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The Ultimate Guide to Making Miso Soup

Miso soup originates from Japan. It’s a delicious savoury soup, rich in vitamins and minerals. It can be made as quickly as a cup of tea, or in under 2 hours – if you desire the ultimate, authentic taste.

In its simplest form miso consists of two ingredients: dashi and miso paste.

Dashi 

Dashi a stock used in Japanese cookery. It is normally made from kombu (a type of seaweed), mushrooms (shitake are used most frequently) and katsuobushi (dried, fermented tuna) but it can made from just one or two of these ingredients. 

Miso Paste

Miso paste is traditionally made from soybeans, salt and koji. There are thousands of different types of miso in Japan, but you’ll normally only find one or two in the UK.

Miso paste (note: the words miso and miso paste are used interchangeably and refer to the same thing) can be bought from most supermarkets. If you’d like to try a greater range of misos you can visit Japan – or buy Umami Chef koji and use it to make your own miso! It’s really easy – you just mix cooked beans with salt and koji and then leave it to mature for as little as 10 days. You can make miso from any bean and experiment with different flavours. This means that you can enjoy miso, even if you’re avoiding soy beans, as homemade miso can be made with fava beans, cannellini beans, or even lentils! Find out more about making miso on my miso page.

Any miso can be used to make a soup – a sweet white miso (like my 10-day miso) makes a light creamy drink; whilst a dark, rich miso makes a more savory soup, which can be easily turned into a meal by the addition of vegetables, tofu and noodles.

The easiest way to make miso soup

You can make miso soup very quickly by using a shop bought stock – any stock will produce a lovely, warming drink.

Simply make up the stock using the directions on the packet, then stir a heaped teaspoon of miso paste into each mug. 

A range of stocks suitable for making miso soup

 

For a more authentic taste, use instant dashi stocks from Japan. These can be bought in many Asian supermarkets or online (just search for “dashi stock”). Occasionally larger supermarkets also have dashi stock, but these can be expensive.

Note: Most dashi stocks contain fish, but the green one on the right is suitable for vegans.

A range of dashi stocks that can be used to make miso soup

 

Making Dashi From Scratch

The ultimate, authentic dashi is made from scratch.

The essential ingredients for dashi: kombu, shitake mushrooms and katsuobushi flakes

 

  1. Add 20g of kombu to 1 litre warm water and leave to soak. For the perfect dashi the temperature should be held just below 60C for 40 minutes (bitter notes can form if the temperature rises above 60’c).
  2. Remove the kombu and add 40g dried, chopped shitake mushrooms. Simmer gently for an hour.
  3. Remove the mushrooms, then gently stir in 10g of katsuobushi flakes.
  4. Leave for a couple of minutes then strain through a sieve.

Your dashi is now ready to use!

The Ultimate Miso Soup

The best miso soup is made by selecting about 40g of the freshest vegetables and lightly cooking them in 2 cups of dashi.  Popular choices for vegetables in Japan include daikon radish, leeks, seaweed and cabbage, but anything can be used. A few cubes of tofu can also be added. 

Once the vegetables are tender, stir in about 1 tablespoon of miso then transfer directly to a bowl. Enjoy!

 

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Shio Koji

Shio koji is a special marinade that provides three major functions in cookery:

  • Salt consumption is reduced
  • Meat becomes more tender
  • A rich umami (savoury) flavour is produced

Reduce Your Salt Intake

Add shio koji to almost any food as an alternative to salt. If you replace one teaspoon of salt in your recipe with two teaspoons of shio koji your food will taste just as salty, but you will only be using 10% of the salt. 

A high salt diet can raise blood pressure and lead to coronary heart disease and stroke. The NHS recommend that adults should not eat more than 6g of salt a day – this is around a teaspoon. Any steps you take to reduce your salt intake is beneficial for your health. 

Meat becomes more tender

The enzymes present in shio koji have the ability to break down proteins, which makes meat more tender. Marinade any meat (chicken and white fish are especially good) overnight in a thin coating of shio koji and it will be transformed to another level!

Rich Umami Flavour

Shio koji contains protease which has the ability to transform protein into a range of amino acids. This creates a depth of savoury flavour that tastes delicious! It also contains amylase, which performs a similar function on starches; this makes carbohydrate rich food taste sweeter. To improve the flavour of dishes it is best to leave shio koji to ferment for one week before using. 

How to Make Shio Koji

To make shio koji, just mix:
 
Blend to form a smooth paste.
 
Use immediately, or for a deeper flavour, leave in a clean jar at room temperature to ferment for one week. 

 

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What is koji?

Koji is the term for a grain or bean that has been inoculated with Aspergillus Oryzae, a special fungus that has been domesticated for about 9000 years. 

White Rice Koji is made by steaming white rice and then allowing spores of Aspergillus Oryzae to germinate and multiply on it. 

This process is carefully controlled to ensure conditions are perfect for koji growth, with both temperature and humidity monitored continually. The fungus then converts starch within the rice into a range of enzymes, which go on to create the delicious range of savoury/umami flavours within foods like miso and soy sauce.

Before being packaged, the koji is gently dried to preserve it,  and it is then delivered to fermented food enthusiasts around the world!