You ever get a song stuck in your head that just doesn’t really quite belong there? For me it’s either “Baby got Back” by Sir Mix a Lot, any number of songs from the Lion King (MUFASA!!!!!!), the theme music from Tetris or “Me So Horny” by 2 Live Crew. Toss in a smattering of Glee songs, a few Ani DeFranco and Twenty One Pilots and I’m pretty sure that my internal musical soundtrack would be enough to have me committed to an acute psychiatric facility for a very very very long time *twitch*. That and my random Snapchat videos of me chasing my husband around the apartment with giant wooden nipple clamps. I like to keep it exciting and slightly scary at times ^.^
The only thing I think which is more bipolar than my greatest hits is the weather in St. Louis. I’m pretty sure that we are one of the few cities that in a single day can experience every single season in the matter of 45 minutes. If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes it will change. That held true this weekend considering it snowed on Saturday and yesterday and today is going to be low to mid 30’s when last week we were pushing 80 degrees. And they say that humans have no direct impact on global warming and CO2 emissions are myth and legend..BAH! But the great thing about the weather here being so flippant and as unpredictable as me is that it can prolong my most favorite food season. Soup season. Yes we have a soup season. It goes, spring, soup, summer, cold soup, fall, cold & warm soup, winter, all the soup. There really isn’t a wrong time of the year to have soup. Hot creamy tomato soup during the rainy days of spring, cold gazpacho during the hot dog days of summer, roasted potato soup in winter. Soup is good all the time. And if you don’t think it’s good it’s a sure sign and indicator that you either are a communist, a member of a secret society hellbent on systematically eliminating all things soup based or just an asshole! Soup is wonderful and because of its existence has created several lovable characters and been the focal point on some of our most iconic pieces of art. So yes if you’re anti soup you’re a horrible, horrible individual and you don’t deserve any sort of happiness in your bleak soupless lives!
For those of us who do enjoy soup we have our personal favorites which are our standard go to’s. When it’s rainy and gray outside I like to wrap myself up in a hot bowl of tomato soup with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. When the weather calls for below freezing temps which hey that is probably going to happen at like noon today with it being sunny and hot by 3 then I like a bowl of my father’s potato soup with a slice of foccacia bread. When I go out for sushi I ALWAYS have to have a bowl of miso soup. My standard order at Panera is broccoli cheddar with a piece of crusty french bread. Now I have had to experience the bitterness of a bad bowl of soup. Just last week I ordered lunch and was eager to have a bowl of broccoli cheddar from a local sandwich shop and had to be an unwilling participant in some nasty chalky garbage. It was horrible and like cole slaw found its rightful place in the trash next to my empty coffee cup and a tear-stained receipt from said sandwich shop. But one bad bowl of soup does not a soup hater make. You have to have something deeply wrong with you to not be able to let yourself enjoy a bowl full of goodness. Pretty sure soup haters weren’t hugged enough in their childhood. That seems to be the most appropriate answer right? But yes meals aren’t really a meal without a bowl of soup for me either as a starter or even as the entire meal. Mmmmm souuuuuup.
This weekend with the onset of winter FINALLY and with a previous date night to get sushi, I had miso on the brain and of course every time I hear the word miso I am automatically transported back to that magical age of music known as the 90’s and the sultry song styles of Miami, Florida’s own 2 Live Crew and how they’ve got an appetite..an appetite for……..okay I’m trying to work on not making this blog have an NC17 rating. Let’s just say that they’ve got an appetite for some good adult wholesome fun. I was never a huge fan of miso soup primarily because I had this preconceived notion that tofu was a bland horrid cube of boredom. But as I’ve matured in my old age, so to have my taste buds and I find that while I still don’t really care for tofu, my love for miso has grown and I find myself using it in all sorts of different applications from marinades for flanksteak and chicken, adding it to onions for burgers, salad dressings and of course soup.
