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COOKING LESSONS FROM JAPAN

Chunky miso chowder

(Heath Robinson)
By Debra Samuels
Globe Correspondent / November 2, 2011

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Serves 4

DASHI

3  cups water 

1 1/2  strips (5 inches each) kelp 

3/4  cup loosely packed bonito flakes 

1. In a saucepan, combine the water and kelp. Let the kelp sit in the water for 20 minutes. Bring the water almost to a boil over medium heat. Remove the kelp. Bring the water to a boil, add the bonito flakes and turn off the heat. The bonito will settle to the bottom of the pot, which will take 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Set a tightly woven mesh strainer over a bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth or a paper towel. Pour the stock through the strainer; set aside.

CHOWDER

1  block (14 to 16 ounces) soft or medium tofu 

2  tablespoons canola oil 

1/4  pound boneless pork cutlet, cut into thin 2-inch strips 

2  carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal  

1  russet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces 

5  dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes 

1  can (15 ounces) whole bamboo shoot, cut into 1-inch pieces 

1  medium onion, sliced 

1/2  cup fermented red or white miso paste 

1. Set the tofu in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute; drain the liquid.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pork and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, bamboo shoot, and onions. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid.

4. Add the mushroom liquid to the vegetable mixture with the dashi. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

5. In a bowl, stir 1/4 cup of the hot broth into the miso paste. Mix well to dissolve it. Stir the miso mixture into the soup.

6. Crumble the tofu into large chunks. Add to the soup and simmer 2 minutes. Ladle into bowls. . Adapted from “My Japanese Table’’