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Miso soup

みそ汁 Miso soup

The heart of the Japanese cooking. The popular-favorite, the miso soup. It is the daily must-have for the Japanese.
To make miso soup, dissolve the miso paste and heat ingredients such as tofu and vegetables in the soup stock. Miso is full of nutrition and is good for health.


Keywords

  • ◆Ingredients
    Ingredients of the miso soup have few taboos. From seafood to vegetables, meat, almost everything can be added as ingredients.
  • ◆Taste of Mom's cooking
    Every family has its own taste of miso and soup stock and these make the domestic home-cooked dishes.
  • ◆Omiotsuke
    A term used in the imperial court to refer to miso soup, sometimes used in families.
  • GURUNAVI Japanese Restaurants in Shingapore
  • GURUNAVI Japanese Restaurants

About
What is Miso Soup?
Miso soup: the most popular side dish in Japan.

Miso soup

One of the most popular dishes in the Japanese cuisine is miso soup. Miso soup is one of the side dishes that are served most often in Japan. Majority of the Japanese eat miso soup almost every day, and all Japanese meals are typically accompanied by miso soup. Nowadays, miso soup is served even with fast-food bento boxes, not to mention at cafeterias and restaurants. Miso soup tops of the list and is a must-have in the Japanese cuisine.

It is easy to make miso soup. The base stock is taken from either fish like bonito or dried sardines or seaweed like kombu. Miso is then added to the stock to make the soup.

There are a wide variety of miso and additions for the soup. The two most popular miso are red miso and white miso. You can then add different ingredients; seafood such as wakame, clams, and crab, and vegetables such as scallions and taro. There are some eccentric ones such as eggs, natto, and cabbage that are gaining popularity today.

There are whole different varieties of miso soup due to regional differences as well as unique family recipes. Miso soup has so many variations because it is the most popular dish in Japan.

That is the reason why there are so many different flavors of miso soup depending on the family recipes and the regions of Japan.

Miso soup is most often associated with home cooking and represents the “taste of home.” While it is often the dish a man desires his lover to cook for him, it could create an ambivalent feeling when the flavor differs from what he is used to.

Outside of homes, tasting the miso soup is often the way to judge the quality of a restaurant. Miso soup, albeit it is only a side dish, definitively is the heart of the Japanese cooking.

History
Miso soup originated as combat food or preserved food.

Miso soup

Preserving beans with salt created miso which used to be eaten by itself. Miso became a seasoning when they started to add it to soups.

There are different views on how they first started to make miso soup. One theory is that miso soup making became popular among the farmers in the country during the Muromachi period (1336–1573). Another is that it was created as combat ration during the Sengoku period (1493–1590) when many wars were fought. Through the years, miso soup became widespread in Japan and is now viewed as one of the most common Japanese food. By the Edo period (1603–1868), it had become available to the entire population in Japan. The most typical Japanese meal would include rice, miso soup, pickles, and a side dish. This style of meal still remains today.

Preparations
To “Polish” the Stock

Miso soup

There are many different varieties of miso soup although they all share the basic method of seasoning the stock with miso. There are even different “schools of thoughts” in the traditions of miso soup making among different restaurants and localities. There are even sort of cultural followings for particular ways of preparing stock or how to heat the soup.

Today, things have become more convenient with products such as instant stock granules or miso with stock flavorings. However, some are very particular about how to make more flavorful stock and go as far as to remove the head and insides of dried sardines before making the stock with them.

Instant miso soup is not exactly a new invention. Because miso soup was created by the commoners in Japan, instant miso soup was also a necessity in the old days. Imogara nawa, for example, was an instant miso soup eaten in combat during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) when many wars were fought.

Today, instant miso soup is available at convenient stores and supermarkets. Many Japanese enjoy instant miso soup which you can make by just adding hot water into the cup in which it is sold.

Regional differences
Regional cultures differentiate the otherwise simple miso soup

Miso soup

Different variations of miso soup were developed to fit the culture of different regions of Japan as previously described. Let’s take a look at some of the wonderful regional specialties.

1. Koikoku
Specialty of the Hokuriku and the inland Tohoku regions. Pieces of carp sliced cross-wise are the main feature of this miso soup. In the Shinshu region, it is a special dish served for guests. Many tourists fall in love with the wonderful flavor of rich Shinshu miso and tender carp.

2. Crab soup
Upscale miso soup made with indulgent crab.
This local and seasonal miso soup in Tottori Prefecture specifically uses female snow crab called Seiko crab.

3. Ozoni
Ozoni is a special soup eaten on the New Year’s Day. There are some versions of ozoni which are miso based.
Miso-based ozoni are Kansai style. It uses white miso and has round mochi rice cakes and decoratively-cut daikon radish, carrots, and taro.

4. Dago Soup of Kumamoto
This simple soup has wheat noodles (or dango “dago” dumplings) and is either miso or soy sauce based. It has burdock roots, carrots, shimeji mushrooms, and pork. It is very similar to pork miso soup, and it is just as popular and very easy to make.

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