We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and considering we are trying to refine our Japanese cooking skills, we decided to have a Japanese themed dinner.
We started off our morning gathering all of our ingredients. One of the dishes we wanted to make was Miso Clam Soup so naturally, we had to get some fresh clams.
Diana’s seafood was our go to fish market for this – it’s pretty far from where we live but we can always count on them for having the largest variety of the freshest fish.
We picked up a few items from there but we can post about those later 🙂 We picked up two types of clams for our soup since we wanted to mix it up a bit: Littleneck and savoury clams.
People often store their clams by throwing the closed bag in the fridge or soaking them in water until they’re ready to use. This is not the best way to store your clams as you are at risk of killing them. Clams need to breathe so the first thing you should do when you are home is to open up the bag. Although it is perfectly normal to soak the clams for an hour or so to help them purge the sand they were sucking in from the ocean floor, they should not be soaking in water for any longer than that as clams are not used to living in fresh water.
The best way to store your clams is in a bowl with a damp paper towel placed over it so that it doesn’t lose too much moisture (see picture below on the left). This will keep your clams good for 2-3 days.
Ok – enough about storing clams. Let’s talk about how to make the miso clam soup.
Now that you have the clams, you need to have miso paste to make the miso soup base. We like to use a combination of red (Aka) and white (Shiro) miso paste. You can typically buy this at Asian grocery stores – we bought ours at a Japanese grocery store. The ratio of red to white miso paste you use is personal preference – we like to do 2:1 of red to white miso paste. We also like to add a bit of Sansho pepper (Japanese pepper) to our miso soup prior to serving as it adds a hint of citrusy flavour. We’re not sure if they sell Sansho pepper here in Canada but we got ours when we were in Japan. However, this is completely optional.
Now that you have all your ingredients, you just need your dashi stock. Bring your dashi stock to a boil. Scoop a ladle of the hot dashi stock into a large bowl and add in your miso paste, whisking vigorously until the paste has completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Add in your clams and diced tofu and simmer until the clams open up. Then, you can add the miso mixture back into the rest of the dashi stock. Serve with optional Sansho pepper.
In a medium stock pot, bring dashi stock to a boil.
In a separate large bowl, add the red and white miso paste. Once the dashi is boiling, add one ladle of hot dashi to the large bowl with the miso paste. Whisk vigorously until miso paste has completely dissolved.
Meanwhile, add in your clams, firm tofu, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the clams open up. Then, add in remaining miso paste mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
Serve with a dash of optional Sansho pepper and garnish with green onions.
Whenever I’m craving soup, I often default to chicken noodle soup because it seems to be the easiest to make. I also feel that it has enough substance in it that it could double as a meal opposed to some other soups that I make. It’s not too rich and it’s not too light – just right 🙂 Whenever I’m too lazy to make dinner or lunch, I will just heat this up in the microwave and boom – meal is done.
This soup can be made in just 30 mins. I prefer to use homemade chicken stock opposed to the ones bought in store as I can control the amount of sodium that goes into it. However, any chicken stock will do.
We, Team J, are a frugal bunch. Whenever we go grocery shopping, we often gravitate towards purchasing whichever meat is on sale and then plan our meals around it accordingly. We often find whole chicken to go on sale quite frequently and we like them because they’re extremely versatile. We can debone it and use the other chicken parts for separate dishes. We could then use the chicken carcass to make chicken stock. Over time, we’ve frozen a lot of chicken bones and once we have enough, we make stock and save it for other dishes as well – it never ends!
This chicken stock was used to make Chicken Noodle Soup and Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Bacon (a winning combination!). I found it to be very flavourful and I think the key to that was letting the stock boil without the lid on to really help the flavours concentrate as the excess water boiled off.
If there’s one thing we missed about living at home, it’s the soup that our parents used to make us. We generally prefer drinking Chinese soup opposed to western soup as it tends to be more light. I don’t think you’ll ever see heavy cream being used in a Chinese soup recipe lol. Surprisingly enough, Chinese soup is pretty easy to make but getting the right ingredients can be tricky.
Before I moved out, I asked my dad to give me his Chinese wintermelon soup recipe. It’s quite common for Chinese people to not follow a recipe and just wing it so he did his best to give me his guestimations when it came to how much of each ingredient to put in. We made this several times now and let’s just say the Chinese dried mushrooms made a huge difference in terms of adding flavour!
It’s best to let this soup sit overnight to help the flavours really develop. You can still drink this right away and it’ll taste good but it’ll taste even better tomorrow so try to make this a day in advance 🙂
Here’s how we made the soup:
First, gather your ingredients. As you can see, there aren’t that many.
There are a few key things to note:
Presoak your dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms and dried dates (found in your local chinese supermarket – likely dried soup mix section) in warm water for at least an hour
Do NOT throw away the water which it was soaking in. These ingredients released a lot of flavour so do not waste them. Save them for the soup later.
Try to have a mixture of pork and chicken bones to make the stock. This will enhance the flavour of the soup
Once you have all those items ready, it’s time to parbroil your chicken and pork bones to get rid of all the impurities. Do this for 5 minutes and then rinse it under cold water. Make sure to give them a good rub to really get rid of all the dirty.
After parbroiling the bones, put it back into a large stock pot along with the rest of the ingredients (and the water which the mushrooms and dates were soaking in!) and fill the pot up until all the ingredients are covered. Bring it up to a boil and once boiling, turn it down to a gentle simmer for at least 1 hour.
Although it’s officially spring, it’s still pretty cold out. Due to the fluctuating weather, I caught a cold last week which resulted in me constantly blowing my nose and not being able to breathe properly due to a stuffy nose. Though I recovered very quickly thanks to lots of rest and water, I wanted to help boost my immune system and make myself a nice healthy soup. What better way to recover from a cold than some Carrot Ginger Soup?
Every time I go to a Japanese restaurant, one of dishes that I always order to start my meal is Miso soup. Not wanting to wait until my next sushi meal until I can have Miso soup again, we decided to make our own at home. It’s actually quite simple and once you have the dashi stock down, it’s as simple as adding the miso paste!
This is such a simple yet delicious dish. Tell anyone that knows what a Bouillabaisse is and that you just made it for them from scratch and they are bound to be impressed! None of this using pre-made fish stock business. We’re going to be making the fish stock from scratch to get the best results 🙂Continue reading →