Shrimp in Rice Cake Soup

Ebi Zōni

Another colorful, flavorful combination of rice taffy and soup—here plump, pink shrimp, black mushrooms and bright green spinach garnish each bowl of amber broth. A final decorative slice of lemon peel lightens and brightens each serving.

Ingredients

  • 4 dried shiitaké (black Oriental mushrooms)
  • cups warm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup liquid from soaking the mushrooms
  • cups dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • 1 teaspoon usu kuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 jumbo shrimp
  • 12–16 leaves of fresh spinach
  • Peel from ½ large lemon
  • 4 omochi (glutinous rice cakes)

Method

Soak the dried mushrooms for at least 20 minutes in cups warm water to which a pinch of sugar has been added. Remove and discard the stems, and rinse the softened mushrooms under cold water. Squeeze them dry, cut each in half, and place them in a saucepan. Strain the soaking liquid and pour 1 cup of it over the mushrooms. Add the basic soup stock to the saucepan, season it with the light soy sauce and salt, and bring it to a simmer. Cover and cook mushrooms in the soup for 12–15 minutes, while preparing the other ingredients.

Shell and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail pieces intact. Blanch the shrimp for 2–3 minutes in boiling salted water, then drain and reserve.

In another small saucepan, blanch the spinach leaves in fresh boiling salted water for 30–40 seconds until barely wilted. Drain, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process, and drain again. Squeeze out all excess liquid from the greens and set them aside.

Cut the lemon peel into 4 decorative pine needle shapes ( for matsuba cutting), and set them aside.

Soak the rice cakes in a saucepan of warm water for 5 minutes, then bring the water to a boil. Cook for 1 minute if necessary to make them soft and stretchy. Drain off the water and transfer 1 cake to each of 4 individual bowls. (If using freshly pounded rice, just place 1 cake directly in each of 4 deep bowls without soaking and cooking.) Place a single shrimp on each of the cakes, then a few spinach leaves. Add 2 mushroom halves to each bowl and a single decorative pine needle lemon twist. Pour hot soup over all and serve immediately.

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