Waste Not is a collaboration with my friend, Carrie King. The premise is simple: Carrie, a food writer and editor, shares a recipe highlighting at least one particular way that we can curb food waste. I make it at home, take a bunch of pictures, and share it with everyone here.
I’ll try not to get too carried away with the October metaphors here, but suffice to say, it’s a season where it feels decidedly good to gather your coven. As the days shorten and the news only gets worse, I’ll happily sit over a bubbling cauldron and make an immune-boosting, nutrient-rich brew to help ward off October germs. This week, Carrie gives us the perfect rich broth for healing what ails you—matters of the heart or head or otherwise—and putting to good use all manner of food destined to be forgotten. For my part, I used up the last third of a block of tofu, the leftover tops from a bunch of beets, and two scallions that I’d nearly left to wither in the crisper.
Most of the time my cooking is driven by a “what do I have on hand” or “what’s in season” thought process. But, let’s face it, there are also the times where I’ve just got a craving and I go to great lengths to scratch that itch. More times than not, those cravings are feeling-related rather than flavor-related. Exhibit A, this nutritious, warm broth because what I crave most these days is comfort.
Lately I’ve been feeling a little bit like I need a hug, but like, constantly. In spite of best efforts, it’s been difficult to find calm in the midst of the nonstop barrage of distressing (to say the least) political, environmental, and just generally break-my-heart-with-disappointment, make-my-blood-boil-with-rage news (looking at you family separation at the border and the most recent slap in the face to women and assault survivors). It’s so constant and always mounting, it’s honestly hard to know at which issue to throw the small amount of energy I have leftover after making sure I am on point in the rest of my life (parenting, family, friends, work, chores, errands, etc). Then I feel like I am not doing enough, which is inevitably followed by guilt and feelings of inadequacy and anxiety that are counterproductive and that I have to talk myself out of. And thus, a vicious, unhealthy cycle.
It is clear that I’m not alone in these feelings, which is comforting in and of itself. But food can be healing, physically and mentally. We cook it to help cure a cold. We bring it to homes when people grieve. We gather around it to connect. And my hope is that with this humble broth, anyone else who feels the same as I do, can be rejuvenated, warmed up, fortified, and maybe even satisfied, even if only for a few moments.
Kombu is dried kelp, one of the many types of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine. Seaweed is a superfood, brimming over with flavor and good stuff. It’s also, when harvested correctly, a very sustainable source of very nutrient-dense food, which means we should maybe all get acquainted with it in our cooking if not already given the recently published climate change timeline. But, I digress. (Deep breaths. Serenity now, serenity now.)
Kombu is readily available and a pantry staple in my house. So are dried mushrooms of all sorts. Here I use shiitake to get the added glutamate richness (aka umami) that would normally come from bonito (or dried tuna flakes) in a traditional Japanese dashi. But, I went with shiitake to keep it veggie for my girl, Erin, and also because of their good-for-you, immune-boosting properties. I also loaded up on ginger and turmeric for added immunity and nutrient boosters.
Miso is also a staple in my fridge. Like the dried mushrooms and seaweed, it keeps for quite a while. This trio is fantastic to have on hand to make something out of nothing. They have really long shelf-lives and so I never waste them. In fact they are helpful in fighting food waste because they can be thrown together to help use up odd bits of leftover rice or tofu or greens that might otherwise head to compost, like beet, radish, or turnip greens. All big food waste offenders and all delicious when added to this broth.
Veggie dashi with ginger and turmeric
2 (4-6 inch) strips of kombu
2 quarts water
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
3-4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2-inches fresh turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced
Wipe down the kombu with a damp cloth.
In a medium pot or large saucepan, combine kombu and water and let soak 6-8 hours (or overnight).
After soaking- add mushrooms to pot and heat over medium until starting to simmer. Once it just starts to simmer, fish out kombu with tongs and discard.
Add ginger and turmeric and gently simmer for another 30 minutes.
Strain liquid over a large bowl or second pot using a fine-mesh sieve.
Discard ginger and turmeric solids, but reserve mushrooms for serving.
Miso broths are best when fresh, so if you don’t want to turn all of your dashi into a miso-enriched broth, at this stage you could set aside as much broth as you’d like to use immediately, and refrigerate or freeze the rest for future use. You could also just drink this warming broth alone without the miso addition. You could serve with the same suggested add-ins as below, or just sip plain.
For miso broth:
1 Tbsp miso paste per cup of dashi
Reserved reconstituted shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Leftover greens, like turnip, beet, or radish greens, chopped and stirred into warm broth
Leftover brown rice
Place miso paste in a heatproof bowl. Add hot dashi and combine with a fork or small whisk until completely dissolved.
Place sliced mushrooms back in prepared miso broth along with any other add-ins.
Use any miso paste you like or have on hand (red, white, yellow). I always make sure it’s non-GMO.
If using chopped greens as an add-in for the miso broth, stir it into the dashi before the miso step – so they soften. Then proceed with miso steps.
Miso soup is best when prepared fresh and not boiled as it can lose its nutritional efficacy when subject to high heat. This is why I suggest not turning all 2 quarts of dashi into miso broth unless you will eat it all immediately. Freezing and reheating isn’t ideal for miso.
Kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms are available at many grocery stores (like Whole Foods) and online. They can also be found at any Asian-specialty food markets.
Thanks to Carrie King for writing this post and developing the recipe. When Carrie’s not encouraging me in tiny-apartment cooking adventures, she’s a food writer and editor. Her cookbook work includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner….Life with Missy Robbins and The Chef Next Door with Amanda Freitag. She has contributed to Gather Journal and Life & Thyme and works as recipe editor at Marley Spoon and Dinnerly. Thanks to culinary school and lots of time spent in kitchens, both professional and home, she can cook just about anything, but usually just wants a
few couple few slices of pizza.
For the curious:
Our checked napkin is from Fog Linen.
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