Kanako's Kitchen

Miso soup with tofu and wakame

Posted in miso soup, Recipe, soup by Kanako Noda on November 22, 2009

In Japan, there are dozens of variations on miso soup. But if one of them can be called the “standard version”, this is it: a light broth containing bits of tofu, wakame seaweed and green onions.

This is probably the version of Miso soup Western people are most familiar with, since it’s the one almost always served at sushi places. Still, you should remember: this is a miso soup, not the miso soup.

It’s easy to see why this version is so popular, though: simple, delicious, and easy to match with any Japanese dish, it’s always tempting to fall back on this recipe when the time comes to make 1-dish 1-soup.
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Osuimono II: Clear Egg-Drop Soup with Wakame

Posted in Recipe, soup, suimono, today's meal by Kanako Noda on November 12, 2009

Osuimono IIHere’s another of many possible variants on Osuimono, a simple clear broth that we use as the main alternative to miso soup. As always with Osuimono, this recipe is simple: a light, delicate broth with a couple of ingredients suspended in it, nothing more.

Whichever variant you choose, you’ll find there’s really not a lot to Osuimono. It takes a certain sensibility to appreciate a soup as austere as this one. But in Japan, this kind of thing is deeply appreciated.

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Sunomono: Cucumber and Wakame Salad in a Vinegar Marinade

Posted in Chopstick Vacation, Recipe, side dish by Kanako Noda on October 21, 2009

sunomonoLiteral translations have a way of sounding ridiculous, and none more so than Sunomono’s: it comes out as “vinegarable thing” or “that which you put vinegar on.” This concept covers a whole family of dainty Japanese salads flavored with a subtle, vinegar-based marinade and sometimes (but not necessarily) topped with seafood.

Ancient documents show that Japanese people have been making sunomono-style dishes at least since writing was first introduced to our country. That’s over 1300 years ago!

Now, sunomono is not exactly a side dish: instead, it’s what we call a “hashi-yasume” (箸休め) which – and here comes another of those crazy literal translations – means “chopstick vacation”. Less poetically – but more helpfully – my dictionary glosses it as a “palate-cleansing side dish.”

You know how sometimes, in a fancy French restaurant, they will serve a tiny dish of sorbet between courses to refresh your palate? Hashi-yasume is a little bit like that: a tiny, refreshing dish that contrasts with and accentuate the experience of eating the main dishes in the meal. That’s why sunomono is always served in very small portions: it’s not really a dish, it’s a holiday for your chopsticks!

One last thing about this recipe: in Japan, you would make sunomono with rice vinegar. Now, if you’re a purist with money to burn, you can certainly find rice vinegar in Europe and North America, too. But we realized a long time ago that good apple cider vinegar works just as well for these kinds of recipes, and costs much less, so that’s what we use here in Montreal.

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