Miso Soup is healthy and nutritious. Miso Soup is also a fun medium for creativity. Many people think of Miso Soup as being a strict regimented traditional recipe, but in reality there are as many ways to make this soup as there are cooks worldwide. Many cooks in Japan substitute a variety of seafood and seaweed products for the traditional Kombu and Katsuobushi when making the Dashi. Some add odd exotic ingredients and even western world food items when garnishing a basic Miso Soup.
Tradition is as important as creativity when making Miso Soup, because the overall goal is to make a highly nutritious broth that tastes great and to add garnishes that peak a dinner guest's interest. If a guest wants tradition, then show the guest what Miso Soup Tradition is all about. If the guest wants to try something new, then create a Miso Soup that will pleasing within the bounds of the perceived personal taste of the guest.
Here is a quick overview of 3 common edible seaweed species that are used to make different styles of dashi broth. Kombu Seaweed has a naturally high MSG content and a sweet gentle umami flavor. Kombu is the most popular choice. Wakame Seaweed has a moderate level of natural MSG, yet the vitamin and mineral content is very high. Wakame has a very agreeable savory flavor. Roasted Nori Seaweed is more often used for sushi presentations, but it can also be used to make a dashi broth. Roasted Nori Seaweed has a very high protein content and the MSG content is nearly nonexistent. Roasted Nori tastes very rich when prepared as a dashi broth.
Roasted nori and dried pickled bonito flakes were used to make the dashi broth for today's soup. Dried Pickled Bonito Flakes (Katsuobushi) and sheets of Roasted Nori can be found in Asian food markets and at some common grocery stores.
Why Katsuobushi and Roasted Nori? I figured this rich tasting combination would taste good with the shallot and sun dried tomato garnish. All it takes is a little bit of educated guesswork like this to come up with a nice new Miso Soup flavor!
*This entire recipe yields 1 portion of Miso Soup. (2 1/4 cups)
Roasted Nori Bonito Dashi:
Step 1: Place 2 3/4 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
Bring the water to a boil.
Step 2: Add 3 tablespoons of shaved dried bonito flakes.
Add 1 sheet of roasted nori seaweed. (An 8"x8" sheet is plenty.)
Stir the broth as the nori seaweed crumbles apart.
Step 3: Boil the broth for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Remove the pot from the heat.
Pour the dashi broth through a fine mesh strain into a second sauce pot.
Discard the spent seaweed and fish.
Shallot and Sun Dried Tomato Miso Soup:
Step 1: Place the sauce pot of dashi over very low heat.
Step 2: Add 3 sun dried tomato halves that are cut into thin strips. (About 3/16" wide)
Add 1/4 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced ginger.
Add 3 drops of pure sesame oil.
Step 3: Gently simmer the soup for a few minutes till the sun dried tomato strips are tender.
Step 4: Raise the temperature to medium low heat.
Add 1 very thin sliced shallot.
Simmer the soup for 2 minutes.
Step 5: Add 2 tablespoons of pale color miso paste while stirring with a whisk.
Stir, till the miso paste combines with the broth.
Step 6: Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
Add 1 pinch of ground Szechuan Pepper.
Step 7: Ladle the miso soup into a soup bowl.
Float 4 thin slices of jalapeño pepper in the surface of the soup.
Sprinkle a little bit of very thin bias sliced green onion on the soup.
One benefit of miso soup is the seaweed contains a high amount of Iodine. With all the radioactive dust that is in the environment these days, seaweed is a wise choice to add to a diet. The exception is pregnant women, because high amounts of Iodine can pre-natal health risks.