Make Miso Soup
When the Ichiko students in Samurai Shortstop protest the terrible cafeteria food, Headmaster Kinoshita responds by firing the kitchen staff and putting the boys in charge. From then on, the boys are responsible for preparing the food, serving it, and cleaning up after themselves.
The first dish Toyo, Futoshi, and Junzo make on their own is miso soup, a dish so common in Japanese cooking it’s eaten at almost every meal. A simple miso soup and white rice make up the traditional Japanese breakfast. At other meals, more complex miso recipes may be used, including ingredients like noodles, seaweed, tofu, or any combination of vegetables.
Want to try miso soup for yourself? Here’s a recipe for Junzo-style Miso Soup, along with illustrated directions!
Junzo’s Miso Soup Recipe
(makes four servings)
4 cups of cold water
5 inches of konbu (kelp)
1/2 cup of bonito flakes
3 tablespooons of miso paste
4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of green onion, chopped
To make miso soup, first you must make the dashi, or soup stock, from which all miso soup is made. Many Japanese cooks will make up large quantities of dashi and freeze it, heating up as much as is needed to make each meal. We’re going to make enough for four servings.
Remove a piece of konbu and clean it with a damp cloth, making sure to remove any sand or salt still stuck to it. (It did come from the ocean, after all.)
Heat the konbu in a pan with four cups of cold water. What you’re doing now is flavoring the stock. (You’re not going to eat that big piece of kelp.)
Just before the water begins to boil, turn off the heat and remove the konbu. Be careful not to let the konbu boil! It will get slimy and bitter, and no one likes that.
Bring the water back to a boil, and sprinkle the bonito flakes over the top. Turn the heat off again, and let the flakes sit on the water until they sink.
If you have a cat, you will receive a visit about the time you open the fish flakes.
When the last bonito flake has sunk, strain the water to remove the flakes. We tried feeding the flakes to the cat, but apparently she just likes the smell.
After you’ve strained the flakes out, what’s left is dashi – your soup stock. It will smell like tuna fish at this point, which makes sense since bonito means tuna.
Bring the dashi to a boil again and add some of the hot soup stock to a bowl with your miso paste.
Use a spoon to soften and stir the miso paste until it forms a thick liquid.
While your miso softens, add your shiitake mushrooms to the boiling soup stock. Boil the stock until the mushrooms are warmed all the way through.
If you would like to vary the recipe, now is the time to do it. Just remember that if you use any hard vegetables, they should be cooked for ten minutes or so.
The mushrooms shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Take one out and taste it.
When the mushrooms are cooked through, turn the heat off. Mix in your dissolved miso paste.
Serve it up…
…sprinkle it with scallions, and it’s done!