and excitement of air travel. Anyone else get freaked out by border agents every time? Unfortunately, my next trip isn’t until February. To keep sane, and the wanderlust at bay I decided to try my hand at some international recipes.

The first place I want to explore is Japan!

The thing I love most about Japanese cuisine is the delicate balance between simple and complex. Before we get to any of the recipes let’s talk about one of the most important ingredient in Japanese cuisine:


Dashi is a stock used as base for a ton of recipes. It’s really what gives food from Japan it’s distinct flavor.

Awase Dashi

This is the multi-purpose everyday Dashi most people use for soups and adding umami to dishes. It gets it’s flavor from a combination of Kombu (dried kelp) and Katsuobushi (Bonito Flakes).

This dashi I think has a more complex and balanced flavor. I found some shredded Kombu on the market at Food52 which made the process much easier. The key to making good stock is to slowly draw out the flavor of the kelp. I let it soak in cold water overnight before making the Dashi but you can get away with soaking a few hours.

Making that Dashi is super simple. You simply bring the 20 grams Kombu with four cups cold water to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. After the taking the kombu out you add the Bonito flakes and bring to a boil. After straining through a fine mesh sieve, you’re ready to make Miso, or Tofu, Curry or anything else that calls for Dashi.

Kombu Dashi

If I’m making a dish with more subtle flavors, for vegetarian/vegans, or one that features seafood (I’ll be making a Cockle Miso Soup soon) I make a stock out of Kombu alone. You can either use the soaking liquid (after a day in the fridge) or you can soak and gently simmer the Kombu and cold water for about 20 mins being careful not to boil the kombu.

Iriko or Niboshi Dashi

This dashi is made from dried baby anchovies or sardines. You basically remove the head and innards of the dried fish soak overnight and then boil. Fun fact: when I make a Korean food I use a mix of kombu and anchovies (and sometimes dried shiitake). You could also use it to add depth of flavor to miso soup (which I’ll be making next!)

Shiitake Dashi

This is actually just the liquid leftover from rehydrating dried Shiitake mushrooms. I hope you haven’t been throwing it away! This dashi is a bit too strong to use on its own but combined with the other stocks it adds an unique and earthy flavor to any dish.

Next time I’ll use my dashi to make three very different but equally delicious Miso Soups. Do you know any awesome uses for Dashi? I’d love to hear them.