“Snake’s Eyes” Soup


The name of this soup derives from the curled, striped shrimp that lie at the bottom of each bowl. Typical of Japanese clear dinner soups, a few artistically designed morsels rest in a subtly flavored broth.


  • 8 jumbo shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon saké (rice wine)
  • 8–12 stalks mitsuba (trefoil) or coriander
  • Peel from ½ lemon or lime
  • 3 cups dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • ½ teaspoon usu kuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


Shell and devein the shrimp and sprinkle the rice wine over them. Blanch the shrimp in rapidly boiling water for 1 minute and drain them. Place two curled shrimp in the bottom of each of four individual bowls.

Plunge the trefoil or coriander into fresh boiling salted water until it barely wilts. Remove the greens immediately to a bowl of cold water. Knot together 2 or 3 stalks to make a single bunch and lift it out of the water. Repeat with remaining stalks. Pat the bunches of greens dry and lay one over the shrimp in each bowl.

Carefully remove as much pith from the underside of the fruit peel as you can. With scissors, cut out 4 small flower shapes, rinse them under cold water, then pat them dry. Place a lemon flower in each bowl.

In a saucepan, heat the basic soup stock and season it with the light soy sauce and salt. Bring the broth to a boil, then carefully ladle it over the arrangements of food in the individual bowls. Serve immediately.