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Miso soup problem

When we go to a Japanese restaurant we start with a small bowl of delicious miso soup.
At home I make primary dashi. If you haven't made it you must! So easy and delicious and good for you.
Anyway. I have always had a problem with the white miso paste I add to the dashi separating and floating to the bottom of the bowl like a cloud.
This doesn't happen in Japanese restaurants. At least when we have it.
I don't like too much miso so I only add a T to 1 litre of dashi.
What am I doing wrong?
I always make sure the miso paste is thoroughly mixed into the dashi BTW.

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  1. I add lower sodium white miso past to miso soup dry mix, and I whisk the hell out of it to get it not to clump at the bottom.

    1. Miso soup from the restaurants I go to sort of separates into clear on top and cloudy on the bottom. I just stir it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: C. Hamster

        I do stir it in at home. No worries.
        Just a thought: Does anyone think by adding just a pinch of corn starch,first mixed into a little water of course then added to the miso would stop the separating?
        I'm going to try this next time and give an update.

        1. re: Puffin3

          I was thinking the same thing. Maybe mix the miso paste with corn starch before adding.
          Hmm.. going to try that now with some miso soup.

      2. Not clear on exactly how you're adding the miso, but if you're not doing this already, try thoroughly mixing the miso into a few tablespoons of dashi separately, and then adding that mixture to the rest of the soup. Generally makes for a more even mixture with less work.

        That said, miso will always slowly settle in a soup, so once you have it well mixed, you should eat it promptly or give it a good stir before eating if it sits around a while.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cowboyardee

          What my husband does is pass the miso through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon (using the same sieve we use for scum skimming). That keeps it from clumping.

          He also makes it with just miso, no dashi.

          I do find that restaurant miso will separate given enough time, but I just stir it.

        2. first of all Puffin, I love a good miso soup. Vancouver with all it's sushi places often offer it with your meal. it's duh bom.
          please may I ask you to post your recipe for dashi. I'd appreciate it, never even considered I could make that myself.

          as others have said the miso does go clear on top and cloudy on the bottom of the bowl. I'll be interested in suggestions you get. good luck and please do post your conclusion back for us all. thanks

          11 Replies
          1. re: iL Divo

            This is C&Ped from another thread:
            If there is one recipe that must be followed using the correct proportions of flakes water and konbu this is it.
            15 g konbu well rinsed in cold water.
            1 liter cold water
            15 g bonito flakes
            Cut the washed konbu into large pieces. Into pan with the cold water. Cook until it just comes to the boil over medium heat setting. Remove kelp. Add 1/4 C cold water. Add flakes. Bring just to the boil. Remove from heat immediately. Allow flakes to settle to the bottom. Strain mixture through a sieve/coffee filter.
            Store in fridge but use ASAP. Actually I now double the recipe.
            I did have some left over miso soup from last night. I did add a small amount of corn starch mixed in a little cold water first. Didn't work. The miso still settled on the bottom. Still delicious!
            It's so simple and the results are so worth it. Make sure to leave the konbu in the water long enough. It balances the flavor of the bonito.

            1. re: Puffin3

              puffin you are so kind to post that for me.I think this is way over my head. I know nothing of these ingredients.
              where do I buy these items please? an Asian market? or ? I'm lost here.......and it takes a lot to cornfuzz me

              1. re: iL Divo

                Yes, an asian market, although whole foods will have konbu (for more $$$) otherwise the interwebs can help you out

                1. re: iL Divo

                  konbu is a japanese word for the kelp that is used in the broth. It's sold wrapped in plastic. They're usually about the dimensions of notebook paper, but thicker. The sheets are dark green with whitish dust on the outside, which is desireable.

                  Shaved bonito are flakes of preserved tuna. If you ever sharpened a pencil in a children's pencil sharpener, you might notice that pencil and bonito shavings look very similar. Sometimes you might see a very similar (same?) product being sold as cat treats.

                  Dashi is a broth most commonly made from these two ingredients, kelp and preserved tuna.

                  1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                    When you say preserved tuna, do you mean dried? Is it also salted or unsalted?

                    I ask because I frequently use Maldive fish flakes in Sri Lankan cooking. Maldive fish flakes is dried tuna, unsalted, then flaked.

                    1. re: LMAshton

                      I looked into it once, and I think the process is a bit involved. It's a multistage process and I do think there is some microbial action going on. It's dried fish, certainly, but it's not like jerky or salt cod so I figured describing it as "dried fish" might be more misleading than not when searching supermarket shelves.

                      I don't think salt is involved but my memory is a bit hazy about it. Also, it has a smoky flavor but it isn't smoked.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          Of note, I believe the traditional method also involved packing the fish in rice for a while to help select for the right microbes. According to wikipedia, it seems that step has been replaced with a spray down with mold culture. I don't know if it's still practiced in some cases or if it makes a significant difference.

                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                              Ah, how interesting. Okay, so not the same. Thanks. :)

                              I see from the wikipedia entry that it's sometimes sold as a block of fish that resembles wood. Maldive fish is also sold that way sometimes, too. My mother in law gets that, sometimes. I've only bought it flaked. Maldive fish has no smokey flavour.

                      1. re: iL Divo

                        there is a no cook method. It might be more approachable:

                        From http://justhungry.com/2003/11/japanes...