I like miso soup just by using a hot water and mixing in the paste, tossing in a few slices of scallions, tofu cubes and some nori but this week I wanted to work on something that
would be a little more substantial and not just a flavorful broth. During my weekly outing to the international grocery stores (I like them way more than normal grocery stores) I pondered the notion of making a broth to go with the miso and I wanted to do a dashi. My favorite dashi is from shiitake mushrooms. I have always enjoyed the rich meaty taste of mushrooms and feel that if I were to go back to being primary vegetarian (I could never be a vegan. I love cheese too damn much!) that I’d be fine because I can live off of mushrooms. My favorite way to eat beef stroganoff is to cook Portobello mushrooms with the flank steak and then let Kyle have all the beef and I just eat the mushrooms. They are the little fungus flanksteaks of the vegetable world. I love them. All the mushrooms. I pondered the idea of spending $35.00 on a huge bag of already dried shiitake mushrooms but I wasn’t ready to make that sort of commitment in the off-chance that neither Kyle or I would like the dashi. Because then I’d have to figure out wtf I was going to do with a 10 pound bag of dried shrooms and I’m pretty sure my circle of friends would not want those kinds of shrooms. So instead I opted for the small pre-packaged fresh mushrooms and took it upon myself to dry them in my oven. And if you’ve never dried mushrooms in the oven of on a food dehydrator I strongly recommend that you try it at least once. Even if you aren’t a huge mushroom fan the smell that emanated from my kitchen over the course of 3 hours was unbelievable. And I don’t mean like some seriously funky smell. It was this meaty earthy smell that at the time and now I wished was a scent in shampoo or body soap because If it were possible and I’d not run the risk of experiencing second degree burns I would have rubbed it all over my body! It was just that damn good!!!! I tried drying the mushrooms in two different ways. One was by slicing them up and one by leaving the mushrooms whole. The sliced took about an hour and a half while whole took nearly 3 hours. Both ways resulted in an amazing dashi once all things were said and done.
The dashi is a pretty easy recipe to make. It simply required 2 ingredients and about 2-3 hours of patience. If you are wanting a stronger, more umami flavored dashi, try to be patient and wait at least 24 hours. It will be a matter of personal preference so don’t feel like you have to wait a full day to enjoy some good soup. In a stock pan you will want to take 8 cups of water and around 75-100 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms. I used sliced for this because I didn’t have dried whole mushrooms at the time. If you don’t have a food
scale at home, 100 grams is roughly 1 1/2 cups of dried sliced mushrooms. If you want a food scale you can find them relatively cheap at Target. That’s where I got mine.
Before you start the next step you need to ask yourself a very important question. Do you want to keep as much mushroom awesomeness in the actual mushroom or do you want it to be in the broth. Go ahead..I’ll wait while you ask yourself that question. It’s my day off and I’m not working overtime at my primary job this weekend so I got time. Do you want mushroomie flavored mushrooms or do you want mushroomie flavored broth? Have you decided? No? need another minute or two? Okay the reason I ask that question is depending on where you want the flavor to linger determines if you use hot water and let them simmer for 20 minutes before allowing to steep or do you just use room temperature water and allow time to run its course.
Using room temperature water without any additional heat allows your mushrooms to maintain their wonderful mushroom flavor but produces a light-colored broth. By heating the water and allowing it to simmer before cooling your mushrooms will not have as deep of a mushroom taste; however your broth will be infused more and be of a darker color and richer taste. So it really is a matter of personal preference. I preferred heating my water and allowing it to simmer because I like that dark meaty broth and I don’t throw the mushrooms away afterwards and they can become a part of the dish or used in other applications where I don’t want a rich mushroom taste but want the mushroom present. Does that make sense? In your stock pan bring your water up to a high simmer but don’t allow it to boil. Let it simmer for 20 minutes before killing the heat and walking away for a while. We want to let it sit and soak for a minimum of 2 hours to re-hydrate the release all their goodness into the broth. I found an amazing way to distract me from the kitchen by assembling Ikea furniture and blaming my husband (who was pass out cold from his overnight shift) for the fact I kept misplacing the stupid allen key either on the couch or underneath it or hiding in plain sight. They say a relationship can be tested in many ways. Float trip, road trip, assembling Ikea furniture. So far we’ve managed to not kill each other on any of these adventures and our marriage still remains as dysfunctional
as it was on the day we said “I do” which Kyle? If you are reading this blog it’s not October 26..It’s October 23rd on the day of my true love Ryan Reynold’s birthday *sigh*
Once you’ve waited at least 3 hours, take a coffee filter if you have one, if not a paper towel works fine as well and you will want to strain your broth through a sieve. the reason being is that mushrooms can be gritty and you don’t really want to have any little bits of dirt or grit in your lovely broth do you? You do? Then um, yeah you need to close this page right now and never ever ever E..V..E..R check back for update. That’s like saying that it’s totally fine to prepare scallops without cleaning them first. It’s just a big ole bucket of W.R.O.N.G WRONG…so yeah strain your mushrooms with a coffee filter you’ve either bought or stolen from work or a paper towel. Now we can get down to the best part of this blog. Making the soup.
