Traditional Japanese miso soup is so simple, a written recipe seems extraneous.
Miso, dashi, tofu and water. Heat. Add scallions, if desired.
Or is it?
For the Rev. Kojo Kakihara, Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s minister, the basic miso formula is a launching point for what can be a much more complicated, vegetable-rich soup.
His brightened-up style of miso soup will be made by temple members and served Sunday at the Tacoma temple’s annual sukiyaki dinner fundraiser.
Kakihara’s version starts with the traditional base of miso – which is fermented soybean paste, in case you’ve never cooked with it (find it at any store that stocks Japanese ingredients). Next comes dashi, a salty soup base commonly made from seaweed and fish. Tofu is next, which Kakihara prefers fried for his miso soup.
The remaining ingredients add what Kakihara describes as refreshing elements. Kakihara adds a dash of yuzu powder made from the dried peel of a fruit that tastes something like a lemon crossed with a mandarin.
Yuzu is more commonly found as a juice at grocery stores that carry Japanese ingredients. It’s tough to find the powder in the South Sound, but Uwajimaya (with three locations in King County) and online gourmet food companies sell it.
Kakihara’s is finished with a float of daikon leaves. When boiled, the green leaves from the daikon radish add a slightly pungent tone, something like a very mild turnip green.
Are yuzu and daikon leaves wild card ingredients? Somewhat, said Kakihara. A soup’s ingredients can vary by region in Japan, but also by season, he said. Home cooks could consider a spring ingredient: asparagus.
He added that with the deeper, darker flavor tones of the sukiyaki dinner served at Sunday’s event, he was aiming for a lighter, brighter soup.
“You can put mostly anything in miso,” Kakihara said. “We put pumpkin or cabbage, spinach, potato, sweet potato or sometimes we put enoki mushrooms in it.”
When experimenting at home, two ingredients Kakihara prefers add a light sweetness to the soup: pumpkin and onions.
While the Japanese one-pot dish sukiyaki – a soup of beef, noodles, tofu and vegetables – is the foundation of the Sunday event that raises money for temple activities, miso soup will be served along with terikyaki chicken, beef kabobs and mochi ice cream and cupcakes for dessert.
Tacoma Buddhist Temple Sukiyaki DinnerWhen: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, March 2, 2014. Temple service begins at 10 a.m.Where: 1717 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-1417, tacomabt.orgCost: Free admission. Food items range from $2-$12.Menu: Sukiyaki dinner ($12), teriyaki chicken dinner ($9), beef kabobs ($3), Mochi ice cream or cupcakes ($2), miso soup ($2).