Sunday, September 26, 2010

Japanese Clear Soup with Carrot and Daikon Flowers for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays (& Regional Recipes!)

This Clear Soup with Carrot and Daikon Flowers is from the book, "At the Japanese Table: New & Traditional Recipes" by Lesley Downer. Usually when I make Japanese soups, I go for the thicker, heavier ones, but this one was so pretty, I had to try it. Since Regional Recipes, the monthly event hosted by my good friend Joanne of Eats Well With Others, is focused on Japan this month, the timing was perfect.

About soups (shirumono), in Japan, the book says, "Soups are an essential part of the visual feast that is Japanese cooking. There are two main types, clear soups, which are served at the beginning of a meal, and thick soups, usually made with miso, served at the end." And, "The first course to appear in a grand banquet is clear soup (suimono), a miniature flower arrangement floating in a delicate translucent broth."

Downer says "This is a classic and beautiful clear soup, in which the elements--noodles, red and white "flowers" and a touch of brilliant green watercress--compliment each other in color, texture, and taste."

Clear Soup with Carrot and Daikon Flowers
"At the Japanese Table" by Lesley Downer
(Serves 4)

4 oz egg somen noodles
1 medium carrot, peeled
2-inch slice daikon radish, peeled
1 bunch watercress
5 cups Dashi--see recipe below
3-4 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sake
1 1/2 Tbsp mirin
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation: Noodles: Separate the noodles into 4 bunches and tie each bunch securely at the base with thread. To cook, bring plenty of water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan. Add the noodles, bring the water back to the boil, then top it up with 1/2 cup cold water. Repeat this procedure 2 or 3 times until the noodles are al dente. Rinse them in cold water, drain and set aside.

To make carrot and daikon flowers: cut the carrot into an even 3-inch cylinder. Make 5 symmetrical V-shaped cuts all the way down the cylinder and round them off to make a petal shape. Then cut off 1/2-inch slices of carrot to make flowers. If you like, you can pare away part of each petal to make a more realistic flower. Repeat with the daikon to make 4 daikon flowers. Then simmer the carrot and daikon flowers in water or dashi until tender; drain .

Watercress: Separate watercress into bunches of 4 or 5 stalks each; cut off the long, tough stems. Blanch them in rapidly boiling water for a few seconds until wilted, then drain and set aside.

To Cook: Bring the dashi just to the boil. Turn the heat to low and season with soy sauce, sake, mirin, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

To Serve: Warm 4 soup bowls, then arrange a bunch of noodles, a carrot flower, a daikon flower, and a bunch of watercress in each. Carefully ladle in enough hot dashi to fill the bowls 3/4 full and serve immediately.

Iciban Dashi (Dashi 1 or Light Dashi)
(Makes 5 Cups)

1 piece (4-6 inches) dried kombu, wiped
2-3 packets (0.175 oz each) dried bonito flakes

Put 5 cups cold water into a large saucepan, add the kombu and heat slowly, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Just before the water boils, remove the kombu. Raise the heat and just as the water starts to boil again, throw in the bonito flakes. Bring to a full boil, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and allow the flakes to settle. Strain gently through muslin (do not squeeze).

Notes/Results: This is a very delicate and tasty soup that makes a great starter or is perfect for when you want something really light but comforting. It seems like there are a lot of steps but they come together easily and fairly quickly. I made my dashi stock the day before and did everything else as I was waiting for the stock to reheat and the noodles to cook. My vegetable flower cutting skills will not win any awards--my cuts are too big and my only carrot in the drawer was small and "wonky" on one side, but it was fun to try and I think makes a pretty presentation. I would make this soup again, especially if cooking a Japanese meal (or grand banquet!) ;-)

Joanne will be rounding up all the Japanese dishes at the Regional Recipes site after the end of the month, so go by and take a look.

Let's visit the Souper Sunday Kitchen and see who is here this week.

Here with a hearty Crab & Corn Chowder is Lauren from Healthy. Delicious. who says, "Is there anything as comforting as a big bowl of nourishing soup after a long day? Not in my book! One of the first soups that I make every fall is crab and corn chowder. We look forward to it all summer! Sweet end-of-summer corn pairs perfectly with smokey poblano peppers and spicy Old Bay seasoning to make a deeply satisfying meal (especially when you serve it with cheddar & green onion biscuits)."

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes adapted the Barefoot Contessa's Mexican Chicken Soup to add to girlichef's Tortilla Soup challenge and says, "I don’t know what I like more, the soup, or the accompaniments. It’s really the perfect soup. Warm and flavorful, but then fresh and tasty with the cool avocado, sour cream, cheese and cilantro. The changes I made: used a leftover rotisserie chicken carcass – with the breast meat still attached, made the soup in a slow cooker, and added some fresh cilantro at the end with the avocado, sour cream, and cheese. I just love the pop of the fresh cilantro."

