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Atsushi's Class and Miso Soup

Atsushi's Class and Miso Soup

Atsushi Nakahigashi, a talented chef at the two-star Michelin Kajitsu in New York, shares his recipe for miso soup with saikyo miso, showcasing the endless variation and subtlety of Japanese cuisine. This recipe includes the use of dashi, sautéed broccolini, and toasted mochi. Learn to make this simple, delicious, and beautiful dish.

If you've been following this blog for a while, you may remember my pal Atsushi Nakahigashi, who I wrote about back in '08, when we cooked together during his visit to New York. At the time, Atsushi was pursuing his twin passions, cooking and competing as a professional bass fisherman. Now, at age 25, Atsushi has hung up his rod and moved to New York to cook full time at the two-star Michelin Kajitsu, which specializes in shojin vegetarian cuisine. Fishing's loss, our gain (actually, the bass are probably celebrating, too). Although he's still a young guy, Atsushi's been cooking seriously since age fourteen. He's an astonishingly talented chef; I love his sensibility with food, at once simple, understated and refined. It's always a pleasure to hang out in the kitchen with Atsushi and watch him in action -- and you can see what I mean for yourself on May 16th, when Atsushi will teach a Japanese breakfast class at the Brooklyn Kitchen. It's going to be an amazing evening. I hope you can make it.

Atsushi and I got together recently to cook through his dishes for the class. I want to share one of them with you now -- sorry Atsushi, I couldn't resist! It's miso soup, which seems simple enough, but even with something as basic as miso soup, there's room for endless variation and subtlety, the delightful hallmark of Japanese cuisine. Here Atsushi uses signature miso of his hometown of Kyoto, called saikyo miso. Saikyo is lightly fermented, which makes it delicately sweet rather than powerfully savory. He balances this miso with a pair of contrasting ingredients, pillowy, toasted mochi and crunchy, sautéed broccolini spears. So with just three elements, he creates a play of tastes and textures and, as you can see in the photo above, an elegant presentation. Simple, delicious and beautiful -- go Atushi! Here's the recipe, for four:

3 cups dashi
7 tablespoons saikyo miso
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 ounces broccolini florets, cut into bite-size pieces (broccoli also good)
2 mochi, cut in half
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring the dashi to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting.

2. While the dashi is over the heat, dissolve the miso in it by using a spoon to mix the miso in strainer submerged in the liquid

3. Add the oil to a skillet and place over high heat. When the oil is hot, quickly sauté and mix the broccoli florets for about 30 seconds, until they turn bright green. Add the black pepper. Turn off the heat and transfer the florets to a plate.

4. Place the mochi on aluminum foil on a rack in a toaster oven. Toast until the mochi expand and turn light brown on top, about 2 minutes.

5. To assemble, pour the soup in a bowl, add a toasted mochi, and top with sautéed broccoli spears

(Click here to read more about miso soup...)