dashi broth, red chard, tofu, and udon noodles

From 2011-03-24 – 2011-04-04 march 2011

After watching Top Chef a couple of seasons ago, I noticed that Michael Voltaggio made dashi broth for a bunch of his dishes, and I never really knew what it was. Part of the fun of cooking new stuff is going out of our comfort zone, and this is no exception. And the reward is substantial.

Dashi broth or stock is based on konbu (or kombu) which is edible kelp. Several versions exist, and may include shiitake mushrooms, bonito flakes, or pieces of sardines. To maintain the vegetarian aspect, we used fresh-ish shiitake mushrooms cut into a fine dice and one ounce of konbu for about 4-6 quarts of stock.

From 2011-03-24 – 2011-04-04 march 2011

Like all veggie stock, it really only needs about an hour to release what it has, any simmering after that, and the vegetable pieces will soak up too much of the good stuff. Strain out what you’re left with and discard. If you use dried shiitake, you can pulse it in the food processor into fine pieces prior to placing the konbu broth, just be sure to strain.

Take red chard about 6 large leaves with the stems cut out and reserved. Cut into thin strips, and dice the stems. Add a large handful of fresh mushrooms, in my case we used half of the shiitake for the broth and the other half for the final soup. Add a good handful of wide rice noodles (I used udon, but papardelle or fetuccini would probably work) followed by the chard. Taste for salinity, and add soft tofu. Garnish with kimchee for service. Finish with lemon juice to add a kick of acidity.

This is a modification of David Chang’s version that published in Food and Wine during his vegetarian sabbatical in a Korean monastery. Seriously, who has time for that? He makes his own noodles and doesn’t add the tofu. After making this, I agree that either tofu or noodles, but not both.

The dashi broth is great, though, and has a ton of applications, particularly to seafood. If you want to know what umami tastes like, make this.

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