This Japanese soup is the classic example used when explaining umami. The base for it is called Dashi (dah-she) and it has kelp, bonito flakes, and shoyu which are all rich in umami.
Umami is found in tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed, truffles, soy beans, seafood, aged meats and
parmesan cheese. It is is the fifth flavor (behind sweet, salty, bitter and sour) and that it was discovered about one hundred years ago in Japan. Some people refer to it “yumminess.” It is a flavor component found in food just as the more familiar four are that provides a high level of satiety. Because of this some countries are using umami-rich diets to reduce obesity and diabetes rates.
The recipe below takes only about ten minutes to make. The dried bonito is somehow reminiscent of smoky bacon and the miso paste mixed with water tastes a little similar to chicken broth. One would think it would taste fishy but it does not. It would be the perfect soup to eat when feeling a bit under the weather as, like many soups, it’s very comforting.
Recipe by Amber Share
8 cups water
4 inch x 4 inch piece kombu
(Japanese dried kelp)
1/2 cup flaked bonito (katsuo-bushi)
2 teaspoons shoyu (low sodium soy sauce)
1/2 cup light miso paste
7 1/2 cups dashi
8 ounces firm tofu
4 green onions
Step 1 - Dashi (soup base) To a large saucepan add the water and kombu. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add bonito. Steep for 3 minutes. Strain.
Step 2 - Soup preparation Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch pieces. Heat the miso paste and dashi together in a pot very gently. Stir constantly. Do not boil. Add the tofu. After one minute remove from heat. Garnish by snipping green onions over soup. Poached shrimp would make a nice addition to this soup.
Ingredients are available at AsianFoodGrocer, your local Whole Foods or Asian Grocery Store.