Last night a bunch of hungry souls joined me at EN Japanese Brasserie to experience an amazing meal based on classic makanai, or staff meal, cooking. A highlight was Chef Abe's delicious butajiru, or traditional pork miso soup, the recipe of which he graciously shared with me, below. As Reika Yo, EN's owner, pointed out, butajiru is essential home cooking, a humble but hearty miso soup perfect for winter. No wonder it's a staple of staff meals, food for the restaurant's own family. This recipe, like most Japanese cooking, quite flexible. Omit ingredients, add more of something, or substitute, say, the sweet potato for regular potatoes. Abe-san cooks his soup with thinly sliced fresh pork belly, but you can use another cut of pork if you'd like. He also uses two kinds of miso, but you can use either/or, or buy prepared awase miso (mixed miso) at the Japanese market. Finally, I have some pictures to share of the event and the food, after the recipe. Enjoy!
1 tablespoon sesame oil
5 1/2 oz (about 150g) pork belly, thinly sliced
14 oz (400g) daikon, thinly sliced
7 oz (200g) carrot, thinly sliced
7 oz (200g) Japanese sweet potato (imo), thinly sliced
2 quarts (about 2 liters) dashi (make or use dashi packs)
5 1/2 oz (150g) burdock root, cut into shavings (like sharpening the end of a pencil, keep in water until using)
1 package (100g) konnyaku, cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 1/2 oz (130g) white savory miso (shiro miso)
1 1/2 oz (40 g) red savory miso (aka miso)
1/2 cup sliced scallions
Serves four: Add oil to a saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork, cooking and stirring until it turns white. Add the daikon, carrot, and sweet potato, cooking and stirring for about 1 minute. Add dashi and bring to a boil. Add the burdock, konnyaku and onion and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until cooked through. While the soup is cooking, mix together the two miso. When the ingredients are just cooked through, turn off the heat and dissolve the miso in the soup (see primer). Garnish with sliced scallions, and serve.