In my technology career I was blessed to spend 3 months in Japan on business. I just loved it. The food was to die for I even lost like 20 lbs! Everyone was very friendly even if they didn't make eye contact their culture was warm and inviting. Experiencing their traditions was something that will stay with me forever and I do hope I can take Wesley to Japan one day.
A memory while I was in Japan. During the day I had a translator that I worked with at night I was on my own. I went to a sushi bar for dinner. What I discovered was that each bar only focuses on one kind of dish...Sushi, Unagi, Tempura, Soba, Shabu-Shabu & Fugu (I had them all and even too many more to list). You agree on a price and they seat you and bring you food. What a wonderful experience, I didn't have to make any decisions or deal with the language. This particular bar was selling Sushi and I had such a lovely experience I went back the second night thinking I have a home they remembered me I will come every night! They had me sit in a special chair, we agreed on a price and then they disappeared into the back and brought out their 'special items' and they were very excited for me to try their special foods. It was a hard dinner. Their special items are not so special to me. I still have the salty, slimy, raw taste of sea cucumbers in my mouth! I did eat every bit of it as it's rude not to eat what is offered. Needless to say I never went back to the same restaurant twice after that experience! Which lead to trying so many wonderful places!
When I came back to the states I wanted to try cooking the food I had in Japan. I found a book that does an amazing job breaking it all down. Harumi Japanese Home Cooking. She providing sources and techniques in an easy format. So if you are interested, she even has an easy udon recipe! Super easy super fast and super good! So much better than the dried versions.
True miso soup, starts with seaweed. As Japanese food aficionados know, the basic broth that serves as the foundation for most Japanese cooking, including miso soup, is called dashi. To make dashi, you drop sheets of crackly dried kelp into cold water called konbu in Japanese. I omit the fish flakes for my Vegan customers. I really don't even miss it. Turn the heat on medium and hang around the kitchen, keeping an eye on things. You want to bring the water to an almost boiling point without letting it actually boil. This can take a while.
Don't ever boil your miso soup. Most Japanese cooks believe the kelp releases bitter compounds if the water boils. I don't know if it turns bitter. I do know if you let the miso boil you will kill the active enzymes, the taste and a lot of the benefits of Miso will disappear. Besides we don't want to anger the God of Miso!
In 1908, Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda, discovered kelp will release compounds known as glutamate, which is the savory taste of umami. Ikeda discovered the compound could be manufactured into a white powder which we know as MSG. So skip the chips section, because Miso Soup is Mother Nature's MSG! Drink up.
This is Vegan & Gluten Free
Ingredients: Seaweed, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, fennel, peas, miso, chili, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, leek, soy sauce, Tofu, soba (buckwheat), cilantro, sesame seeds, lime