Osuimono: Clear Broth with Fish
Osuimono is the other basic Japanese soup: the main alternative to miso soup when you’re making 1 soup-1 dish. At its best, osuimono is a very light broth: it should never be weighed down with too many ingredients, too much salt or – and this is a common mistake – too much soy sauce.
The basic ingredients are water, dashi, soy sauce and sake, but there’s a lot of room for variation with what you put into it. Dropping a beaten egg in it, for instance, works wonderfully. For this recipe, however, I used a filet of sole, some spring onion and lime rinds.
In Japan, I would use sea bream rather than sole, but we’re having trouble finding sea bream in Montreal, and frozen sole filets work well like this. Also, in Japan I would use yuzu rinds – which are soft enough to eat – rather than lime rinds – which you have to discard before serving. Living so far from home, you have to make some compromises.
Ingredients (for two)
for the broth
- Water – 1.5 cups
- Dashi – ¾ of a teaspoon
- Soy sauce – ½ a teaspoon
- Sake – 2 teaspoons
- Salt – just a pinch (less than ½ a teaspoon)
- Konbu – one small section*
*For standard clear broth you can skip the konbu, but for this recipe with fish, it’d be better to add a bit.
- Cut sole filet into chopstick-friendly squares and salt it very lightly
- Peel a bit of rind off of a lime
- Slice spring onion in very thin
Make the broth
- Add konbu to 1.5 cups of cool water and bring to a boil
(When you don’t have konbu, just boil the water)
- Add dashi
- Add sake, salt and soysauce and bring to a boil again
- Set fire on low and put on a back-burner
- Add lime rind
*For simple osuimono, steps 1 to 4 are all you need.
Prepare fish and finish
- Heat a non-stick pan – without adding oil – over a medium flame
- Lightly grill the sole filet pieces on the pan for a few minute on each side until it gets a little bit of color (handle the fish carefully to keep the segments from coming apart)
- Place grilled fish in the bottom of a large soup bowl and sprinkle spring onions on top of it
- Pick out the konbu and the lime rind, discard
- Ladle the broth onto the bowls over the fish
Serve up as soup in 1 soup-1 dish.
For today’s lunch we had osuimono, daikon-no nimono and a bowl of takikomi gohan, which is still going strong from the other night’s dinner.