Pork Miso Soup

Pork Miso Soup

Experience an amazing meal based on classic makanai, or staff meal, cooking at EN Japanese Brasserie with a recipe for traditional pork miso soup, also known as butajiru. This humble but hearty miso soup is perfect for winter and can be customized with various ingredients. Learn how to make this flexible Japanese dish and get a glimpse of the event and the food through shared pictures.

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 a Japanese market.

Pork and Vegetable Miso Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 5 1/2 oz pork belly, thinly sliced
  • 14 oz daikon, thinly sliced
  • 7 oz carrot, thinly sliced
  • 7 oz Japanese sweet potato (imo), thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts dashi
  • 5 1/2 oz burdock root, cut into shavings
  • 1 package (100g) konnyaku, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 1/2 oz white savory miso (shiro miso)
  • 1 1/2 oz red savory miso (aka miso)
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions

Instructions:

  1. Cook Pork: In a saucepan over medium heat, add sesame oil. Once hot, add the pork belly slices. Cook and stir until the pork turns white.
  2. Add Vegetables: Incorporate the daikon, carrot, and sweet potato. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add Dashi: Pour in the dashi and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Simmer with Additional Ingredients: Add the burdock root, konnyaku, and onion to the saucepan. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until everything is cooked through.
  5. Prepare Miso Mixture: While the soup cooks, mix together the white and red miso in a separate bowl.
  6. Combine Miso with Soup: Once the ingredients are cooked, turn off the heat. Dissolve the mixed miso into the soup, ensuring it's fully integrated.
  7. Garnish and Serve: Garnish the soup with sliced scallions before serving.

Techniques and Their Purposes:

  • Sautéing Pork in Sesame Oil: Adds depth and richness to the soup, infusing it with the savory flavor of pork and the nutty aroma of sesame oil.
  • Simmering Vegetables and Dashi: This step allows the vegetables to absorb the umami from the dashi, enriching their flavors.
  • Shaving Burdock Root: The technique of cutting burdock root into shavings increases its surface area, allowing it to better absorb the flavors of the soup.
  • Mixing Two Types of Miso: Combining white and red miso balances the soup's flavor, adding both sweetness and depth.
  • Dissolving Miso Off Heat: Prevents the miso from boiling, which can destroy some of its nuanced flavors and beneficial enzymes.