Basic Miso Soup

Basic Miso Soup

Basic Miso Soup Recipe

You would be hard-pressed to find a Japanese restaurant that does not have a Miso Soup somewhere on the menu, and any aficionado of Japanese cuisine will have tried it at one time or another.

Strictly speaking, a miso soup could be any soup given an umami boost with the addition of the Japanese fermented soy-bean paste known as ‘Miso’ but generally, the soup base is the rich sea-stock called Dashi, and typically only two or three other ingredients are included. The version pictured above simply includes a little Tofu, along with Scallions and Wakame seaweed.

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Lobster Shell Stock

Lobster Shell Stock

Lobster Shell Stock Recipe

It is always a good idea, whenever you cook lobster, to save the shells for making stock. Some lobster stocks can be quite complex, employing many additions such as garlic, celery, tomato paste and various aromatics, for example, but it is also possible to make a simple stock with nothing but the shells from a couple of Lobsters and some white peppercorns and a bay leaf. The result will be simple enough to be highly versatile, and can then be used as the base for all sorts of soups, stews and sauces.

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Dashi - Japanese Sea Stock

Dashi - Japanese Sea Stock

Dashi – Japanese Sea Stock

In Japanese cookery, the term Dashi can simply refer to a stock made from seaweed, mushrooms, dried fish, or some combination of these. However, unless the type is actually specified, the bare term ‘Dashi’ means a stock made from two very umami-rich ingredients: Kombu Seaweed, and Katsuobushi, which is dried, smoked, and fermented Skipjack Tuna, or Bonito.

This very basic preparation is used in countless Japanese dishes including soups, hotpots, braised and simmered dishes, as well as a variety of sauces. It such a cornerstone of Japanese cuisine that it is almost possible to have had a multicourse meal in a Japanese restaurant without having had Dashi in one dish or another. You can buy Instant Dashi Soups Stocks to prepare it these days, but if you are interested in Japanese cookery on your own kitchen, learning how to prepare this important, but simple stock is essential.

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Rich Tomato Sauce

Rich Tomato Sauce

Rich Tomato Sauce Recipe

A very basic Tomato Sauce can be made with nothing other than tomatoes. However, for most purposes, other vegetables, typically, Onion, Celery, and sometimes Carrot, are included, along with Herbs and Seasonings. Here, we are taking the basic form and enhancing and enriching it with Red Wine and a good-quality, flavorful Bone Broth.

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Beef Soup with Daikon and Mustard

Beef Soup with Daikon and Mustard

Beef Soup with Daikon and Mustard

This Soup is surprisingly hearty and filling despite the fact it contains only a few ingredients. There are a few simple preparation steps, but you can have a finished soup in a very short time indeed. It is rich and slightly tangy from the acidity of pickled vegetable greens, and can be a first course soup, or the main feature in a light meal served with bread, or even a light salad.

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Roasted Vegetable Soup
Roasted Vegetable Soup

Roasted Vegetable Soup

I was first inspired to use roasted vegetables in order to make soup after one of my fellow bloggers, , Lola Rugula, posted a recipe for a Roasted Garlic and Vegetable Soup. Up until then, I had never even thought of trying it and I was very pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavor that resulted. Here, I have made a soup using roasted Cauliflower, Leek, Carrot and Parsnip, all four of which are beautifully enhanced by the rich flavors produced during the roasting process.


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A Chinese 滷水 Master Sauce
A Chinese Master Sauce

The Chinese 滷水 Master Sauce is less a sauce than it is a highly aromatic braising stock in which a succession of meats are cooked in the Chinese 红烧, or ‘Red-Cooked Style’. The sauce infuses all the meat or poultry cooked in it with delicious flavors and a beautiful, red-brown color, while becoming richer and richer with each use. The broth can be re-used again and again, and it I said that there are some Master Sauces that have been in continual use for generations.

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Preserved Pork Belly and Daikon Soup
Preserved Pork Belly and Daikon Soup

Preserved Pork Belly and Daikon Soup

In this recipe, I have used homemade Chinese-Style Preserved Pork Belly, and homemade Pickled Daikon to make a soup in which the sweetness of the cured pork is offset and complemented by the sour tang of the brine-fermented vegetable. The rich Chicken Broth base is enhanced with Ginger, Shaoxing Wine, and just a hint of Chili.


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A Jellied Rich Brown Bone Broth
A Jellied Rich Brown Bone Broth

Making a Rich Brown Bone Broth … or Brown Stock … or whichever.

The picture above may not look much like a broth, but, when chilled, a very rich broth that has been prepared with lots of collagen containing bone, skin, and connective tissue will form a thick, highly nutritious jelly when cooled.

The recipe here uses bones and attached meat which are first roasted before being simmered, and this gives the resultant broth (or stock) a deep brown color. In classical Western Cookery (chiefly from the French tradition), this makes it a ‘Brown Stock’, in contrast to a ‘White Stock’ where the meat, and any vegetables used, are sometimes blanched, but not roasted.

Traditionally, a ‘proper’ Brown Stock is made with Veal Bones, but, here, I am using a mix of Beef Marrow Bones and whole Pork Hocks with the skin still attached.

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Pork Belly and Conpoy Soup
Pork Belly and Conpoy Soup

Pork Belly and Conpoy Soup

The Pork Belly in this soup is actually the Chinese-style Preserved Pork Belly, or 五花臘肉. It adds a sweetness that plain pork belly does not have and it richly complements the umami flavor of the dried Scallops known as ‘Conpoy’. The main flavorings of  the soup are developed in a good, hearty Chicken Stock, and rounded out with Ginger, Chinese Dried Black Mushroom (aka Shiitake), and Goji Berries. It is a very hearty soup, and perfect for cold, wintry days.


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