Sea-Tangle in Miso Soup, Kansai Style

Wakamé no Miso Shim, Kansai Fū

The Japanese have created an infinite number of variations on the theme of miso soup. This marvelous combination of wakamé (sea-tangle) and abura agé (fried bean curd) is particularly popular throughout the Kansai area, which includes the centrally located cities of Kyoto and Osaka. This Kansai-style soup is a favorite item on many Japanese restaurant menus here in America.

Ingredients

  • cups dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • ⅓-½ packet (5 grams) of dried wakamé (sea-tangle)
  • 1 piece (about 2 х 4½”) abura agé (fried bean curd)
  • 3-4 tablespoons shiro miso (light fermented bean paste)
  • 1 slender scallion

Method

  1. Season the stock with the soy sauce and syrupy rice wine and heat it through over medium heat.
  2. Soak the dried sea-tangle in cold water for 10 minutes while finishing the soup.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the fried bean curd in it for 20 seconds to remove surface oil. Drain, and let it cool. Slice the bean curd sheet in half lengthwise, then across into thin strips. When you can handle the bean curd comfortably, gather the strips into a ball in your hand and squeeze out all excess liquid.
  4. Add the bean curd strips to the hot seasoned stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Measure 3 tablespoons of the bean paste into a deep bowl. Ladle out some of the hot stock and pour it over the bean paste. Whisk the bean paste until it is dissolved, then pour it into the soup pot. Stir and taste; if the flavor is not robust enough, dissolve another tablespoon of bean paste in a little stock and add it to the pot.
  6. Trim the scallion, then chop both white and green parts finely. Place these chopped bits of scallion in a small bowl of cold water for a minute, then drain them and squeeze out all excess liquid. Drain the soaking sea-tangle, too.
  7. In each of four individual soup bowls, place one fourth of the sea-tangle and scallions. Stir the hot bean-thickened soup, pour it over the sea-tangle and scallions, and serve immediately.

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