The Kitchn’s Cooking School
Lesson 15: Boil & Simmer
Much has been said lately about the joy and benefits of cooking for others. I have hosted and cooked for a friend and written about the joy of it on this blog. And I have long loved cooking with others. But I still largely cook for myself by myself.
So from time to time, I use solo cooking as a rehearsal for future visits and meals to be shared. Being an imaginative home cook doesn’t have to only be about whipping up a restaurant-level meal. For me, it can mean cooking for the loved one who is now absent, whose arrival on your doorstep has no fixed date but can be counted upon. Imagining their presence in your home breathes energy and life into a task that at times feel humdrum.
And that’s what I made cooking miso soup all about. I’m sure some home cooks have their own systems for organizing their go-to recipes and recipes they want to try. I put sticky colored tabs in my cookbooks. And then there are my hand-written lists. If you have a loved one who’s a picky eater, I strongly recommend you do this. I keep a list of food my boyfriend Sascha doesn’t like. But there’s another: a list of dishes I want to learn to make for him. Miso soup is one of them.
For a long time, I saw miso soup as a negligible complimentary side dish you get when you go to a Japanese restaurant. Most of the time, it’s overly salty and comes with a few tiny cubes of tofu. But Sascha loves it. I think that’s mainly because he’s only been to very good Japanese restaurants. Unlike me, he’d rather go hungry than pop into a mediocre restaurant to subdue his hunger. And yes, a number of good upscale Japanese restaurants in Bangkok do serve delicious miso soup.
What I love about this recipe by Faith Durand is that it turns the soup into a whole meal, a light and cozy one, by adding rice and a poached egg. Plus, there’s more tofu than in restaurants. I didn’t add any condiments at the end as suggested in the recipe though, and it still tasted good. You know how sometimes you just long for muted flavors?
I had it for lunch yesterday and breakfast this morning.
Soon enough, I’ll make it again and share it with someone.
Dinner always tastes better when you know someone else prepared it for you.
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