Once you’ve gotten your dashi made, miso soup can come together in a matter of 10 minutes if you don’t have a lot of add ins. If using noodles you will want to allow up to 20 minutes for your noodles to cook. And by noodles I don’t mean silly spaghetti noodles. I mean alkaline noodles that don’t lose their shape or dissolve in broth. Alkaline noodles are used heavily in Asian cuisine and while I’ve n0t tried my hands at making them, they are on my list of things to do in the course of the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled for that blog post. 🙂 Just a quick note, when buying miso paste make sure you look at the ingredients on the back of the container. I ignorantly thought that miso paste would be a vegetarian paste considering its made from soybeans but there are a few brands out there apparently that contain bonito fish so if you are wanting to make sure that you don’t inadvertently serve the vegetarian or vegan in your life animal products check the back. I recommend Miko Brand Shiro Miso Paste because it does not contain any animal products.
Another great thing I love about making miso soup is you aren’t really stuck with making a whole pot of soup. You know how sometimes you make homemade soup and before you know it you’ve got 8 quarts of this jacked up mutant potato soup that you kind of like but after the 4th day of eating it you kind of want to send those bastard potatoes back to the mother land where they belong? With miso soup if you want to make a single serving and be selfish and not share because the dashi broth can keep up to at least a week in the fridge and can be frozen for later use. Miso paste once open and kept in the fridge can keep for at least a few months if kept closed so it doesn’t dry out. The only thing that has any sort of limited shelf life after you open it would be the tofu but that can last in a Tupperware container with water that’s closed for at least 4 days. So depending on how
hungry or generous you are you can make as little or as much as you want. Because we were going to be having this as our meal with nothing else, I opted to use 4 cups of the dashi broth to start my base.
I don’t think it really matters if you put the miso paste in a warm broth or if you put cold broth over it and let it heat up together. Some recipes will say to use hot broth but I’m like “uh..why?”..So in a sauce pan I put 4 tablespoons of mild yellow miso paste and about a tablespoon of fermented red pepper paste. The pepper paste is totally optional, I just like to have a bit of a spicy soup on cold days and I absolutely love the taste of gochujang its wonderfully funky with a lovely little Jackie Chan kick to the back of the throat. To that I added around 4 cups of dashi and allowed that to come up to a simmer over medium heat. Since we were going to be having this as the only aspect of our meal, Kyle decided to cook up some udon noodles to make it sort of like this odd bastard mutant miso ramen soup, which hey I’m down for
While the miso broth is warming through I set my eyes on the block of firm tofu on the counter. Tofu is made from the same stuff miso paste is which is soybeans, but it’s not actually made from the bean itself. If you look up tofu it’s also called bean curd which is made from soymilk (no not the vanilla or chocolate flavored crap you get next to the yogurt at the grocery store). Tofu is made from the liquid given off after you soak and blitz the beans and then a coagulant is added to cause it to sort of seize up and form curds. Depending on how hard you press those curds determines what type of tofu you get. So if you think about it, tofu is really just a vegetarian type of cheese :)..ITS HEALTHY FOR YOU!!!! I do enjoy using tofu in various applications but it’s one of those things that it doesn’t really have much of a taste on its own. You need to help it along the road to flavor town. If you haven’t made tofu before don’t feel bad. I haven’t either so I just go out and by a package of firm tofu for miso or silken for smoothies. I’m not about taking that adventure yet..I will but not yet. I need to commit more to this whole tofu way of thinking before I go out and buy tofu making soybeans.
