Adding soup to a meal is a practice that more Americans* should adopt because it fills up your stomach so you eat less overall and it assists in maintaining proper hydration. While reading Samurai Gourmet, written by a descendant of the head chef of the Maeda samurai clan, I learned that the samurai ate a “one soup and one dish” meal – except on special banquet occasions. That’s a lot of soup, and many of the recipes in the book are for variations of miso soup. I realized that if I wanted to incorporate more miso soup into my meals I needed an easy, streamlined approach to making the dashi soup base. I eventually found that approach at Modernist Cuisine with a recipe for cold-infused dashi that sits in the refrigerator overnight. It won’t turn you into a samurai, but it should help you combat fat.
*with the exception of Canadians, who eat soup when it is cold and that is everyday for them, and Central Americans such as the Guatemalans who start most meals with a utilitarian but wholesome broth or soup.
Cold-Infused Dashi is Your Easy Dashi
You may be unfamiliar with dashi, but it is a fundamental soup base for Japanese cooking and is used in making miso soup. Miso soup is that umami-rich, salty soup that you get along with sushi, a bento box, or any set lunch meal at a Japanese restaurant. It also turns out that samuari had miso soup at almost every meal. Dashi stock requires kombu (kelp harvested from the ocean), dried bonito flakes from bonito fish (katsuobushi), and water.
If you already know all of this, sorry for the overgeneralizations and simplifications. Most recipes, even those that purport to offer a short-cut, require soaking and heating the ingredients to extract flavor before straining the dashi stock for other uses. However, if you really want an easy short-cut to full-flavored dashi, throw it all in the refrigerator overnight to cold-soak as the following recipe describes.
The ingredients for cold-infused dashi stock and miso soup are not pantry staples for most U.S. households. Purchasing all of them is really tantamount to buying-in to the ideal of making soup on a regular basis; this is a healthy habit that absolutely should be encouraged. If you have switched from iodized table salt to sea salt in your home, the inclusion of miso soup is an even better proposition since one of the ingredients, kombu, is known to contain naturally high levels of iodine. Casey Seidenberg, co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C.-based nutrition education company, and author of “The Super Food Cards,” wrote briefly about kombu in a Washington Post article:
“Kombu is known for reducing blood cholesterol and hypertension. It is high in iodine, which is essential for thyroid functioning; iron, which helps carry oxygen to the cells; calcium, which builds bones and teeth; as well as vitamins A and C, which support eyes and immunity, respectively.”
Keep reading to find out where to buy kombu online.
We’re Off to Online Shopping
I have a few reccomendations for ingredients, especially because one of them is particular to cold-infused dashi stock. I promise it won’t be as involved as making your own homemade stock with 3 pounds of chicken bones for Shrimp Ball Soup.
Uncle Shrimp Dried Shrimp snack packs are not found in your typical dashi but add loads of umami richness to your overnight infusion. If you don’t feel like eating them yourself after the infusion is done, I can attest that cats enjoy eating them almost as much as string cheese.
In addition to the dried shrimp, you will also need kombu, dried bonito flakes, and, finally, miso paste. Follow the links below to find good brands such as Wel-pac Dashi Kombu Dried Seaweed, Kaneso Tokuyou Hanakatsuo Dried Bonito Flakes, and Miko Shiro Miso Paste. Oh, you also need a one-liter Mason jar or other one-liter jar with a lid.
One note of caution, don’t boil your miso paste or you will lose the probiotic benefits that it confers. If you bring your soup to a boil to cook other ingredients, turn off the heat before adding the miso, just like the wise Japanese chef in Midnight Diner : Tokyo Stories. Miso soup is emminently adaptable to additions, from traditional Japanese classics such as tofu, wakame seaweed, mushrooms, edamame and scallions to less expected ones like kale, clams, broccoli, poached eggs, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and curry-spiced lentils. It’s a soupy choose-your-own-adventure when it comes to the additions (except bacon – let’s leave this dish healthy, please).
- 31 grams dried shrimp (1 package Uncle Shrimp dried shrimp)
- 15 grams kombu (1 flat sheet)
- 1 gram bonito flakes (4 tablespoons finely shredded bonito flakes)
- 1 liter filtered water
- 2 tablespoons miso paste
- garnishes, to taste
- Fill a Mason jar with a layer of shrimp, a layer of kombu, and a layer of bonito flakes.
- Fill the jar with water to completely submerge the ingredients. Seal the jar with an airtight seal (which may require a heavy weight placed on top).
- Allow the water to infuse at least 1 hour at room temperature or refrigerate it overnight.
- Strain the liquid and discard the solids. The dashi may be refrigerated for up to one week.
- For miso soup, heat dashi until it reaches a boil and then remove from heat. Whisk miso paste into a ladleful of hot dashi until fully incorporated and mix into full pot of dashi. Garnish before serving.