I am very fortunate to have a great Japanese friend who has introduced me to Japanese cuisine and cooking. This explains why our girls often have sushi-style seaweed-wrapped rice balls for lunch, which usually intrigues the people around us when we’re out. It also means that Bento style lunches are becoming common place for my husband and I, and they are amazing! The latest addition to our Japanese repertoire is noodle soup, inspired by Miso soup, which I adapted to suit our girl’s dietary requirements.
This recipe is free from wheat, gluten, corn, cow’s milk, soya, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame and although there’s an egg in the picture it is easily omitted.
Firstly you need a stock. I make traditional Dashi (stock) using Kombu seaweed and Bonito flakes (dried fish flakes), both of which you can often buy from Chinese supermarkets although I bought mine online at Amazon!
For a great detailed description of how to make dashi you should head over to this page on Just Hungry, although I will summarise it here…
- Place 10-15 g of Kombu seaweed in 1 litre of water in a pan and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes. You can soak it overnight in the fridge if you want to do this in advance.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes then turn off the heat.
- Add around 15 g (one large handful) of bonito flakes and let the pan sit for 10 minutes until the bonito flakes have sunk to the bottom.
- Strain through a sieve and you should be left with a clear but slightly coloured stock, which tastes fresh and subtlety like the seaside rather than ‘fishy’!
I freeze the stock in 250 ml containers so this makes a batch of four stock pots.
I know this is a very particular stock and you may not want to source the ingredients without knowing first whether you or your family will like the end result. If you like the Nori seaweed used to wrap around sushi you are likely to enjoy this. I used to make this stock using Nori (don’t tell anyone Japanese) which is available in the world food isle of most supermarkets.
We make dashi because our girls can’t tolerate any stock we’ve found in the shops due to the added ingredients. If you don’t fancy a seaside tasting stock then this recipe works well with a homemade or shop bought meat stock, although you loose the Japanese inspired element of course. I have made a lovely hearty chicken noodle soup with homemade chicken stock plenty of times but it’s not as well received as its Japanese counterpart in our house.
Miso soup would then have Miso paste added to the dashi (around 1 tablespoon per 250 ml of stock). Miso is soy based, which we can’t use, but you can buy it in most supermarkets and it gives a lovely flavour. You need to make a paste with the Miso and a bit of the liquid before you add it otherwise it won’t dissolve into the dashi.
Next you need some stuff to put in your dashi to make up the soup…..
Noodles. You can buy rice noodles in most supermarkets, usually in the world food isle or the fresh produce section. We buy noodles which contain only rice and water or the Mama rice vermicelli noodles which also contain a bit of tapioca starch.
Meat. Strips of chicken or pork work well. I use frozen leftovers from a roast chicken or boil thin strips of pork or chicken in the stock as I make the soup. Tofu is a typical protein ingredient for Miso soup but this is made from soy, which is a common allergen so not suitable for many using this site.
Veg. You can add any you like. Potato, carrot cut into matchsticks, sliced mushroom, or spring onions would all go well.
Additionals. It is traditional to add Wakame seaweed, strips of Nori seaweed or even a boiled egg to the soup, all of which go down well with our girls.
All you need to do is heat around 250 ml dashi in a pan and add whatever ingredients you want. This will provide enough for one adult portion or two children’s portions. Add the meat first if you are cooking it from raw and boil until cooked. Add the noodles uncooked and cook them in the dashi according to the packet instructions. Veg such as carrot, potato or spring onions can be cooked in the dashi and add wakame seaweed at the end for a minute or two to rehydrate it. Once served you can place strips of nori seaweed or a hard boiled egg on top. It’s such a versatile dish that you can really add whatever you like.
There you have it, Japanese inspired noodle soup! The ‘take-home’ message from this post is that:
- noodle soup can be easily adapted to make a lovely hearty meal which accommodates even multiple dietary requirements.
- turning to other cultures can provide some great dietary options that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered (there’s a blog post on that topic to follow sometime soon).
Thank you to my Japanese friend and hope you all feel inspired to do some Japanese cooking! Let me know how you get on…..
This recipe has been added to the Free From Fridays recipe linky at Freefromfarmhouse.