The Japanese Seafood Soup is inspired by the successful response for my Tonkotsu Ramen Soup. Ever since I made my Tonkotsu Ramen Soup, I have been experimenting with more Japanese recipes. I have tried out Japanese seafood soup few times at restaurants and it's liveliness, warmth and richness of taste inspired me to try it at home. Recently, I bought a pack of readymade miso paste and was finding ways to use it. Based at Hong Kong, I am in luck to grab the freshest seafood in the wet market too: fresh to the extent that the shrimps are swimming lively in the fish tank and the clams in the water are all with closed shells! The day I bought some of these “alive-and-kicking” seafood from the wet market in Tsing Yi, I determined to make this soup on my way back home. Well, it was raining for the past few days here in Hong Kong, although Typhoon Vicente was just over. I seriously needed a hearty seafood soup to warm me up!
I have used two kinds of mushrooms in this soup: shiitake and straw mushrooms. You can use enoki, shimjei or nameko mushrooms as well. The brown-coloured Shiitake mushrooms are my favourite choice while cooking Japanese or Chinese dishes. Not only I love the texture, but I want to include these mushrooms in some way or the other in my weekly family menu plan because of its health benefits. Apart from other good reasons, shiitake is considered beneficial for health because of its ability to reduce bad cholesterol in the body.
What is miso?If you are cooking Japanese, you need to know about two ingredients: shoyu and miso. Shoyu is what is popularly known as soy sauce, although the Japanese version tastes and smells quite different than the Chinese. Miso is a salty, fermented paste. It is made by boiling and crushing soy beans and mixing it with a culture of wheat and rice, barley or beans. The mixture is fermented for as long as three years before it becomes the commercially available “miso paste”. Based upon its intensity in terms of flavour and colour, miso is graded into three groups: shiro-miso (white and light), aka-miso (red and medium) and kuro-miso (black and strong). These kinds of miso are made with rice, barley and soy beans, respectively. It is important to add miso at the end of the cooking to preserve its health benefits, taste and aroma. If you are adding miso paste in a soup, do not add generous amounts, but dissolve a small amount of miso in a little amount of the boiling soup and then mix into the main soup towards the end of cooking.
Japanese seafood soup
Small clams: 16
Small shrimps (de-veined): 16
Chicken stock: 2 cups
Water: 2 cups
Fresh ginger root juice: 1.5 tsp
Commercial red miso paste: 1.5 tsp
Pak choi (greens): 7
Shiitake mushrooms (chopped lengthwise): 6
Straw mushrooms (chopped lengthwise): 6
Salt: ½ tsp (or according to taste)
Wash the clams thoroughly under the running water, preferably with a brush, to remove sand and gravel. Discard those whose shells are open.
Boil a mixture of chicken stock and water, along with the salt and fresh ginger root juice. Plunge the clams into the boiling soup and wait for 3 min. After 3 min, all the shells would open up. Discard those clams with un-opened shells. Add the shrimps to the boiling soup and continue boiling for 1 min.
Add the pak choi and the mushrooms and cover the soup for 10 min. At the end of 10 min, take out ½ cup of boiling soup and dissolve the miso paste in this. Add this to the main soup and boil for 2 min on high flame.
Japanese seafood soup is ready!