Friday, April 24, 2015

Japanese Breakfast! Dried Shrimp Dashi Miso Soup with Egg and Yellow Sunburst Tomato

     Turning Dietary Habits Upside Down
     It is funny how many people in western society think that normal breakfast food has to be something that is highly processed, sugary sweet, starchy and is loaded with artificial ingredients.  Breakfast food that only provides a quick energy boost is detrimental to health over a long period of time.  A starchy sweet breakfast has only a temporary effect of making a person feel good.  A sugar or corn syrup "hangover" from a sweet breakfast can be diagnosed as an early warning sign of diabetes.  The worst breakfast from a health standpoint, is a sweet breakfast that is made with corn syrup products.

     Hot grain porridge, like cream of wheat, grits, oatmeal or rice pudding is what many folks eat for breakfast worldwide.  From a dietary view, this makes no sense.  Fibrous grains take nearly 12 hours to digest, so the nutrition that porridge provides will not even be made available to the body till sometime after the day is done in the early evening hours.  The best time to eat grain porridge actually is in the evening hours, so the full nutritional value is available in the morning hours when energy from proteins and fibrous carbohydrates is needed the most.

     Savory breakfast food is healthier than sugary sweet breakfast food, yet many folks in western society draw the line when seafood is the savory breakfast food choice.  Other than those who live in coastal or lakefront fishing communities, many mainstream Americans just cannot get up the gumption to eat any kind of seafood for breakfast.
     Other than eggs, the traditional mainstream breakfast proteins are restricted to sausage, bacon, ham, steak and corned beef hash.  Fish or shellfish are not even in the menu lineup at most American diner style restaurants.  From a health standpoint, it is obvious that fish or shellfish would be a healthier choice, but not everybody relishes the thought of umami flavors in the morning.

     Miso Soup is a popular breakfast item in Japan.  The best breakfast breakfast food choice is one that offers proteins and nutrients that are easy to digest.  Miso Soup certainly falls into this category, so it actually is a perfect breakfast food choice.
     Seafood broths, like Miso Soup, are among the easiest items to digest of them all.  The nutrients in a broth are readily available and the uptake of broth nutrients in the digestive tract is very efficient.  Dashi broth made with an oily fish and seaweed will provide essential omega-3 fatty acids and essential Iodine.

     Many traditional broth soups and miso soups in Japan are garnished with an egg.  Garnishing today's Miso Soup recipe with an egg was done in part to give the readers in the western world something that is easy to identify as a breakfast food item in the recipe.    
     Eggs are one of the easiest to digest high protein items.  Eggs that are hard boiled or cooked over-hard are less healthy than eggs that are cooked soft or runny.  Cooking the yolk hard does change the physical characteristics of cholesterol.  A hard cooked egg will have a higher percentage of hardened cholesterols that can contribute to long term cardiovascular health problems.  
     Soft cooked eggs offer higher percentages of soft cholesterol profiles.  Soft cholesterols are a type of lipid that is good for the body and they are essential for healthy cell production, especially for internal organs.  Just like a rare cooked steak is healthier than a well done steak, a soft cooked egg is a healthier choice.

     Fruit is a great source of carbohydrates, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.  Fruit should always be served with breakfast.  A couple pieces of fruit served with today's miso soup easily qualifies this breakfast entrĂ©e as being one of the healthiest breakfasts of all time.  Now, the thought of miso soup for breakfast, instead of oatmeal, does not seem so upside down after all!

     *This entire recipe yields 1 bowl of soup! 

     Dried Shrimp and Wakame Dashi:
     Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of rinsed salt packed dried wakame seaweed that is coarsely chopped.
     Add 3 tablespoons of tiny sun dried shrimp.
     Boil the dashi broth for 10 minutes.  Add water if necessary.
     Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     *You can leave the dried shrimp and seaweed in the soup if you wish to.  For this recipe, I strained the dashi broth.  The dried shrimp and wakame are edible.
     Dried Shrimp Dashi Broth Miso Soup with Egg and Yellow Sunburst Tomato:
     Never add vinegar to egg poaching water!  The vinegar gives an egg an unpleasant flavor and it give the egg a rubbery texture!  
     If you poach an egg in a shallow saute pan with barely enough water to cover the egg, then the poached egg will have a nifty looking yellow "eye" on top.
     Step 1:  Place the sauce pot with the dried shrimp dashi broth over medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 pinch of ground Szechuan Pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Boil for 2 minutes.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 2 to 3 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of red miso paste to the dashi broth, while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the miso paste combines.
     Step 3:  In a separate pan, boil enough salted water over medium high heat to poach an egg.
     Poach 1 large egg in the gently boiling salted water.
     Step 4:  Pour the miso soup into a shallow soup bowl.
     Use a slotted spatula to place the poached egg in the middle of the soup.
     Place 3 thin sliced Yellow Sunburst Tomatoes next to the egg in the soup.  (Sunburst Tomatoes are the size of cherry tomatoes.)
     Float about 10 cilantro leaves on one side of the soup.
     Float some very thin bias sliced green onion slivers on the other side of the soup.
     This soup has all the necessary ingredients for getting a healthy start in the morning.  This miso soup broth has a rich and tasty flavor!

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