A food community on Google plus challenged it’s members to try making Japanese cuisine. They offered wonderful guidelines and I accepted the challenge.

When I said I was there for the Miso Soup challenge I didn’t know it would be a near impossible task to find miso paste in Lahore ! The first lesson I learnt was never accept a challenge in the heat of the moment ! I literally turned every stone to find miso paste but in vain. I started searching the Internet for substitutes but every recipe replied that there was no real substitute for it. Near disappointment, it struck me that I haven’t checked the health stores yet, considering miso is such a great probiotic and health food…voilà !… I found the red miso at a GNC store. Second lesson learnt, you can even find God if you try hard enough 😀 …jokes apart I’ve never enjoyed cooking something so much as making the super simple Dashi and then, using that, creating absolutely delicious and comforting miso soup !

It tasted like the flood gates of umami opened up ! To make my version of miso soup, I aimed at achieving a soup rich in colours and textures…and the wonderful seasonal vegetables like carrots, daikon and cabbage were there to back up my plan. My favourite food taster, my husband, decided that its going to be a frequent presence on our dinning table in winters. So, the third lesson, all is well that ends well 😉

For Shiitake Dashi :

1.5 litres water
A handful of dried Shiitake mushrooms

This Is What You Do :

Clean mushrooms with a kitchen towel and soak them in water for 30 minutes. Bring the water and mushrooms to a simmer for ten minutes. Strain and save the Dashi to make the base for Miso soup. Set aside mushrooms to add later to the soup.

For Vegetable Miso Soup :

I litre Shiitake Dashi
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in strips
1/2 daikon, peeled and cut in cubes
Mushrooms from Dashi, sliced
I cup cabbage, torn
1 stalk spring onion, chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons red miso paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 inch piece ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red chilli paste

This Is What You Do :

Heat Dashi in a pan on medium heat, add ginger and garlic, let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and discard ginger and garlic, add carrots and daikon cubes. Cover the pan and turn off heat, after five minutes lift the lid to check if the vegetables are tender. Scoop out a ladle of soup and mix with Miso paste in a bowl. Add to the soup, add mushrooms, soya sauce and chilli paste. Add cabbage leaves, simmer on low heat for 2 minutes. Ladle out in bowls and garnish with spring onions and bean sprouts.
Makes 4 servings

Tip: if you can’t find red miso paste then try mixing 3 tablespoons of soya sauce with 1 tablespoon tomato paste for flavour, won’t be the same but the result will be good.

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