Monday, April 1, 2013

Japanese Translation Alphabet Miso Soup with Jujube and Chicken Wienies

A great miso soup creation for April Fools Day! 

     Never mind the table manners, it is okay to play with your food when alphabet soup is served!  Everybody likes to tinker around with the alphabet noodles, while sipping on this style of soup.  Spelling out funny messages with the noodles is part of the charm.  When I first thought about creating this new alphabet soup, a funny alphabet noodle message crossed my mind.  I posted a picture of this soup on a social network and people went nuts with laughter.  The word miso is perfect for spelling out funny messages! 
     I posted an old fashioned standard alphabet soup recipe and a fusion alphabet soup version in this food site a couple years ago.  While at the grocery store, I was thinking about making a new miso soup recipe, because I have not posted a miso soup recipe lately.  Then I saw a bag of alphabet noodles on the store shelf.  Miso alphabet soup sounded like a good idea, because people are bored with only having one choice of alphabet soup that comes in a can.  
     Wieners are big time popular in Japan and they are not always served like hot dogs on a bun.  Wieners are sliced and added to modern ramen and udon noodle bowls and sometimes they are served in Japanese hot pot recipes.  I had a package of small chicken hot dogs that I purchased for a children's meal platter, so going with the modern Japanese wiener food trend seemed like a winner.
     Iriko dashi is a ten minute dashi broth that is made with seaweed and sun dried anchovies.  Iriko translates to sun dried anchovy.  Sun dried anchovies have a nice savory umami flavor that is not salty or fishy tasting like cheap canned anchovies.  A few of the anchovies were used as a garnish for the soup presentation.  
     I have used wakame seaweed to make dashi broth in many past miso soup recipes, but sweet kombu seaweed seemed like a better choice for this recipe.  Kombu is traditional for dashi broths, because it mellows and sweetens the broth.  Kombu has a high natural monosodium glutamate content and it enhances the flavor of miso soup.
     Jujube also sweeten the soup.  Jujube are Korean red dates.  Dried jujube are as hard as a rock, but they do not take much time to reconstitute.  Pitted dried jujube are easy to work with.  If whole dried jujube are used, remove the seeds after they become reconstituted.  Dried jujube are available in asian markets.
     The problem with canned alphabet soup, is there rarely seems to be enough alphabet noodles to spell out a message.  Sometimes letters are missing or the letters are so badly damaged, that they cannot be deciphered.  This can be frustrating for an alphabet soup fanatic!  By making homemade alphabet soup, those problems can easily be solved.  If you notice in the pictures above, there are plenty of alphabet letters in the soup.  By only cooking the noodles till they become al dente, the letters are more resistant to damage and they are easier to read.  
     Yes, I am a Las Vegas chef and many Las Vegas chefs are considered to be eccentric, so creating this soup comes with the territory.  Hopefully this alphabet miso soup will become popular with more than just the hard core alphabet soup fans.  This soup is a prime example of cross cultural fusion cuisine gone wild.  
     Japanese language noodles were not available, so English letters had to do.  While chatting at the dinner table, be sure to move your lips out of sync with the words that you speak, just like in the old Japanese translation monster movies.  This Japanese translation movie angle could make the alphabet miso soup dining experience even more entertaining! 

     This recipe makes 1 large portion of soup! 

     Jujube Preparation:
     Place 3 Korean red dates in a small sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the dates with an extra 2" of water.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer till the jujube become soft.
     Remove the jujube from the pot and set them aside.
     Remove the seeds after the jujube cool, if the dates were not pitted.
     Iriko Kombu Dashi: 
     This recipe makes 1 portion of dashi!
     Boil 4 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.  (The liquid will reduce slightly when boiling and the noodles will soak up some of the liquid later in the recipe.  This is why the extra water is needed!)
     Add 1/4 cup of tiny sun dried anchovies.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped reconstituted kombu seaweed.  (Soak the kombu pieces in cold water for 10 minutes, so they become soft.)
     Boil the dashi broth for 10 minutes.  
     Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Save a few of the boiled tiny anchovies for garnishing the soup.  Set the anchovies aside.  
     Discard the the rest of the anchovies and seaweed or use them in another recipe.

     Japanese Translation Alphabet Miso Soup with Jujube and Chicken Wienies:
     Place the dashi broth sauce pot over medium/medium high heat. 
     Bring the broth to a gentle boil.
     Add about 1/3 cup of small alphabet soup noodles.
     Boil the noodles, till they start to become tender.  Stir occasionally, so the noodles do not stick to the pot.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Add 3 thin crinkle cut slices of carrot.
     Add 4 to 5 drops of thin soy sauce.
     Add 3 to 4 drops of sesame oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Simmer for 2 minutes.
     Add 2 tablespoons of red miso paste.
     Gently stir the miso paste into the broth.
     Add 1 small 2 ounce to 2 1/2 ounce chicken hot dog that is cut into thin bias slices.
     Add the reserved reconstituted jujube.
     Simmer the soup for one minute.
     Ladle the miso soup into a shallow wide rim soup bowl.  
     Try to mound the alphabet noodles on one side of the soup, like a beach.  
     Use tongs or chopsticks to arrange the ingredients in the bowl, so they look nice.  
     Try to expose some carrot slices and chicken wiener slices on top of the alphabet noodles.  
     Place the reserved tine anchovies on the soup, so they can be seen.
     Use kitchen shears to cut a few thin strips of roasted nori seaweed.
     Place the nori strips on the noodles.
     Garnish with an Italian parsley leaf.

     "A B C D E F G" etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Go ahead and spell out some fun!  Yum!  ...  Shawna  

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