Paleo * Gluten free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve
I was recently asked what my favorite restaurant is – a question I find very difficult to answer because it depend’s on my mood. Certainly if I’m in the mood for French food the answer would be different from times that I crave a pastrami sandwich. As I thought more and more about the subject I found that the more important question is what restaurant or type of restaurant do I leave feeling really good and happy after the meal. Surprisingly, the answer was not one of the extremely excellent (usually expensive) restaurants I frequent occasionally, but rather the meals that I make me happiest are generally macrobiotic. I rarely leave a fancy restaurant feeling as satisfied, happy, peaceful, and I admit, a little self righteous as I do following a simple meal of brown rice, salad, and steamed or sauteed vegetables. The beauty of this realization is that I don’t have to go to a restaurant for a macrobiotic meal and so I have pulled out my rice cooker (more about that another time) and am making simple dinners that are loosely macrobiotic and I find it’s a lovely way to unwind at the end of the day.
That all being said, I decided I would like to make miso soup to add to my macrobiotic repertoire. The base for miso soup is dashi, a broth made of seaweed (kombu) and dried bonito (fish flakes). Dashi is used widely in Japanese cuisine. Although I like miso soup when I go to restaurants the thought of bonito was not my cup of tea. So, I decided to find a way to make it without the fish; what I ended up with is part Japanese, part Chinese. I know that dashi is full of umami. Umami is the fifth taste along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty – umami is best described as earthy. Knowing that mushrooms are a just loaded with umami, I decided to add that to the broth along with the kombu. Then, just because I had them in the house to make hot and sour soup, I threw in a few dried lily buds (I don’t even know if they are used in Japanese cooking) and just to ensure enough flavor I added some soy sauce and mirin. Once you have the ingredients in the pantry, this is an extremely simple broth to make.
Though I’ve photographed the dashi in a bowl with chive blossoms, I would not really eat a bowl of dashi. It is, for me, strictly an ingredient.
The longer you let the vegetables steep, the more flavorful the broth will be.
3 cups water
6 dried shiitaki mushrooms or 1 cup chopped fresh shiitaki mushrooms
4 dried lily buds, optional
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
6 (2-inch) pieces kombu
1. In a 1 1/2 or 2 quart pot, bring the water, mushrooms, lily buds ,and coconut aminos to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, uncovered.
2. Remove from heat. Make sure water is NOT boiling. Stir in kombu; let stand 2 or more hours.
3. Pour the stock through a strainer;
Using a spoon press the liquid from the vegetables into the stock.
Makes: 2 cups