For my birthday this year, I received a bunch of cookbooks, but the most exciting one was Martha Stewart's Cooking School, not only for the food pornaliciousness, but also for the instructions from the domestic diva herself! I have, for the most part, been a self-taught cook, using the internet and books that I've purchased from the internet to try to figure it out. It works okay, but it has resulted in a somewhat lopsided resume, if you will. Enter Martha into my life. I haven't worked through too many of the lessons, but I have started on stocks. There's that vegetable stock that's still sitting in my freezer and there was dashi, a traditional Japanese fish and seaweed based stock, which is the base for miso soup.
More specifically, dashi is made from kombu, an edible kelp in the family of brown algae, and katsuobushi, the Japanese name for dried and smoked skipjack tuna. Katsuobushi is often referred to as bonito or bonito flakes and is rather pungent hence the lack of packing of the flakes.
6 c cold water
3 6 in strips kombu
2 c bonito flakes, (not packed)
bring the water and the kombu to nearly a boil and then remove the kombu and take the pot off the heat. add the bonito flakes and allow them to steep until they settle on the bottom (this takes ~3-5 minutes). Strain. Ta da! you have dashi.
It's really that simple, although I had nothing good to use to strain it, so I ended up pouring it through coffee filters... which I'm never ever doing again because that was a royal pain in the behind. Next time I'm getting a fine mesh strainer.
Miso soup follows naturally from the dashi.
3.5 c + .5 c dashi
.25 c white miso paste
handful of wakame
heat the dashi in a saucepan and in a separate bowl, mix the half c of dashi with the miso paste until it's liquidy... add miso+dashi mixture to the saucepan and add in the reconstituted wakame (which is another type of edible seaweed). I suppose you could add in tofu and green onions, but i didn't have any on hand.
The soup turned out really well and the entire process was well worth it. I now have some leftover dashi, however. Though, I plan to use it as part of a dipping sauce for tempura vegetables... more on that when it happens. :)