Garnish: Clear soup garnish can be varied considerably. Always use just a few carefully chosen items. Don't clutter the bowl. The effect should be like an elegant little still-life painting seen through the perfectly clear soup. All cutting should be done carefully and neatly. Garnish items include:
Tofu, cut in small cubes
Cooked pork loin or chicken breast, cut in small dice, batonnet, or julienne
Lobster tail, in thin slices
Cooked fish, separated into flakes (use a type that separates into large, firm flakes, such as snapper or cod)
Small clams, steamed and removed from shell (the broth can be clarified, diluted, and used for soup base instead of dashi)
Carrots, cut julienne
Fresh white mushrooms, sliced thin
Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, simmered, and cut into julienne
Wakame (a type of seaweed); soak until soft, cut into small pieces and discard the hard ribs, and simmer in the soup 2 minutes
Chinese cabbage, shredded
Fresh ginger root, cut into fine shreds (use only a few shreds per serving)
Bamboo shoots, sliced thin
White radish, sliced thin or shredded
Miso soup is made simply by dissolving miso (fermented paste made of soybeans, barley, and/or rice) in dashi. The two main categories of miso are white miso, which is actually light yellowish in color and has a sweet, mild taste, and red or dark miso, which comes in varying shades of reddish brown and is stronger and saltier in taste. General proportions for soup are 4 tbsp (60 mL) red miso or 6 tbsp (90 mL) white miso, per quart (liter) of dashi. Put the miso in a small bowl and carefully stir in a ladleM of hot dashi. Stir until completely lump-free. Add enough dashi so the miso is thin and pourable. (Do not add miso directly to soup, or it will not mix in properly.) Carefully stir the dissolved miso into the remaining hot dashi. Season to taste and, if desired, add 1-2 tsp (5-10 mL) soy sauce. Add desired garnish as for clear soup, except that the garnish can be added directly to the soup kettle. Because this is a heartier soup, it is more often garnished with tofu and vegetables than is more delicate seafood. Stir before serving, as the miso settles out.
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