                        The cold-water method

                        When I’m pressed for time, I use the mizudashi method of making dashi. This is the method I’ve described for making vegetarian dashi, except that I add some bonito flakes. I put a piece of kombu seaweed and a big handful of bonito flakes in a jug of cold water, and let it steep for at least a few hours or overnight. To use the dashi I simply strain it out. The dashi keeps in the fridge for a few days, and if I don’t use it up during that time (which is rare) I just freeze it. Aside from having to remember to fill up a jug, this method couldn’t be easier.

                  2. One thing to remember is to never let the dashi or soup boil. If you do it loses flavor and makes it hard to integrate the miso.

                    Do you make the dashi with kombu and bonito?

                    1. As others have mentioned, that's just the way miso soup works.

                      An easy way I learned to add the miso is to put however much you want into a fine strainer, submerge the bottom of the strainer in the dashi (so the ball of miso is under the liquid), and then use a spoon to mix/integrate and force it through the strainer. This works really well every time and guarantees that you won't have any big chunks or issues incorporating the miso into the soup.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        Thanks for this info.
                        I'll try it next time.

                        1. re: Puffin3

                          If the miso doesn't settle a bit at the bottom of the bowl, I'd question if a restaurant i using some instant powdered product. I've made miso soup a few times at home and always thoroughly mix the miso with a small amount of the dashi broth in a small bowl before adding it to the pot of steaming, but not boiling dashi.

                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                            This may be a little 'inner-dashi' but that's what we're here for right? LOL
                            I find that making a 15 gram Konbu/15 gram bonito flakes to 1 litre of water to be problematic flavor-wise.
                            Here's why. When you put the Konbu in the cold water if you bring the water just up to the boil too fast the Konbu doesn't get a chance to release enough flavor/nutrients making the dashi a bit stronger flavored on the bonito side. So I would put the pot on medium and allow the temp to rise slowly thus giving the Konbu more soaking time.
                            Now I make a 30 gram Konbu/30 gram bonito flakes to 2 litres of water recipe. I still keep the heat down to slowly soak the Konbu until the water gets to a hard simmer.
                            After I take the pot off the heat and remove the Konbu I allow the water to sit for a couple of minutes then I pour in 1/2 C of ice cold water from the freezer to drop the temp before putting the pot on the stove and adding the bonito flakes. This time I turn the heat to high to bring the flakes to a hard simmer before straining through a coffee filter.
                            I'm looking for an even flavor balance between the Konbu and bonito flakes.
                            Hope this clarifies things.
                            The 2 litre recipe lasts about three to four days before we've used it up.
                            My wife always adds some to her fruit 'smoothy' each morning. There's no 'fishy' taste.
                            The process may sound a bit complicated but it's really very simple/easy once you've made dashi a few times.
                            Last night I made a duck stew using left over duck meat. When I made the roux I used a C of dashi and some Better Than Bouillon chicken base and boiling water. Excellent taste and no fishy flavor. Just a little 'umami' like you get by adding a t of anchovy paste.

                            1. re: Puffin3

                              When I make dashi I let the kombu soak for 30-45 minutes prior to applying any heat. Then I remove it just as the water starts to simmer. This seems to work pretty well.

                              My dashi definitely has a fishy taste if sampled plain, and I don't think that's a deficiency. It is, after all, made from fish. Added to other dishes I agree with you, it fades into the background and provides some smoke and umami. Definitely one of those "magical" ingredients that can elevate a dish.

                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                Watched a yt vid about making dashi. This guy cuts the konbu into slices then soaks them in the fridge for 24 hours. I used 30 grams of sliced konbu into 2 litres cold water. I didn't rinse the konbu. Next morning I heated it until just hard simmering. Removed the konbu. Added 1/2C of ice cold water. Dumped in 30 grams of bonito flakes, brought just to hard simmer and removed from heat. Waited a couple of minutes until the flakes sank to the bottom, strained through a coffee filter.
                                IMO this dashi is by far the very best I've ever made. You get more of the subtle konbu flavor which balances the bonito flavor more equally. This is THE way I'll make it in the future.
                                Former method of just soaking the konbu for 30 minutes etc I give a 5. This method of slicing the konbu to expose more surface, not rinsing off the minerals/salts then soaking in the fridge for 24 hours I give a 10!

                      2. I don't understand why people care if the miso clumps or separates or use sieves to mix it in. Can't you just mix it back with your spoon? What's wrong with eating a piece of soybean in a soup?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: joonjoon

                          Spoon? Who uses a spoon to eat (drink) misoshiru?

                        2. I think I read that overheating the miso will cause that? I admit, I use instant dashi granules for my soup (though I have some kombu and bonito waiting in the wings for when it runs out) ... so I nuke the dashi granules and water together in a bowl.. then put some miso in a ladle, dunk that into the dashi and use a fork to mix the miso with the dashi right in the ladle, dumping out the bits that dissolve into the bowl and refilling it with liquid until all the miso is mixed in. This is when I add my dehydrated seaweed and nuke for another 30 seconds just to reheat it and give the seaweed a chance to hydrate. Top with green onions and I've got dinner. Yup, I often drink a large bowl of the stuff for a meal.