Japanese soup question?
I have a rather picky child that likes Asian food (go figure). She does not like soup except for the soup that teppanyaki-style restaurants serve as a first course. I am assuming that it is chicken stock with green onion and dried onion in it. Am I wrong on this?
Well... there's what it's supposed to be, and what I've seen served at these places that are run by primarily by Chinese. The Japanese soup is supposed to be Suimono or clear soup - Suimono actually translates simply as "something to drink". It is supposed to be refreshing and help prepare the palate for what's to come. It is served in small covered lacquered bowls. There is a formality to this soup that obviously doesn't travel well to the US - especially to the Chinese teppanyaki places. It involves, having three types of ingredients - sometimes one of these types is strictly for flavoring and isn't supposed to be eaten.
The Suimono base is normally dashi, not chicken. Dashi is made from dried fish and kombu seaweed, with some mirin. Tsuji also has a Hamaguri (clam) based recipe in his book.
But given that your daughter likes the soup at the teppanyaki restaurant, the chances are that they use chicken broth, rather than dashi.
Whether dashi or chicken broth, all that's usually done is to add some salt and sugar and a little soy sauce (very little). Finely chop some scallions and add whatever else comes to mind even small pieces of chicken would be fine.
If you do want the authentic taste - and for all I know, your favorite teppanyaki place does do the real thing - you might just go to a Japanese food store and look for an instant soup that comes in a narrow, long dark brown plastic package with a yellow label. It's really available anywhere - it's a favorite of all Japanese. There are other brands, but make sure you're getting Suimono or Osuimono. Don't get the yellow and green striped ones - that's ochazuke (very good also, but a different animal altogether). The narrow brown package has 3 individual servings - just mix one with a small cup of hot water (don't use too much water - it will dilute the flavor too much), and there you go... This instant soup is actually very good - I drink it all the time, and I've had really, really good Suimono.
Very curious to find out what the soup is. Have you considered calling the restaurant? Or, next time you go, be sure to ask. Can not imagine that they would not tell you what it is.
Is there wakame in the soup? Hint of ginger? Another variation of the suimono you find a lot at Chinese restaurants in Japan is wakame, ginger and sesame seeds with chicken broth.
Once you sort out the base soup, you will be able to use that as a standard soup and add different things to that. Do keep us all posted on what it is.