How to Make Your Own Dashi for Miso Soup

Do you remember the first time you ever flew on an airplane? The anticipation, the fear, the excitement. The thought of careening through the air at hundreds of miles an hour through the clouds and over the mountains. Passing over terrain you’ve never (and will never) set foot on. Flying (for those of us who only do it for special occasions) is a thrilling and memorable experience.

I was thirteen years old the first time I flew on an airplane and it was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. For one, my parents had sent my sister and I solo on our inaugural flight and we were a teenage mess. My sister was fifteen and she was put in charge of the both of us. She was to keep me in line, make sure we got where we needed to on our connections and so on.

I remember the first plane out of Campbell River, BC was very small and loud. It took off in the early evening, around 7pm. We were to fly from Campbell River to Vancouver and then from there, we would take a connection to Toronto, our final destination. It was a red eye. Thinking back now, it was quite a journey for a couple of kids, but we had our parents high expectations riding on our shoulders and we were determined to prove ourselves. The second plane that took us to Toronto was huge. The biggest plane I’d ever been on (natch, being my first air travel trip) and have ever been on. We were stuck in the middle aisle behind some large, loud males who kept their chairs perpetually reclined, if I remember correctly. This was before the little TV sets in the back of the chairs and we were forced to watch Gwenyth Paltrow’s painful rendition of a woman seeing multiple dimensions of herself in “Sliding Doors”…ugh.

About eleven hours after we started our journey, we made it to Toronto in the wee hours of the morning. We then had to take a cab from the busy Pearson International Terminal to the burbs of Hamilton. I think we arrived at my great Aunt Seenie’s house at 6am EST, 3am for us West coasters. We were dead dog tired, but were forced to stay awake and eat an enormous buffet of breakfast goodies cooked up by said aunt. My grandmother and my aunt chatted as we sleepily ate as much food as possible. Aunt Seenie is one of those old school food = love kind of people. The more you eat, the happier she’ll be.

The reason we were there in the first place was to attend a massive gathering of my mother’s side of the family. Hailing from Hamilton, my mother had not been back since but knew that her children needed to meet some of her far away relatives or risk never meeting them. My family couldn’t afford four tickets for us all to go, so instead, they selflessly sent us in their stead.

Most of the trip is a blur of food, humidity, heat, relatives, Niagara Falls, noisy parrots, drunk adults, second hand marijuana smoke, cousins, driving, touristy travels through hideous Hamilton and racial slurs about the neighbours.

The actual reunion remains one of the highlights of my early teenage years. As a budding gourmand, there was food to be drooled over. A whole corner of the field that was set up for the reunion was partitioned off for the redneck side of the family, who sat around in those old nylon lawn chairs surrounding a huge bbq pit that housed a massive whole pig which slowly turned all afternoon. The rednecks would baste it, drink beer, laugh, sit, smoke and baste some more. I don’t think they mingled much, but their pork was some of the best I’ve had in my life. Juicy, flavourful and with crackling that I’ve never been able to replicate. Them rednacks sure do know what they’re doing with a whole hog.

The trip was amazing and when the night before we were to fly home came to pass we were dead tired and retired to our steamy hot rooms for the night. At about 11pm the phone rang. My aunt woke us up, my grandmother scowling behind her. “What day does your ticket say on it?” She asked harshly. “Tomorrow morning?” We answered sheepishly. It was my mother on the line, she was at the airport in Campbell River and had just watched the flight we were supposed to be on unload without us. Suffice it to say, none of them were too happy with us. We checked our tickets. We had missed our flight by 24 hours. Oops.

My grandmother brought us to the airport the next day and bought us new tickets, which my mother had to repay her for.

I’ll never forget that trip. It taught us all some serious lessons about responsibility. We had fun, but we didn’t earn the respect we thought we would. Lesson learned.

It is from this trip that I now suffer a serious fear of missing my flights. I end up at the airport hours earlier than I need to be. International flight? Three hours early? How about five? Domestic flights? Most people probably arrive within an hour of their flight. Me? At least two and a half. You can never be too careful about these (expensive) things, you know?

I wanted to share that story with you because in exactly seven days I will be on a plane again for the first time in a couple of years. Adrian and I (sans kiddlywinks) are headed to sunny Santa Monica for the International Food Bloggers Conference. We couldn’t be more excited. Am I excited about the conference? Sure. I can’t wait to meet some of the people I’ve been interacting with online for over two years. Am I more than a little bit excited about being away with just my husband for four days in a hotel in California? Yeah. Natch.

