I usually start with Hon Dashi. It's a soup base. Traditionally, you're supposed to start with shaved katsuo boshi (smoked dried bonito), but hon dashi is quicker, cheaper, and more available. Add in a bit of miso to taste, add some sea weed (such as wakame), then float in tofu cubes and chopped scallions.
Usually about a tablespoon of miso to a cup of water/dashi mixture.
First, do the hon dashi - mix with water according to pkg directions, and bring to a boil, let it boil for a minute or so. Turn the heat down, and add the miso - the best way to do this is to put the miso in a bowl,, and ladle a spoonful or so of the dashi broth on top, and mix it well to form a soft, thick 'liquid'. It's easier for the miso to incorporate into the broth that way, and you don't end up with lumps. Once you add the miso back to the pot of broth, don't boil it; simmer gently for a few minutes. Add the wakame (never use Kombu - kombu is a thick, tough seaweed used more for making broths and sushi suu, not eating by itself) and simmer til it's soft. Add the tofu cubes and scallions at the end.
You can also add vegetables, like carrots, spinach, potatoes, and little bits of cooked chicken or seafood, like shrimp.
For those serving shrimp/vegetable tempura along with their miso soup, some Japanese restaurants here have the great idea of garnishing their soup with the crunchy bits of tempura batter that float up on the deep frying oil when frying tempura. You normally discard these bits as soon as you scoop them out of the oil to clean it for the next batch of tempura to fry. However, adding them to the miso soup gives great texture and flavor to the soup!
I wish I knew what the heck you guys are talking about! It sounds awful good! I guess I'm a bit too intimidated to venture into an Asian market and the ethnic food section at the local supermarket is severely lacking. :roll: Maybe one of these days!!!
Well, there's an Asian market on the North side here, maybe I'll swing by when I go into town this weekend! I'll tell them I know you guys, maybe I'll get some freebies! I guess part of my frustration is that when I try to cook an Asian dish, it tastes nothing like what you would get in a restaurant. I should know better than that but it's hard to tell if I've made it correctly when I've never tasted the real thing. :roll:
Another tasty and great looking garnish is nori (the dried pressed sheets of seaweed used to wrap sushis). Using scissors, cut nori uniformly into very short thin strips (the size of toothpicks). Right before serving, sprinkle about ten to fifteen strips onto each filled bowl of miso soup before adding the chopped scallions.