Out of the Comfort Zone: Miso

OK, it’s official. I don’t like miso soup. The photo above is not of miso soup. It a photo of something delicious. Unlike my miso soup.
I’ve been on such a great run of great recipes, so it felt fairly tragic to have a dinner turn out to be an abject disaster. (Jeff sweetly said it wasn’t that bad, although when he got home and asked “What’s for dinner?” and I said “Miso soup,” he did look at me with horrified disbelief.)
I had such high hopes for this experiment. I took what I perceived to be the best of two Mark Bittman recipes, one which called for using the traditional base of a dashi broth made with bonito (tuna) flakes. The other called for bok choi cut into ribbons, soba noodles, and a sprinkling of chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds. I decided to add the optional pre-soaked hijiki seaweed, too. And some sliced leftover steak (that, we did eat).
The result was not good. To our tastebuds, it was a weird combination of too bland and yet too fishy (from the dashi). I might put miso paste in a soup again (since it’s very nutritious), but I’ll start with a chicken broth base and build more flavor into it. I’ll probably experiment with miso-based salad dressings, too, since I have a tub of the stuff to use up.
Jeff admitted that he has had miso soup more than once in sushi restaurants, and never liked it. At least our tastebuds are on the same page. And at least I tried something new. Yay, me!
But don’t cry for me, Argentina…the evening was not all lost. You see, I had the tastiest of tasty leftovers in the fridge. What was it, you ask? It was the best egg salad in the world. I made it for Sunday lunch, and served it on hearty slices of toasted multi-grain artisan bread from a local bakery. Rumor had it that this salad would taste even better the next day. The rumor did not lie. I had some for lunch today alongside leftover zucchini-fennel salad from Super Natural Every Day. It was freakishly good! The only thing that stopped me from going back into the kitchen and polishing off ALL of that egg salad was A) it was really rich and B) I wanted to have some for lunch the next day!
But alas, it became an emergency dinner, served on whole grain crackers. Deliciously. I also made a simple little dessert, the lightly sweet, custardy Far Breton aux Pruneaux. (Yes, that’s it pictured above.) So an evening that started on the wrong foot ended up just right.
To do the recipes justice, I’m not going to reprint them here. Molly Wizenberg’s description of making the Russian Egg and Mushroom Salad is too delightful (plus she gives its provenance). And Jamie Schler’s article about the place for simple, traditional desserts (like the Far Breton) in a world of ever-changing food trends is well worth a read.
I plan to scratch another food off my “out of my comfort zone” list tonight. Jeff, if you’re reading this…don’t be scared.