Though miso soup is usually considered an appetizer for lunch or dinner in American Japanese restaurants, this miso soup recipe is inspired by Okinawan centenarian Kamada Nakazato who preferred to eat it for breakfast, spiked with vegetables she picked from her garden. In the United States, miso and fresh shiitake mushrooms are available in Asian markets and many mainstream supermarkets. Darker miso has a stronger flavor and is saltier than lighter white to yellow miso (considered the general purpose miso).
Yield: 4 servings
3 tablespoons miso paste, such as shiro miso (white), miso (aka red miso), or shinshu miso (yellow)
1 ½ tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 ½-inch fresh ginger piece, peeled
½ pound firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and the caps thinly sliced
2 cups pea shoots (about 3 ounces), roughly chopped
6 medium scallions, trimmed and thinly chopped
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Tip: If you like more texture, finely mince the garlic and ginger but don’t put them in the food processor or blender. Instead, add them with the tofu in step 2.
Tip: If fresh shiitake mushrooms are not available, soak 4 large dried shiitakes with warm tap water in a small bowl for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth to remove grit. Use this soaking liquid, reducing the amount of water in the saucepan by an equivalent amount.
Tip: Substitute baby spinach or stemmed watercress for the pea shoots.