Hiyajiru (chilled miso soup) with cucumber ice cubes
I was pretty excited about chef Tim Anderson's new book Nanban anyway but when I saw that this recipe included cucumber ice cubes I was sold!
Perfect for slightly hotter weather than we're having right now but since it's National Cucumber Day today (yes, really!) I thought I'd post it anyway.
Tim writes: One of my all-time favorite dishes on a hot day. Some may find the idea of a cold miso and fish soup strange, but keep in mind all the cold miso and fish dishes found throughout Japan – this just takes those flavours and translates them into a refreshing liquid format. Usually this is served with a side of hot rice so diners can enjoy the contrasting temperatures. I use room temperature rice so everything stays nice and cold, but do whatever you prefer.
In Miyazaki this is dished up with a few ice cubes in it to keep it cold. I don’t really like this because as they melt, all they do is dilute the soup. To add flavour where it would otherwise be lost, I use cucumber-chilli ice cubes, which make the dish both lighter and more exciting as you get to the bottom of the bowl. This will make more ice cubes than you need, but they are fantastic in a Bloody Mary, or G&T.
Chilled miso soup
Yield: 4-6 servings
For the miso soup:
2 mackerel fillets or 4 sardine fillets (about 150g total), skinned and boned
15g toasted sesame seeds
40ml rice vinegar
340g firm silken tofu, pressed to extract moisture
20g beni shoga (red ginger), minced
4 leaves shiso or 8 leaves basil, cut into a chiffonade
For the cucumber-chilli ice cubes
juice of 1/2 lime
2 Thai green chillies
30ml rice vinegar
pinch of salt
To make the ice cubes, simply puree all the ingredients in a blender. Pass the purée through a fine sieve and transfer to an ice cube tray. Freeze until set.
For the miso soup: Season the fish with a little salt and grill until done – it should actually be a little overcooked so it’s quite dry. Purée this in a blender along with the miso, sesame seeds, vinegar, mirin, dashi, and 100g of the tofu until completely smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate for at least an hour to get it really nice and cold. (The mixture will separate as it chills. Not to worry – store it in a jar and give it a good shake to bring it back together before serving).
To serve: Cook the rice. Cut the remaining half of cucumber lengthwise, then shave it thinly – use a mandolin, if you have one. Salt the cucumber slices liberally and leave them to sit for 10 minutes, then squeeze out the liquid and give them a quick rinse under cold water. Cut the remaining tofu into small cubes.
Place a mound of tofu and cucumber slices in each bowl. Add a small spoonful of beni shoga on top, and then a pile of shiso chiffonade. Pour in the soup, stopping just before it reaches the top of the tofu and cucumbers. Add a few drops of sesame oil and the ice cubes. Serve rice on the side.
What to drink: Like many soups I'm not sure this needs any liquid accompaniment but a glass of chilled sake would work or a very dry white such as a muscadet.
© Nanban: Japanese Soul Food by Tim Anderson (Square Peg), photography by Paul Winch-Furness.
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