Cut off a slice of tofu and make it in to whatever size cubes you want. You like large pieces of tofu? Cut a large piece? You like small pieces in your soup? Cut a small slice. No right or wrong. Don’t like tofu? Leave it out. It’s not called tofu soup, its called miso soup! Next
you’ll want to take your green onions (scallions) and slice them rather fine, and whatever else you want to toss in, the soaking mushrooms from the dashi broth project, some sea weed, kimchi? It’s up to you to decide what you want. We added some hijiki seaweed and some kimchi and mushrooms to ours along with an ample squirt of sriracha to give it a little more oomph. Your soup, your filling, you do you boo boo..Traditional miso soup is simply green onions, some seaweed, tofu and broth. Simple and easy lemon squeezy.
Once you’ve made the decision about what you are going to use, get your bowls and start building your soup. We laid our udon noodles in first and then sort of build this baracade of flavors around it with a little tofu, some green onions, chopped rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, and hijiki seaweed. Then you ladle your broth over all of the inside and enjoy dinner. I was worried that Kyle would not like the soup as the only aspect of his meal and had set aside a viable alternative of roast chicken and squash but he seemed content with his vegetarian/vegan meal. All in all the whole process took about 4 hours from start to finish but if you’ve got nothing really going on during the weekend it helps make mid-week meals a breeze to get done in less than 30 minutes (10 if you’re not doing noodles). It’s insanely healthy for you and quite filling. I was able to make up another batch of it for my buddy JJ who is a tattoo artist at Top Shelf Tattoo in St Louis and I’m hoping he liked it since he’s new to the whole vegan lifestyle. Now since I’ve made it with the homemade dried shiitake mushrooms I know from here on out I’ll feel validated about the $35.00 bag of dried shiitake I am going to be buying as soon as I decide if I’m going to put on a bra and an actual pair of pants. So that being said? Go to the store, buy a container of miso and some add ins and go to town. You don’t need to be at a sushi restaurant to enjoy this but I do still recommend you go to a sushi restaurant at least once a month because you need that kind of positivity in your life 🙂
Miso Soup with Shiitake Dashi
Serving Size: 2 as an entrée/4 as an appetizer
- 75-100 grams dried shiitake mushrooms
- 8 cups of filtered water
Bring to a high simmer (slightly under boiling temperature) and allow to simmer for 20 minutes before turning off the heat and letting the mushrooms rehydrate for a minimum of 2-3 hours. Strain through a coffee filter or paper towel and refrigerate until ready to use. Store mushrooms in a ziplock bag for later use. Do no throw these away they are wonderful. You will 8 cups of shiitake dashi once finished
- 4 cups of reserved shiitake dashi
- 4 tablespoons of miso paste (you can use any type, white, yellow, red)
- 1 tablespoon gochujang/fermented red pepper paste (optional)
- 4oz cubed firm tofu
- 4 green onions sliced fine
- 4tablespoons chopped reserved shiitake mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons soaked hijiki seaweed
- 2 tablespoons spicy kimchi
- 2 teaspoons sriracha (optional)
- noodles (optional add in)
In a sauce pan add miso paste, gochujang paste, and dashi and simmer at a medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally. If using noodles cook per instruction on package. Take your bowls and equally divide your filling between either 2 bowls or 4 depending on if using it as an entrée or an appetizer or depending on who wants this and who wants that. Ladle your hot broth over and serve with sriracha on the side to allow each person to season to their own personal preference.
Please feel free to leave comments, likes, share this with your friends. I would love to know what you all thought as well as get your impressions on how I can better my technique. If in the St Louis Area and you are looking for a tattoo I strongly recommend Top Shelf Tattoo on The Landing. All the guys there are amazing artists and I wouldn’t trust my skin to any other person now.