November 3, 2009

Miso soup and Mushroom pilaf

I often cook Miso soup, especially potato and onion. My husband loves it.It is a very usual dish in Japan.
As you know, Miso-paste is made from soy beans. Normally we cook Miso soup with kombu( dried-kelp) and dried-fish stock. In the old days, Japanese people ate only rice, vegetables and a little bit of fish. So Miso soup was very important for providing protein. Kombu, dried-fish, miso - each of them has a lot of amino acids. We have a term in Japan for protein, UMAMI, which is one of the five generally recognized basic tastes. Of course, I couldn't use fish for vegan so I cooked it with kombu and dried-shitake mushroom. Dried-shitake also has a good amino acid. you can make good soup by mixing different kinds of amino acids.
Fall is the season of Mushrooms in Japan. People often eat Mushroom rice in this season. The changing of seasons is quite noticeable in Japan. We love to transport the sense of the seasons to the table. So I also cooked Mushroom Pilaf today.

comment from Mrs. P.
I never had miso soup with potatoes - what a wonderful surprise!
The Mushroom rice is rich tasting and fragrant!

Miso Soup - potato, onion and carrot
2 medium size white potatoes, chopped
1/3 cup of carrots, sliced
1/4 medium size onion, sliced
1 piece of green onion, minced
4in. of kombu wiped with a moist paper towel very gently (you can choose 1 teaspoon of kombu-tea powder 0r 1 teaspoon of kombu-dashi powder )*
4.5 cups of water ( If you choose the powder you need 4 cups of water)
2 pieces of dried shitake mushroom soaked in 1 cup of water (2 - 8 hours) - use 2/3 cup of stock for Miso soup and keep 1/3 cup of stock and the shitake mushroom for pilaf
2 - 4 table spoons of white miso*

*kombu-tea powder :
*kombu-dashi powder :
*about miso :


Put the kombu and the water in your pan and leave for 1 -3 hours. Bring the pan on middle heat and warm it up slowly. Take off the kombu just before it starts boiling. Now you get kombu stock ( Kombu-Dashi ). The method is not easy even for Japanese. You have to chose good kombu, have to wipe it VERY gently, have to control the temperature, etc., but don't have the POWDER!! Put the powder and the water in your pan! That's all. You get kombu stock.
Any way... put the potato, carrot, onion and 2/3 cup of shitake stock into the kombu stock. If you don't cook mushroom pilaf, add the soaked shitake mushroom, sliced. Bring the pan on high heat to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potato becomes soft. Skim off the scum and turn off.
Put 2 tablespoons of miso in your small bowl, bring a bit of ladle soup from the pan, put it into the bawl and dissolve the miso well. Put it into the pan, stir and sample it. If you need more miso, add more miso in the same way to taste.
Just before serving, heat on low, turn off just before it starts to boil and put in the green onion. (Never boil miso! It makes it lose its flavor.)

Mushroom pilaf - soy sauce flavor
1.5 cups of Japanese rice
2 - 3 cups of various fresh mushroom sliced ( I cooked clam shell mushroom, white mushroom and brown mushroom)
1/4 cup of chopped carrot
1 clove of garlic sliced
3 teaspoons of minced parsley
1 table spoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of white wine
1 table spoon of soy sauce
1/2 tea spoon of kombu- tea powder or kombu-dashi powder
a pinch of sea salt
1.5 cups of water
2 soaked shitake mushrooms, sliced and 1/3 cup of shitake mushroom stock ( These were kept from the "Miso soup" recipe )

Put the garlic and the olive oil in your heavy, lidded pan. Bring it to low heat and fry the garlic very slowly until golden. Put the mushrooms in the pan, up the heat to medium high, and fry lightly. Add the rice and fry until rice becomes translucent. Add the white wine and stir it lightly. Add the water, the shitake stock, the shitake mushroom, the carrot, the soy sauce, the kombu-tea powder (or kombu-dashi powder ) and the salt. Put the lid on the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 12min. Take the pan off the fire and let it steam for 10 min. Put the parsley in the pan and mix well gently.