Making good miso soup is not as simple as it seems. It’s the sort of thing that should be taught in schools, along with other important life skills such as how to boil an egg. Teach them that stuff and our kids will eat well every day of their lives. Teach them Newton’s second law of motion and they may just end up hungry. Our mate Masaaki makes a version of this at our local farmers’ market. If you are ever in Hobart, seek it out: his is the stall with the long line of people queuing for his crayfish miso.
- 10 g (¼ oz) dried wakame seaweed
- 1 small crayfish, uncooked (if you can’t get a cray, try fresh bugs, aka slipper or shovelnose lobsters; freshwater crays such as yabbies or marron would also do nicely)
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) dashi stock (see below)
- 50 g (1¾ oz) white miso paste
- 1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 spring onions (scallions), very thinly sliced
- 15 g (½ oz or a 10 cm/4 inch square piece) dried kombu (konbu) seaweed
- 20 g (¾ oz or about a handful) shaved katsuoboshi (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 30 minutes
For the dashi stock, soak the kombu in 1.1 litres (38½ fl oz) cold water in a saucepan for at least 30 minutes.
Bring the kombu and water to the boil, then reduce to a very low simmer for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the katsuoboshi. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.
Strain off the liquid – this is the dashi stock – discarding the kombu and katsuoboshi. The stock can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Soak the wakame in cold water in a bowl for 10 minutes. Drain and slice into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces. Set aside.
Pull the tail off the crayfish and remove the tail meat from the shell. Cut the meat into small bite-size pieces. Set aside.
Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add the crayfish head, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the head (don’t throw it out – there’s lots of meat to pick off it).
In a small bowl, soften the miso paste with a little hot dashi. Stir the miso mixture through the dashi in the saucepan over medium heat. As the dashi mixture begins to simmer, add the crayfish tail meat, onion and wakame. Without letting it boil, continue heating until the meat is cooked. Add the spring onion and remove from the heat. Serve immediately.
• Katsuoboshi from specialist Japanese or Asian food stores.
Recipe and image from The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara (Murdoch Books, $49.99, hbk).