Recipe: Natto-jiru

I went to Taipei for Chinese New Year this year and usually when I go there I like to bring back an array of snacks and goodies.  This time I picked up a few kitchen tools at Daiso (a Japanese $1 store), including a suribachi and surikogi (which are the Japanese version of a mortar and pestle.)  Initially I wanted a large version but having such small kitchen space I decided the small size would work just fine.  You may have seen or used a suribachi and surikogi at a Japanese restaurant that allowed you to grind fresh sesame seeds into a paste either for your dipping sauce for shabu shabu or for your salad dressing.  Suribachi’s differ from regular mortars in that they are made out of ceramic and contain small grooves and ridges that help with grinding or grating, and the surikogi is made of wood so that it keeps it from wearing down the grooves of the suribachi.

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To me, getting new kitchen tools is so exciting!  And since my husband was going to be away on business for a few days, it was perfect timing to test out my new toy on natto-jiru (or natto soup).  Natto is one of those things that my husband doesn’t like to eat but I find it oddly tasty so I can only experiment with it when he’s gone.

Here are the ingredients you need:

Start by making a dashi stock.  Instead of using kombu and bonito flakes or instant hondashi, I soaked some small dried sardines in water for about a half hour — another way of making dashi stock.

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Slice up some daikon, carrots and shitake mushrooms.

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Peel and slice some taro into large chunks.  Then take a sheet of frozen fried tofu and slice into half inch strips.

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Measure out about 2 tablespoons of miso and set it aside.

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The dashi stock should be about done soaking.  Pour it into a pot and bring it to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove and discard the sardines with a strainer.  Drop in all the vegetables and tofu and allow to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Ladle some dashi stock into the miso and dissolve the miso.  Pour the miso into the pot with the ingredients and stir.  Turn off the heat.

Here come the sticky-icky part.  Get the natto out and take out one package.  Remove any sauce packets that comes with it.  Grab the suribachi and surikogi and dump the natto into the mortar and grind it until it’s smooth.  It will become really sticky.  Add some soup to the natto and keep grinding until it’s a paste.  Add the natto paste to the pot and stir.  Heat up the soup again but don’t let it boil.  Then turn off the heat.

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Sprinkle in some green onions and it’s ready to serve!  This soup is really healthy and hearty for cool weather outside to help warm you up.

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Natto-jiru:

Recipe from Cooking with Dog.

Ingredients for Natto-jiru
(serves 2~3)

50g Natto (1.76 oz)
80g Daikon Radish (2.82 oz)
30g Carrot (1.06 oz)
100g Satoimo – Taro Potato (3.54 oz)
2 Shiitake Mushrooms
½ Aburaage – Deep-Fried Sliced Tofu
2 Spring Onion Leaves
2 tbsp Miso

– Dashi Stock –
500ml Water (2.11 us cup)
10g Niboshi – Dried Baby Sardines (0.353 oz)

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