I hold in my heart the desire to travel the world; amercing myself in the cultures, foods, and peoples of all nations. I love all of these things and believe that the beauty each country holds in these expressions are worthy of celebration. SO, with much excitement (and a little trepidation) this is the beginning of a Culinary Journey Around the World!
On Wednesday’s I’ll be sharing authentic recipes of the country we’re visiting- which can easily be duplicated in your kitchen plus sharing tips on ingredients and what to look for at the store. I hope you’ll find this new Culinary Journey fun and inspiring as we visit, learn, and enjoy cuisines of the world.
As part of each Culinary Journey Around the World posts I’ll be highlighting scenic places, typical cooking habits, and cultures of the places we visit. We’ll focus on each country for four weeks, so here we are starting off in Japan so lets get loving the Japanese Cuisine…
Japanese home cooking, like american home cooking, can be elaborate and quite special at times, but it’s often just down-home cooking meant to nourish the family. For breakfast it’s often a bowl of Miso Soup, rice, and maybe a rolled omelet, some salted fish, and a pickled vegetable. Lunch typically includes some kind of noodle- soba, udon, or ramen- as well as one-dish meals such as rice bowls with meat and vegetables. The Bento Box, which is 3-5 compartments in a box serving tray, it’s a similar idea to our brown bag lunches. Dinner at home is casual. Everyone gets their own bowl of Miso Soup and a bowl of rice. Various dishes are placed in the center so everyone can serve themselves… meat, vegetables, and a pickled dish. Fresh fruit and green tea typically finish off the meal.
It seems to me that since Miso Soup is such a staple food, we’d best start there! Miso is a fermented soybean paste with the texture of peanut butter. It’s made by steaming a grain such as rice or barley, to which koji is added to begin the fermentation, it’s then aged for a period of time- usually a year or more.
The end result is a nutrient dense, high protein, and delicious paste that flavors marinades and soups. There are differing strengths of Miso- generally the lighter the color of the miso, the lighter the flavor.
I found yellow miso in the refrigerated section of our local Asian Market along with the soft tofu. The Dashi granules I found on the flavorings isle and if you need help figuring out what to buy just ask an employee and they’ll help you. It was actually a really cool experience to see all the different products in the Asian Market, so many things I’d never seen before. Take the kids have fun exploring a new kind of market! Oh and the guy that helped me during my shopping experience also suggested sprinkling some Cut Wakame Dried Seaweed on top of the Japanese Miso Soup and I really liked it and you may want to try it too!
The country of Japan is absolutely breath-taking, I had such a hard time picking photos and scenic places to share…
One of the most popular spots in Japan is Miyajima Island which from ancient times, people have sensed the spiritual sanctity of Miyajima, and have revered and worshipped the island itself as goddesses.
Below is a photo of the great Torii which is the sacred gate of Itsukushima Shrine … isn’t that just breathtaking!! This incredible shrine standing in the sea began construction in 1168 and is now over 800 years old! WOW. That’s just amazing!
The shrine is comprised of the main (inner) shrine consists of 37 buildings and the outer shrine, which lay in front on both sides of the shore, consists of 19 buildings.
The photo below is at low tide…
Since the shrine is built in the sea, the foundation posts are submerged in the water and decay rather easily. Furthermore, the shrine becomes weathered and is sometimes battered by the sea breezes and typhoons. Although constant and comprehensive maintenance is required due to these natural factors, nearly 800 years have passed since Itsukushima Shrine was first built.
Japanese Miso Soup has always been a favorite of mine when visiting Asian restaurants- little did I know it was so simple to make at home! I nearly ate the whole pot all by myself 🙂 I kept it just fine in the fridge for a day and I warmed a portion of it up as I enjoyed each bowl.
I hope you’ll give Japanese Miso Soup a try in your home! Just a few minutes and a couple of ingredients and you’ve got a healthy and filling soup.
Happiest of Wednesdays!
AND cheers to our new Culinary Journey Around the World!!
Much Love and Peace~
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon instant Dashi granules (I bought HonDashi Bonito Soup Stock)
- 3 tablespoons light yellow miso
- ⅓ pound cubed soft tofu, cubed
- ⅓ cup scallions, sliced
- In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, bring water to just a simmer.
- Add instant Dashi granules, do not let boil, gently stir to incorporate.
- Place miso in a small mixing bowl, add ½ cup dashi, mash with fork to mix into water - will be thick but still liquid.
- Pour Miso mixture into sauce pan and stir to combine.
- Add tofu and allow to warm through over medium heat; stirring occasionally. Do NOT boil.
- Sprinkle scallions on soup and ladle into serving bowls.