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Vegan Recipes From Japan
Miso soup is a soup to have every day. It’s an essential part of the traditional Japanese breakfast and is served with a bowl of rice and pickled vegetables. It’s often served in hotels on a tray with a slice of grilled salmon. The different types of dashi are mostly available in the form of instant powders and granules in sachets. Together with an excellent miso paste, the other basic ingredient is water. It’s quick and simple.

The nice thing about miso soup in the morning is that it warms the stomach wonderfully. Buttered bread, on the other hand, has to come to the right temperature in the stomach first, and just for that to happen you need more energy, which actually comes from eating. With miso soup for breakfast, you’re already warmed up to face the cold of winter, which they also have in Japan. We were guided by this idea, although the dashi we use is home-made. The accompanying vegetables can be chosen freely according to availability, such as carrots, parsnips, leeks and celeriac. These all keep over the winter and are always available.

As is common in Japan, the intensity of the stocks, broths and soups increases in winter, and people like to use more robust miso pastes. We’ve taken note of this and use a miso paste made with whole soya beans and brown rice.

Tofu is also added to the soup as a classic garnish. However, here it’s quickly and easily coated in sesame seeds and briefly fried in oil until golden brown. We don’t add salt to the tofu, because, protected by the sesame seeds, it forms a soft and clear void in the richly flavoured miso soup. Fortified in this way, we can face the cold and dark winter days.

Serves 2

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© 2022 Härtig, Malte / Grub Street Publishing · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Cut the tofu into cubes (at least the size of your thumb tip, about 3
    cm). Make a batter by mixing the flour with 2 tablespoons of water.
    Dip the tofu in the batter and roll in the sesame seeds. Set aside on
    kitchen paper.

  • Step 2

    Heat about 2 cm of oil in a small frying pan. Fry the tofu cubes
    on two opposing sides over a medium heat until golden brown (the
    remaining sides should also turn golden in the process).

  • Step 3

    Cut the vegetables into batons. Heat the dashi and add the mirin.
    Cook the vegetable sticks in the dashi, leaving them firm to the
    bite. Reduce the heat and stir in the miso paste. The soup needs no
    further cooking. Season with salt.

  • Step 4

    Serve the soup with the vegetable batons and tofu cubes.

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