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Miso Soup

While my mom is an incredible cook, I sadly didn't learn as much about cooking as I could've from her since I didn't take much of an interest in food until after I had left home. So when I wander around the aisles in an Asian grocery, I'm mostly peering at the packages trying to remember if I've ever eaten them at home. Recently, on one such stroll, I decided I wanted to have miso soup at home whenever I want it. There was a section in the refrigerated cases with several shelves of different kinds of miso paste. Not knowing the differences, I just picked one that had instructions printed in English. And while wandering around looking for the dashi (a mixture to make the soup base), I found more shelves (unrefrigerated this time) of miso paste. How does one choose? The miso pastes I saw were all high in sodium. It would be nice to find a lower-sodium version since the resulting miso soup was pretty salty. (though still tasty!) I still couldn't really tell you what miso soup is but it turns out to be quick and easy to make at home. And I'm sick with yet another cold already and the miso soup at least makes my throat feel better even if it's not making my cold go away.

Here's a little tour of the ingredients before I give you the recipe.

L to R: miso paste, dashi, wakame (dried seaweed)

There seemed to be 2 main categories of miso paste, red or white. I chose white (which looks more like a pale yellow/tan color) since it seemed to be the milder kind. I'm not a miso expert by any means and a quick search on the web shows I've missed out on all kinds of varieties.
The miso paste ingredients: water, soybean, rice, salt, magnesium chloride, alcohol to preserve freshness.

And now a few close-up pictures of the ingredients:

L to R: miso paste, dashi in a teaspoon measuring spoon, and wakame (dried seaweed)

The dashi looks like little granules that dissolve in hot water to form a soup base. I picked Hon-Dashi which the label says is a bonito fish stock. The seaweed doesn't look like very much when dried but will expand once rehydrated.

See how there's plenty of seaweed once it's been rehydrated?

Miso Soup

4 cups boiling water
1/2 Tablespoon dashi (optional)
4 Tablespoons miso paste
2 teaspoons of dried wakame (seaweed)
small amount of soft tofu, cut into small cubes (however much you want)

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small pot.
  2. Add the dashi stock if you're using it and dissolve in the boiling water. Remove from heat.
  3. While water is coming to a boil, cover the dried seaweed with cold water and soak briefly (2 or 3 minutes) to rehydrate the seaweed. Don't soak too long or else the seaweed will start feeling kind of slimy. Drain water and set aside when ready.
  4. Put the 4 Tablespoons of miso paste in a small mug or bowl. Add a little bit of the hot water and stir gently until there are no more lumps.
  5. Add this miso mixture back into the pot of hot water (or hot broth). Add the seaweed and tofu cubes.
  6. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Don't worry if the contents of the soup settle after a few minutes. Just stir until the soup looks cloudy again. Proper way to eat miso soup seems to be to use chopsticks to eat the solid bits like the seaweed and tofu. Then stir the soup and sip the broth directly from the bowl as if it were a cup.

Thread at cooking

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I know nothing about this at all but I wanted to tell you that I hope you feel better soon!

Thanks...me too. I already had a bad cold just before Thanksgiving. Seems way too soon for round 2 already.

I found that it was really the seaweed that added extra salt to the miso soup I made - which is a shame, since I love the texture of it!

I have to blame the miso paste for at least part of it. The container says 1 serving has 740 mg (31% of daily value) of sodium. And I typically eat at least 2 servings of the miso soup whenever I make it. The seaweed doesn't taste that salty to me but after your comment, I looked at the label and found that it's pretty high in sodium too. However, I only use about 1 teaspoon of dried seaweed per bowl of miso and the package assumes a serving size to be 1/4 of a cup so I think the seaweed isn't as much to blame for the saltiness of my miso soup. :)

Sorry you're feeling under the weather. Hope you're feeling better soon!

I always forget about miso soup (and I've never been able to figure out the difference in all the pastes, either). When I lived in San Francisco there was a little cafe on my block that had great little cheap dinners. Perfect for the starving artist I was at the time. They never made any Asian food (it was run by a Korean couple), except for the soup of the day, which was always miso (all dinners came with soup or salad, followed by this fabulous cake for dessert). Whenever I was feeling a little under the weather, myself, I always opted for the soup. I miss that place- haven't been in years and years. When we once asked if they'd ever add any Korean food on the menu (was a an eclectic mix of standard American fare-- spaghetti, meatloaf, etc), the answer was "Korean food is too hard!".

Oh don't say Korean food is too hard! I still hope to make kalbi and bulgogi some day! :)

i love miso soup.

and you...have been missed.! =D

Hey jester...I've been missing all of you in LJ-land too :)

The great thing about miso soup is that it's really adaptable, kinda like the chicken stock of the Japanese. You can experiment with adding all kinds of different things. I tried a vegetable one once that came out really well, just carrots and green peppers and green onions, and using inarizushi tofu instead of fresh. Yours looks yummy!

Interesting...I've been sticking with the basic kind since that's the only kind I know but I do adore inarizushi so that might be a tempting variation to try out. I served the miso soup to one friend who said it was as good as any he'd had in a restaurant :)

Thanks for reminding me about the tub of miso hiding in the back of my fridge! I think I know what breakfast will be tomorrow.

And, it's nice to see a post from you again.

And and, did I ever reply to your Boston-related comment? If not, I don't know when I'll be in Boston again, but I'll be sure to let you know -- I like knowing interesting people (and I don't feel that I *know* someone until I internalize their voice.)

I keep meaning to make my way down to NYC too and if I do, I'll try to look you up. Miso soup has been a part of breakfast several mornings for the past week. I'm so glad to be able to make it whenever I want now.

