Somen Noodle Soup in Miso Broth with Seafood, Tofu, and Chives

Somen Noodle Soup in Miso Broth with Seafood, Tofu, and Chives
Last month, I started to use miso paste in my cooking and since then I can’t stop making miso soup! A few of my vegan friends also use miso paste as a new favorite ingredient in their salad dressings and for marinating vegetables and mushrooms for grilling.

This miso soup is slightly different from the one I made a month ago. I realized that miso paste is flavorful enough that there was no need for additional vegetables like celery and carrots. I just added soy sauce and enhanced the herbal flavor with some finely chopped chives, which have a delicious garlic-and-onion flavor. Chives is more flavorful than scallions, so use them sparingly.

I used seafood from a mixed seafood bag that I bought from Trader Joe’s — it has scallops, shrimp, and squid. The tofu was a good addition because of its soothing texture and it also goes well with the flavor of fermented beans. Even better, the seafood and tofu take about the same time to cook!

As I wrote in my earlier post, I used Cold Mountain red miso paste. I added about one tablespoon of miso paste per one cup of water. Since desired saltiness varies from person to person, I would suggest adding just a little miso paste and soy sauce at first, and adding to that as necessary. Additionally, feel free to try the soup with other vegetables and ingredients such as mushrooms, spinach, seaweed, sprouts, rice noodles, clear noodles, and scallions. 

I chose somen noodles because they’re so easy to cook. I didn’t have to soak them in water and they takes less time than pasta or rice noodles. Somen is usually used in noodle salads, but it brings a delicate touch to soup as well. Tip: don’t boil the somen noodles in the same pot as the soup broth because it will form a murky white color and starchy taste.

Keep in mind that this dish is a two-step process that should take you no more than 15 minutes. Make sure you set up the two pots of water at the same time, one for cooking the somen noodles and another for the soup broth. 

Makes 1 serving, takes 15 minutes
Ingredients:
~3 oz. somen noodles, cooked and drained 
~9 cups water 
~4 tablespoon red miso paste~ 2x2 inches of tofu, cut into small pieces 
~1 cup mixed seafood; defrosted and cleaned 
~2 tablespoon soy sauce 
~1/2 tablespoon chives, chopped finely 
~1/4 tablespoon dried crushed chili peppers 
~1 head bok choy, cleaned and cut into small pieces

Start by setting up two pots of water on the stove, one for cooking the somen noodles with about 5 cups of water and another with four cups of water for soup broth

In the pot for the noodles, add a pinch of salt and put the lid on to speed the boiling process. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add the noodles, and bring them to a low simmer immediately. *Always cook somen (and soba) noodles over low heat after you bring the water to a boil. Somen are best when  cooked  slowly for a tenderly firm texture. If you cook the somen noodle in boiling water throughout in the same way you prepare pasta, your somen will be overcooked, sticky, and starchy.* Stir the noodle constantly, making sure that they do not stick together or to the bottom of the pot. After the noodles are cooked (about 6 minutes) pour cool water into the pot, then drain and set aside in a nice serving bowl. 

Start the broth while waiting for the noodles to cook. Bring water to a boil and dissolve the miso paste and soy sauce. Add the tofu and seafood; then add bok choy. Taste and see if you need to add more miso paste or soy sauce. I found that just the soy sauce and miso paste did the job for me. Once everything is cooked, pour the broth on the somen noodles. Sprinkle some dried crushed chili peppers, and chives. Enjoy!

Miso Soup with Udon Noodle and Tofu

Miso Soup with Udon Noodle and Tofu

I made this soup yesterday for breakfast. I just arrived home in Berkeley, CA to visit friends and family, and there are two vegetarians in the house right now, so the fridge is full of vegetables and “vegetarian ingredients.” This miso soup is simpler than I thought it would be - that is, once I had the right kind of miso paste in hand. I used Cold Mountain red miso paste, which has the right kind of strong, savory and salty flavors I needed for this soup. I don’t know what makes this miso paste “red” or what the differences are between red and the other “colors.” To me, it seems like how some Thai curries are named by their colors, but Thai red and green curry taste very similar, while the Thai yellow curry is just something else.

This soup was quick and easy to make, and was a great light breakfast. It would also make a great appetizer or snack. I used one cup of water for each tablespoon of miso paste. I also added about half a tablespoon of dark soy sauce to each cup of water. I added some celery, scallions, and baby carrots based on what I found in the fridge. You can also add baby corns, spinach, peas, bok choy, mushrooms, or sprouts for a more balanced meal.  Poached eggs or thin slices of ham would be a great substitute for tofu or red meat.

Makes 1 Serving

Takes 10 Minutes


Ingredients:

1 (3.5oz) package pre-made Udon noodles

2 cups water

2 tablespoons red miso paste

1/3 cup tofu, diced

1 stalk scallions, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, diced

4 baby carrots, diced

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

a small pinch of (coarse sea) salt, if needed

a pinch of pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a small pot, combine water, celery, baby carrot, and a very small pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer; then dissolve the miso paste for about 1 minute. Add the Udon noodle and tofu. Bring them to boil one more time; the Udon noodle should be softened and the tofu should be fully cooked by this time — take an extra minute if you need to. Turn off the heat immediately after it boils. Pour the soup into a bowl. Add the remaining seasonings including scallions, soy sauce, and pepper flakes. Taste and fix the flavor to your liking.  

Cooking for Fun: Walk on Your Dinner: Homemade Udon Noodle

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