Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

66 bowls of miso soup

A couple weeks ago I read somewhere that there are aproximately 66 forms of miso soup. There was a list included. Now I'm thinking after looking at that list and looking up miso soup recipes that there are probably more. But it got me thinking. I've been wanting to have more fresh food in my diet, work on learning to cook what is known as shōjin ryōri or Japanese Temple Food. So now I'm tempted to try to cook as many versions of miso soup as I can. Hopefully all this year.

Now I'm not going to make all that were on that list, since a few included pork which isn't something I normally eat. But what is going to be interesting to me is not just learning more about Japanese ingredients, but really getting to know different types of miso and learning the tastes of it. I can't think of too many things that aren't more basic to Japanese cooking.

So, here is the first one of the year. Yes, I decided to try one which is probably a bit more difficult. Nothing like starting off in the deep end. With Kyoto-style Ozoni, a traditional miso soup for New Years. To begin with, here is pretty much what I put in the soup.

a few Japanese ingredients

From the top clockwise, saikyo shiro miso, mochi, daikon, carrot and taro root. It was interesting going to the market and trying to figure out what a few things were. Learning as I go.

So these are cut up and the taro root is cooked first in water with a bit of uncooked rice. The mochi is also cooked in water to soften it, but it dissolved a bit so I think I would just soften it in the soup next time. No dashi is used in this dish. The miso is mixed into water and heated, making a very rich and creamy tasting soup. I would definitely use this as a milk substitute in the future. The rest of the vegetables and some spinch were cooked in the miso soup and the mochi and taro are also added.

Kyoto-style Ozoni (miso soup)

And here is the end result. While a lot of times miso soup is served as part of a meal, this was pretty filling by itself. I served this with some pickles just to give a contrasting taste. Sometimes chicken is part of this dish but I wanted it to be vegetarian. I guess also in Kyoto some places make this with only white ingredients, thus the name. I found different versions of this on the internet, but the main thing was using a very fine white miso which has less salt and a sweeter taste than other miso. So, there is miso soup number one completed! Will see how far I get with this.

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