Mmmm. Isn't miso soup the ultimate comfort food? Which reminds me, I've got some miso in the fridge! Thanks for being my food muse once again.

I hadn't realized it before but yes...miso soup makes excellent comfort food. I want to feel better fast so I can hammer out trying to make 7 more dishes this year. Be my muse too and suggest something yummy and easy to make :)

For cold symptom relief, you might want to try adding a bit of whiskey to your miso soup. The salty broth and heat are the equivalent of chicken soup and the seaweed and miso are a source of several B complex vitamins if I remember right. In Japan, traditionally, hot Sake was added to help with scratchy throats, but more recently has been supplanted by whiskey. It's a bit like adding the same to chicken soup in its effect.

I'm not terribly familiar with miso in the refrigeration section. Normally, I buy the packaged or tinned miso paste that only needs refrigeration after you open it. While there are a number of kinds of Miso other than the Shiro (white) and Aka(red) miso types usually found in stores, I really don't know if any of the variants is a lower sodium variety.

Miso is made through a variety of methods to ferment a 'beer' of rice, barley and ground soybeans with brine. The active fermanting agent is called 'koyi' (sp?)
Miso is used for a wide variety of things in Japanese cooking, it is a pickling spice in Misozuke, an ingredient in sweet glaze in mochidango, and mixed with udon noodles, ramen or spread on hot rice to make an inexpensive meal.

If you're dead set on lowering the sodium content, you might try diluting the miso with some mochi flour and ground edamame (soybean) which should produce a soup that is a bit less salty.

So what does adding alcohol to chicken soup do? I had been tempted to have a drink or two today but figured I'd skip since I was feeling sick. Main reason I wanted to lower the sodium content was just to make it taste a little less salty. Thanks for all of the explanation about miso!

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Oh, I love miso soup. Thank you for the inspiration (I've never made it before, either), and I hope you feel better soon!

Thanks for the well wishes...my cold finally went away :)

Miso paste also comes in various forms:

White (shiro)- lighter colours
Red (aka) - slightly darker
And a very dark toned one as well.

The darker the tone the richer the flavour. The lighter toned ones are great for doing simple miso soup. If you are planning on doing the hot pots, particularly of norther Japan (called nabe) a darker miso paste is often used.

A great addition to miso soup is small chunks of tofu... and/or very finely sliced green onion / scallion.

If it is too salty... cut back on the miso paste... and/or the dashi broth. You may also want to consider rehydrating the wakame in water other than the soup, then rinse and drain and then put into the soup.

Thanks for the explanation! It'll take me a little while to finish off my current package of miso paste but once I do I'll definitely be experimenting with the different miso pastes.

Mmmm, I love miso soup. I always got the refrigerated miso, no idea if better than shelf stable.

There was a time I had 3 different misos in my fridge at any given time---I love the darker ones, very flavorful. I miss SF. And being able to eat whatever I want without complaints from the peanut gallery. I must make some miso soup soon.

3 different misos at the same time! I want to try the darker ones but I want to finish off the package (or come close) before I get another box for the fridge. Seems like it'll take me a while to make my way through the whole box. Tell the peanut gallery that you'll listen to complaints if you're getting help with the cooking -- that seemed to work for my mom. :)

i went thoguh a miso soup phase...i still have a bag of Bonito Flakes...I make my own Dashi...but omit the Kombu, don't like that too much.

Translate for me...what are bonito flakes? How do you make your own dashi? (and is Kombu the word for seaweed? if so, I like how I can add extra seaweed when I make my own miso soup at home.) :)

What is Miso paste

Miso is the fermented soybean paste which fermented with rice yeast or wheat yeast and salt. Fermented longer time had the darker color and saltier flavour. Miso has high protein. The production volume of Miso in Japan is about 600,000 tons and about 3,000 tons are shipped overseas.

Here is a website for you.
Miso soup (味噌汁, misoshiru in Japanese) is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called "dashi" into which is mixed softened miso paste. Although the suspension of miso paste into dashi is the only characteristic that actually defines miso soup, many other ingredients are added depending on regional and seasonal recipes as well as personal preference.(mushrooms ,radish=daikon,spinach, carrots, potatoes, tofu, and fish etc.)

The choice of miso paste for the soup defines a great deal of its character and flavour. Most miso pastes can be categorised into red (akamiso), white (shiromiso), or black (kuromiso), with darker pastes having a heartier, saltier flavour. There are many variations within these themes, including regional variations, such as Sendai miso; pastes designed to be used with specific misoshiru ingredients, such as yasaimiso, a white miso for use with miso-vegetable soup; and seasonal variations.

University of Maryland Medical Center website

Since ancient times, ginger has also been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions. In addition to these medicinal uses, ginger continues to be valued around the world as an important cooking spice and is believed to help the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and even painful menstual periods.
In addition to providing relief from nausea and vomiting, ginger extract has long been used in traditional medical practices to decrease inflammation. In fact, many herbalists today use ginger to help treat health problems associated with inflammation, such as arthritis, bronchitis, and ulcerative colitis. In a recent study of 261 people with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, those who received a ginger extract twice daily experienced less pain and required fewer pain-killing medications compared to those who received placebo.

So, it is easy way to make ginger tea or get the ginger ale, ginger snaps, and ginger bread to help the cold for you.

I renamed my LJ account, but screwed something up when I did it, so it dropped my off everyone's friends list. You'll have to re-add me under my new username. Sorry about that.


Duly noted and added you back. Did you move to Texas?

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