The food, the beach, the people, the farmer’s markets. Four days will not nearly be enough time for this girl but it will be a welcome holiday from the day to drudgery that being a stay at home is sometimes. I am thisfaraway from going off the deep end. Working from home while maintaining a good balance of play/love/not yelling at the top of my lungs is tough work. Maybe the hardest job on the planet, though I think volcanologists may have something to say about that.

What does any of that have to do with Miso soup and making your own out of this world dashi broth to go with it?

Absodiddly.

I just made that up…word.

What this dashi broth does have going for it though is authenticity. Have you ever tried to make miso soup with chicken broth? It is not the same at all. For years I craved that smoky, umami filled flavour of a real bowl of miso soup, straight out of Japanese restaurant. I finally found it. Crawling through the stacked shelves of my local China Town, I finally found the ingredients I needed, though there was no English to be seen on the package. I figured it out and with a little tinkering, I have made the best stock ever. Not only is it ridiculously fast (15 minutes), but it tastes like the real thing. Because it IS the real thing!

Please. Go and make yourself a big, steaming bowl of miso soup right now. It’s cold out. It’s dark at 5pm. There’s no leaves left on the trees. This will warm you up from the inside out.

So tell me your story. What was the first flight you ever took? Where did you go? Where you terrified? Did you grip the arm rest until your knuckles turned white?

One year ago: Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies

Two years ago: Greek Lamb Burgers

Dashi (Japanese Broth)

Yield: 5 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

20 g Kombu (dried seaweed)
3/4 cup bonito flakes (dried and shaved fish)
5 cups water

1. Wipe seaweed with a damp cloth.
2. Fill pot with the water and set the seaweed in it. Soak for 10-15 minutes.
3. After the 10-15 minutes, set the heat to medium high and bring the water up to just a simmer.
4. When the water just starts to bubble, remove from the heat and dump in the bonito flakes. When the bonito sinks (after about 3-4 minutes), drain the stock through a cheesecloth lined mesh sieve into a container.
5. Cool immediately or use in my soba noodle miso soup recipe.

Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food bloggers:
Detox Salad with Miso-Ginger Dressing from Never Homemaker
Miso Teriyaki Pork Steamed Bun from  Kitchen Em
Agedashi Tofu from Use Real Butter
Zaru Soba from Just One Cookbook
Matsutake Mushroom Risotto from No Recipes

9 comments to How to Make Your Own Dashi for Miso Soup

  • Both the miso and the home-made broth look lovely. Your story was enchanting and funny and I enjoyed every bit of it.

    Have a safe and timely flight to your conference and enjoy meeting everyone but especially enjoy the time you and Adrian manage to squeeze in together..just the two of you :)

  • Sam H

    Remember to pack a jacket on your trip!! I live in SM and the weather has been really overcast and rainy the last few days :)

  • Oh my gosh. I died of laughter reading the “Sliding Glass Doors” part. I chopped all of my hair off in Jr. High so I could look like Gwen in that movie. Sadly, I just looked like a boy.

  • Mr. Guilty

    What a story. I dont think I have ever heard that one in such depth before. I loled. Seriously.

    Cant wait to go Elizabeth!

  • You have no idea how my terrified we were when we realized you weren’t on that flight, till we figured out where you were. I am glad that you enjoyed the rest and I certainly hope you have a GREAT time at the conference!

  • I really do not understand the dread that some people feel about reunions. I think these events are great. Everybody loves everybody! Hope you indeed had a great time. Thanks for the recipe. It is not too complicated after all.

  • !! This is amazing! I’ve been wanting to learn how to make a great miso. Thanks =)
    Vanessa recently posted..How To Make A Perfect Cup of CoffeeMy Profile

  • Vix

    I can’t believe it is so simple! Is that really all there is to it? I will have to seek out an Asian store so I can give it a whirl.

    I remember the first time I flew alone. I was given a ‘junior flyer’ badge and chauffered around. There was me and another girl and they sat us together and gave us special treatment. We played hide and seek with the attendants and I was amazed to discover that there was a small lift down to a staff room in the base of the plane. I have always looked out for evidence of one since and have never seen any … I have started to wonder whether my memory is playing tricks on me but I do remember it so vividly.

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