Reshmi from A Feast for the Eyes and Stomach is back this week with a filling, exotic Moroccan Meat Soup with Red Lentils and says, "A rich and healthy soup enriched with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, lentils and Meat. Its a complete meal in itself,very simple to prepare, and goes extremely well with a piece of bread or rice. I would say its a "must try" recipe for meat-lovers."

Joanne from Eats Well With Others, my not-so-crazy-about-soup friend, does like stews, like this gorgeous Homemade Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew. Joanne says, "Stews have a pretty high positive predictive value when it comes to diagnostic tools. They sit on the stove, simmering away. Perfuming your entire apartment with their luscious scent. And you sit at your desk, ostensibly studying but most probably watching Glee. Or the Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion. Depending on just how trashy you feel at the moment. Sniffing away. Your stomach growling with reckless abandon.You become inured to the smell after a while, your olfactory receptors adapting so that they don't get overly stimulated and burned out. But every once in a while they recharge. You get a whiff. And think. Damn that smells good."

Tanvi from Sinfully Spicy made this savory Mahi Mahi Soup and says, "A very simple recipe with day-to-day spices from the pantry but everything comes together very nicely and gives the soup a great taste. Pair up the fish with veggies of your choice and don’t forget a squirt of lemon coz lime juice brightens up the taste, especially of seafood.I recommend adding ginger because it adds up a lot of fresh & spicy flavor.I think that mahi mahi is a really good choice for this soup because of the moist flesh and the mild taste.However, go ahead and experiment with spices and fish varieties! It is incredibly easy to make, given how tasty the results are."

Reeni of Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice made this lovely and unique Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs: Fideos con Albondigas and says, "Whole chile peppers simmer away in a freshly pureed tomato broth to give this soup outrageous flavor. The vermicelli is also cooked right in this spicy sauce where it imbues itself right into the noodle. The meatballs are simply seasoned and simmered separately in water which later gets mixed into the tomato broth to finish the soup. You might think the meatballs would be the star of the show here. But truly the chile peppers fill that role. Without them this soup is nothing."

Heather of girlichef tried her hand at a Filipino classic dish, Kare Kare and says, "Back to the present my very own kitchen...the smells of friends home some twenty years ago...are bubbling away in the pot in front of me. Who would have thought that fermented shrimp, tail, peanut butter, vegetables, and stomach lining could all go into a pot together and come out with a taste so silky, deep, and delicious? Not me. Now I know different... Kare Kare is a traditional Filipino dish that is served on special occasions or for Sunday dinners. Although, I'm sure it's okay to eat it other days of the week."

Megha from Live to eat!!! made a healthy and colorful Moroccan Beet Appetizer Salad and says, "Moroccan salads play a big role in Moroccan cuisine, and most families serve them almost daily. Garden-fresh vegetables might be peeled and chopped before being tossed with a vinaigrette, or they might be cooked with spices and olive oil to make dip-like salads. Most salads can be refrigerated for 2-3 days."

Janet from The Taste Space has two salads to share this week. The first is this Almond Broccoli Crunch Salad, about which she says, "There are many recipes for broccoli salad. It is delicious. But I haven’t made it yet. I find I get turned off of recipes when I know exactly what goes inside. Bacon and mayo are delicious, but I just don’t cook with them that often. This is why I perked up when I saw a mayo- and bacon-less broccoli salad on 101 Cookbooks. There are many different crunchy aspects to the salad; tender-crisp broccoli, crisp apple pieces and toasted almonds. The magic ingredient was probably the crispy onion. They were crunchy and added a unique flavour."

Janet's second salad is this Apple, Pomegranate, and Arugula Salad with Apple Cider-Honey Vinaigrette, and she says, "This salad features a crisp, sliced apple, with crunchy toasted almonds and juicy pomegranate seeds over a bed of arugula. I used baby arugula which wasn’t that peppery, but arugula would work well with the sweet apple-laced vinaigrette. Another option I might entertain next time is a pomegranate vinaigrette with pomegranate molasses, but I liked the focus on apple."

Amritha from AK's Vegetarian Recipe World has a nutritious Sprouted Green Gram / Whole Moong Salad and says, "Its a great salad. I never thought sprouted green gram would taste so good. I get so excited when I see the sprouts from the green gram. It gives me a great satisfaction when we eat this salad. I feel as though we are having one bowl full of only fiber and nutrients. My mom sometimes would just pick hand full of fresh sprouted green grams and stuff it inside our mouth even before making the salad. That time though I ate it, I used to complain. But now I realize how good it is for our body."

