Japanese Soup & Salad
By dcb on Mar 31, 2005
Don't get me wrong... I love meat! And vegetarians are fun to tease. Of course, they will probably live longer than I... But good eating is one of life's great sensual pleasures. A nice steak and a glass of Merlot with my wife and/or good friends (I travel a lot) can't be beat.
Regardless, I must admit that when I visit a Japanese Steak House restaurant the best part of the meal is the miso soup and the ginger dressed salad... both 100% vegetarian. Hmmm. Could I have more in common with my misguided brethren than I think? :-)
Here are recipes for these two starters. The ingredients are pictured below.
Japanese-style Ginger Salad Dressing [1.5 cups, ~12 servings]
- 1 cup of olive oil (or sesame oil)
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced (1/6 cup bottled)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
- 3 tablespoons tahini (optional)
- 2 tablespoons celery, minced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard (1/3rd tablespoon)
- 2 teaspoons honey (2/3rds tablespoon)
- ground black pepper to taste
Mince the garlic and ginger into 1/8" (or so) peices. Pour olive oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice into a blender. Add the minced garlic, ginger, and celery. The tahini (ground sesame seeds, aka: sesame butter) adds a nice flavor if desired. Consider sesame oil if adding tahini. Add the dijon mustard, honey (not too much) and pepper. Blend on medium speed for about 8-10 seconds... just enough to blend the mixture into a consistent almost creamy texture - but not long enough to completely puree the minced garlic and ginger. Pour into a glass jar and chill until serving. The flavor is even better the next day. You'll go through it quickly, so consider making a larger batch.
Japanese-style Miso Soup [4 bowls, 4 servings]
- 2 teaspoons dashi granules
- <or> 1 cup fresh spinach (or bok choy), washed and chopped
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons miso paste (eg: 2 tbsp white + 1 tbsp barley)
- 1 (8 ounce) package silken/firm tofu, cut into 1/4" cubes
- 2 green onions (scallion), sliced diagonally into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
In a medium saucepan, bring the water (and dashi granules if you are using those) to a boil. Ladle out about 1/2 cup of the boiling water, and reserve. Reduce heat to medium, add cubed tofu, cover, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. If using spinach or bok choy instead of dashi, add it now (optionally add scallion at this point as well) and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Remove soup from heat.
Blend miso into reserved hot water. Stir into soup. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with scallion (if you didn't add it already). Serve immediately.
Note: Dashi is a basic stock used in Japanese cooking
which is made by boiling dried kelp (seaweed) and dried bonito (fish).
Instant dashi granules are sold in conveniently-sized jars or packets
and vary in strength. Add more dashi to your soup if you want a
stronger stock. You can use yellow, white or red miso paste for this
soup. Yellow miso is sweet and creamy, red miso is stronger and saltier.