As promised, here’s the recipe for the Japanese country power breakfast I got out of this book, along with a few comments by me. Aren’t you lucky? (no)
½ cup hot cooked rice
4 large eggs
½ of a 3 x 5 block of atsu-age tofu (thick fried tofu) - note 1
12 grape or 8 cherry tomatoes
2 scallions, roots and tops cut off, with the white and green parts thinly sliced and kept separate from each other - note 2
1 cup mixed cooked vegetables - note 3
4 cups dashi - note 4
2 ½ tablespoons red or white miso (or a combination of both)
1. Place the eggs in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for seven minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon (note 5) and put them on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and quarter each egg.
2. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the tofu and gently boil over medium heat, turning occasionally, for one minute; drain (this will remove excess oil). Cut the tofu into small squares (about ¾ of an inch).
3. Lay out four small soup bowls. In each, arrange a portion of egg wedges, tofu squares, the white part of the sliced scallions, tomatoes, cooked vegetables, and cooked rice.
4. Place the dashi in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the miso and turn off the heat. (note 6) Ladle the hot miso broth over the ingredients in the bowls. Garnish each serving with the green part of the scallions.
Serves four. If you only want to create one serving, I recommend cutting it back to ¼ cup of rice, ¼ cup of vegetables, 1 egg, and 2 or 3 tomatoes. Make the full soup base (and add the full amount of tofu and scallions) and the unused portion will keep in the refrigerator for another meal.
1. You can leave this out altogether with no real impact on the dish, except that you’ll be losing some protein (but you still have the egg). Also, you can substitute this with thinly sliced potato. If you use the potato, add it to the soup base as soon as you put it on the stove for a little added cooking time. If you want to substitute regular tofu (use the firm) for the atsu-age, add it to the soup base just after whisking in the miso paste.
2. Although I’ve found it tastes better if you just add all of the scallions to the soup just after whisking in the miso paste. It takes a little of the bite out of them.
3. Peas, carrots, green beans, and corn are good for this.
4. I can provide the dashi recipe if you want it, but I haven’t made it myself because it’s time consuming, short-lived, and requires the use of cheesecloth. Instead, I recommend buying the miso paste that already has the dashi (fishy soup stock) mixed in with it and use four cups of water instead.
If you can’t find that, get the regular miso paste and a boxed product called hon dashi, which is powdered soup stock.
Add it (probably a teaspoon, although the directions will tell you how much) to four cups of water and use that in place of the dashi.
5. Or your hands if you’re as manly as me and don’t own a slotted spoon. Actually, I dump the hot water and run cold water over them until the outsides are cool enough to touch and peel. If you do it quickly, you can remove the shells before the inside of the egg reheats the outside. That way, the quartered egg bits are hotter when you add them to the mix.
6. I’ve heard the best way to do this, in order to preserve the flavor, is to bring the water just to boiling, remove from heat, and then whisk in the miso paste.
I further modified the recipe by leaving out the tomatoes, because I hate fecking tomatoes. Even the little grape tomatoes had too much tomatoey flavor for me. It makes the dish a little less pretty, but I like it better, and it’s still quite pretty with the white and yellow egg, green and white scallions, brown and white tofu, and green and orange peas and carrots mix I’ve been using.
For a little added spice, try sprinkling a little shichimi togarashi on the finished meal. A lot of English labels will call the stuff nanami togarashi, but it means the same thing – seven flavor pepper.
BTW, if you just want to make miso soup (which is even easier, but not as filling), the best recipe I’ve found is here. Even if you don’t want to make miso soup (fecking American rednecks) it’s worth visiting just for the cooking tips.