ENOKI MUSHROOM MISO SOUP
I find myself eating miso soup on two occasions. One is when I'm feeling under the weather with a winter virus; when I was younger I'd eat chicken noodle soup, but now I find myself craving this. It's like a warm bath for your insides and feels like you're being thoroughly good to yourself. The second, more common, instance is if I'm after a light dinner, like when I know there's something delicious for dessert, or I've been too indulgent of late.
By the way, the speckles on the surface is the coconut oil rising to the top, not a strange Asian garnish!
Cooking this dish is really soothing. First you make a stock from kombu (the Japanese word for dried kelp seaweed) to which you then add to several concentrated flavourings such as the miso paste and sriracha. Other ingredients I like to add to the miso base are coconut oil for richness, maple syrup for a subtle sweetness and garlic for.. garlic. It's so satisfying to dilute your little collection of flavourings into something drinkable, especially if you've customised it to your mood or palette - feel free to add or take away any of the heat/sour/sweet/saltiness.
For those of you who have made Japanese or Korean dishes before, you may recognise the kombu broth. It is commonly known as dashi, except that dashi normally includes katosuobushi shavings, which are basically flakes of dried, fermented bonito (a type of fish similar to tuna). Katosuobushi shavings bring to traditional dashis an intense umami flavour - but don't worry - you can use mushrooms which are naturally high in glutamate (the main contributor to umami) to get a vegan umami flavour and make up for that!
I've gone for enoki mushrooms here mainly because of their noodley, chewy texture and savoury flavour. In soup, they require the same satisfying shlurp that ramen noodles do, except are in keeping with the lightness of this dish. I've also used ordinary chesnut mushrooms (button, portobello or shiitake would work too) to boost that umami factor even further.
You can find enoki mushrooms at a lot of mainstream supermarkets now, and certainly in Asian ones - the canned variety will also work. If you can't find them, just add more of any other mushroom you can get your hands on. Incidentally, see the optional substitutions table below the recipe block for other alternatives.
The kombu you can pick up in Asian supermarkets, or even on Amazon here (UK)* or here (US). But if you can't be bothered, the soup will still be delicious without!
Enoki Mushroom Miso Soup
60 + 15 mins
|1||15x20cm sheet kombu (dried kelp)|
|¼ cup||brown miso paste (=60g)|
|½ tbsp||sriracha hot sauce (see below for optional substitutions)|
|1||clove garlic, grated or crushed|
|1 tbsp||coconut oil|
|1 tbsp||maple syrup|
|150g||tenderheart cabbage, shredded (=2 packed cups)|
|3||medium chesnut mushrooms, chopped|
|60g||enoki mushrooms (=3 loosely packed cups)|
|½ cup||spring (green) onions, chopped|
- Gently wipe the kombu to remove any dirt. The whitish powder adds flavour so try to avoid wiping this off. Put the sheet of kombu in a large saucepan (cut it in two/four if it won't fit).
- Pour in 5 cups (1.2 litres) water, put the lid on and turn the heat on to medium. Check in 5 minutes to make sure it's not boiling. Turn the heat to low and keep it beneath a boil for 1 hour.
- Remove the kombu from the pot and discard it.
- Add the next 6 ingredients to the kombu broth and stir well until they're dispersed/dissolved.
- Now add the mushrooms and cabbage and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Ladle in to bowls and top with the spring onions. Sticky rice or tofu are good additions to stir in at the end but not essential.