Tigerfish from Tezcape- An Escape to Food used her leftover Japchae (Korean Sweet Potato Starch Noodle Salad) to fill tortillas for these Veggie Burrito Tortilla Wraped Japchae and says, "I did ask about Japchae leftovers the last time. Some of you were near spot-on, for example, on using the leftover as filling for spring roll. You are right on using it as filling - not spring roll but burrito. It is not salty. It does not feel heavy on the stomach. Makes you full, but a feel-great fullness. A perfect lunch on the go. A budget-friendly BYO lunch. A good-to-go kid's lunch box burrito."

A new friend and a new face to welcome to Souper Sundays is Erin from EKat's Kitchen with some hearty Portobella Black Bean "Salad" Sandwiches. Erin says, "Several years ago I saw a recipe somewhere for Bean and Portabella burgers. I couldn't find the recipe again, but knew that I wanted to make some today. I love mushrooms and I love black beans. Though what I ended up with wasn't burgers, I got some delicious sandwiches." (BTW: Erin has a fun Friday Potluck blog event at EKat's Kitchen that you should check out!) ;-) Welcome Erin!

So many terrific recipes again this week! Thanks to everyone who joined in and welcome to our newbie this week, Erin. If you have a soup, sandwich, or salad that you would like to share--just click on the Souper Sunday logo for all of the details.

Eat Local Challenge Update: As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am taking the Eat Local Hawaii Challenge this week from today until Saturday. Since today's soup was already made and consumed yesterday, I will start sharing my all-local food recaps and recipes tomorrow. I did get all stocked up with local ingredients at the farmers market, Kokua Market co-op and Whole Foods yesterday. Today's breakfast? A completely local smoothie with honeydew melon, GMO-free papaya, frozen apple bananas, Waimanalo honey, Naked Cow Dairy yogurt and some mint from my container herb garden. Delicious! Next up lunch/brunch which will involve eggs, Tuscan kale, herbs and Naked Cow Dairy butter and Hawaiian sea salt.

Enjoy your week!


  1. that daikon flower is nice, I've seen metal cutters here that are used for veggies.

  2. I think it's almost too pretty to eat, Deb!! Sounds like a wonderful broth, too. YUM! Thanks for the fabulous roundup =)

  3. I am in for more soups in fall and winter months now. Did you like the daikon soup? I like adding daikon to my soups. Very tasty.

  4. what a lovely round up Deb!
    I love clear soups..and the one with carrots is like two goodies in the same basket..yours is a new recipe fome to try.
    Thanks again for this wonderful event!

  5. Deb - I love your Japanese clear soup with those pretty flowers! It's such a fun and pretty recipe. I think your flowers look great, definitely much better than I could do. Loved your use of the word "wonky". I'm going to have to steal that word - LOL!

    Loved the roundup!

  6. looks absolutely beautiful, Deb! And tasty! Thanks for including me and I'm looking forward to more each week! I need to really step up my presentations and food photos!


  7. I love drinking soup, this looks very good.

  8. Kat--I thought about using a metal cookie cutter but decided to do it "old school" ;-)

    girlichef--mahalo! ;-)

    tigerfish--There was just the one piece in this soup--so not too much daikon flavor, but I enjoy daikon in some of my soups. ;-)

    Tanvi--thank you and thanks for joining in this week!

    Kim--thanks! You are welcome to use "wonky" whenever and wherever you want lol! ;-)

    Torview--thanks! Hope to have you back at an SS soon. ;-)

    Erin--Thanks for joining in! I personally find that it is hard to make black beans look really pretty lol! ;-)

    Jess--thank you--it is a simple tasty soup. ;-)

  9. Oh Deb your little carrot flowers are just the cutest! I love Japanese soups because they are so simple and yet always so tasty! This one looks delicious!

    Love this round which soup/salad to try first...

  10. What a beautiful soup, Deb. The Japanese, and you, are artists when it comes to food presentation. I love light, brothy soups and yours sounds perfect. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  11. Lovely soup. Wonky carrots are perfect for this, as they add to the Japanese character of the dish. ;)

    And a great round-up, as always.

  12. Lovely round-up, Deb. I am so jealous what local produce means for you.. :)

  13. What a wonderful soup. Looks perfect for a light yet fulfilling meal, especially if under the weather.

  14. Nothing like a soup that is as pretty as it is tasty! I just love all the colors in it. I've never seen a plain noodle look so beautiful. :) Great round up for this cool weather we have here!

  15. Your soup looks wonderful Deb! And so pretty! Thanks for another delicious round-up - and for including me.

  16. Beautiful presentation of the soup!


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