I really like Asian food but I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen if it is not absolutely necessary. Over the course of time I have developed some Asian and Indian recipes that will delivery almost all the wallop of the original recipe but without consuming much time. In addition, I figured out how to make these dishes in places such as the office break room. I can even cook it while I am working on some code, if I let it microwave and run back to my desk for a bit ( I sit really close to the break room – no surprise there!)
One of those recipes that I like to make using short cuts is Miso Soup. Probably anyone who has set foot in a Japanese restaurant has had this soup before. Restaurant made miso soup is usually brownish in color, with chunks of tofu, seaweed, and green onions floating in it. It is usually made with fish stock called dashi, which gives it more of a seafood flavor.
My version eliminates the dashi, and allows you to create the entire soup in a microwave oven. I also experiment with flavoring my miso soup with things such as cilantro and ginger powder. I have used dashi, but I don’t think it is absolutely necessary.
You can pack the ingredients in a plastic bag like I do and carry them to work, so that you can assemble your miso soup at lunch time. There’s not much preparation needed ahead of time, you just need a knife, spoon, a flat surface, and a large bowl so that you can just cut up the ingredients and then microwave it all together at your place of work.
The ingredient list is as follows to make enough miso soup for two hungry people:
- 4 cups of water
- 3/4 cup of Shiro Miso Paste (Shiro is a brand but you can use whatever you can find at your local Asian grocery store )
- 1 fourth block of tofu (assuming the standard size blocks sold in stores)
- two sheets of seaweed (use the sushi style sheets)
- 6 strands of green onion (just the green part, not the white bulb)
- optional – you may add some cilantro, sea salt, rice vinegar, or ginger powder for extra flavor. I always try doing this, hoping that I’ll discover a new combination of flavors that distinguishes my miso soup from the rest.
Step 1: Mix the Miso past in with the water in a large bowl, until you have a brownish water that looks like gravy. See the pictures below of my package of Miso Paste. I paid only $2.99 for this one pound package and it has lasted quite a while.
Step 2: Cut the tofu into cubes about 1/2 inch in size. It is not critical that you cut them exactly in cubes. In fact, I often get impatient and start tearing the tofu into jagged pieces. It does not hurt to have extra tofu in your miso soup; that just makes it more hearty. Put the tofu cubes in the bowl with the water and miso paste.
Step 3: Cut the green onion strands into sections about one half inch long. Once again you don’t have to be accurate with this, you can have some longer pieces or shorter. Put the pieces in the bowl with the tofu, water, and miso paste.
Step 4: Cut or tear the two seaweed sheets into pieces about 1 by 3 inches in size. Put these pieces in the bowl also.
Step 5: You should now taste the miso soup first to see if it is too salty or not enough. At this point you could add more salt if you like, but it may be salty enough. You also now can experiment with adding things like cilantro, rice vinegar, ginger powder, or sea salt. I have tried all of these and each has its own advantage. I like adding a small handful of cilantro leaves to give the miso soup a little heat.
Step 6: Microwave the bowl on high for at least five minutes. You may see some boiling taking place in the microwave, but that is a good thing, because it will help to cook the tofu a bit. While you are waiting for it to cook, get out your best Asian serving bowls and spoons, so you can serve it up hot to your co-workers.
Step 7: Remove the bowl from the microwave, and let it cool for about a minute. You should have cooked it long enough for it to be too hot to touch or eat right away. If it is only lukewarm, you did not microwave it long enough, so put it back in the microwave oven until it is hotter.
You are now ready to enjoy your Quick and Easy Miso Soup! Surprise your office with this quick treat on a cold day.