I was first introduced to this dish when my husband and I went on a trip to Japan. Before this trip my husband wasn’t much of a Japanese food eater this was 9 years ago, now we enjoy almost every week. We were also interested in the historic culture Japan so proudly exuded. The friendliness and politeness of the locals made our way around the predominantly non english speaking, ever so populated country much easier and enjoyable. Yet another reason we fell in love with Japan. The popularity of western food has become evident though with fast food chains opening up in many suburbs over the past 20 years of the major cities of Tokyo and Osaka. Full of the youngsters of the next generation eager to adapt to the western way of life, all awhile we go there for more of the authentic way of life.
During this trip we tried many firsts, raw sashimi, tea ceremony, charcoal bbq and this savoury dish Okonomiyaki. Which if you have never heard of it before is basically a savoury cabbage pancake with veggies. You can add your choice of cooked meat or seafood such as prawns, then top with kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise) Okonomiyaki bbq sauce, sesame seeds, green onions, shredded nori (seaweed) and pickled ginger.
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Japanese food has come a long way in western countries with Japanese, sushi and teppanyaki restaurants popping up in nearly every neighbourhood. With sushi readily available makes a quick grab and go lunch. Japanese ramen noodle bars are also becoming a popular pit stop for healthy lunches. Japanese food said to be one of the healthiest in the world along with their healthy lifestyle, no wonder we are finally catching on to their secrets of longevity.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans, is low in fat and carries a long list of health benefits including:
- Aiding of digestion
- Contains high levels of antioxidants
- Strengthens blood quality
- Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
- Strengthens immunity
- Is a complete protein
- Reduces the risks of some cancers such as breast, colon, prostate and lung
Miso soup is the most popular way in which it is used with miso paste as the main ingredient. You can buy white or red miso paste in your asian section of the supermarket. It is also very quick to make and versatile, adding which ever asian vegetables, noodles, meats, dumplings you like.
I’ve shared my favourite recipe with vegetable dumplings which can also be bought frozen in the supermarket or asian grocers. You can always make your own which I like to do sometimes but other times if I am in a hurry I have some stocked in the freezer for super quick dinners. We often eat Japanese food at home as the kids also love it. This healthy soup makes for a happy mum and family at meal time.
Miso Soup with Vegetable Dumplings
3 tbsp white miso paste
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1-2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1-2 fresh long chillis sliced (optional)
1 cup sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms or dried
500g frozen vegetable dumplings (you can use pork if you prefer)
1 large bunch of Bok Choy (chinese greens)
2 green onions sliced diagonally
Black sesame seeds to top
- Place water, miso paste, soy sauce, ginger, chilli (leaving some to garnish), mushrooms in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, then immediately turn to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 mins.
- Add dumplings and simmer for 5-6mins
- Add Bok choy cook for 2 mins
- Spoon into bowls, top with sliced green onions, extra chilli and sesame seeds
Note: You can add some chopped Nori (seaweed) sheets and cubed tofu into the miso soup in step 3.