While we were in Kyoto a little over a week and a half ago, I bought a cookbook entitled The Enlightened Kitchen. The author and wife of a Buddhist monk, Mari Fuji, compiled recipes commonly found in temple cuisine. All of the dishes are made with simple Japanese ingredients. The recipes are accompanied by a glossary of terms in the back of the book which also helps to explain how to use and select the various ingredients.
Needless to say, I fell in love with this cookbook the second I saw it. I needed something to help me understand more about Japanese vegetables (there are so many I still do not recognize or understand how to prepare). The Enlightened Kitchen not only gave me useful information about Japanese ingredients, it also helped give me a new motivation to try cooking more Japanese-influenced food. I continually fall back on the foods I am comfortable with, which does not usually involve Japanese cuisine. Lately, I have fallen into a rut of using familiar ingredients rather than learning as much as I can about the regional foods (a much cheaper option than almost all of my typical go-to recipes).
It is interesting how the food I make gives away my emotional state. This may sound crazy to some of you…or maybe you can relate to it 100%. Anyway, living in an unfamiliar place (yes, it is still unfamiliar after 9 months) can take a toll. Occasionally, I wish I could drive over to my parents’ house for hamburgers and potato salad on the deck. I wish I didn’t have to deal with my crazy neighbor who says he can “hear me walk” (see Brad’s post on this for details). I wish I had an oven so I could make some chocolate chip cookies!
On the other hand, I get to travel to amazing places. Brad and I have had so much fun discovering little idiosyncricies about Japan. We love the school we are both working at. We have made wonderful friends. There is no shortage of excitement, happiness, and curiosity. Life is anything but boring. The fact is, we are blessed to have this experience and I am not taking it for granted. I am, however, saying that I have off days. As a result of those off days, I crave comfort food and things that remind me of home. Today might be one of those days. One of those days where a momentary feeling of homesickness takes over.
This brings me to my earlier comment when I said this new cookbook of mine gave me new inspiration. I needed some inspiration to get me out of my rut. And this is the recipe that did it: Edamame soup.
Simple. Healthy. Delicious. Cheap. All important factors. Above all, it made me remember why I love cooking. I’m always learning new things about food, technique, and even about myself. Alright, enough of that. On to the recipe!
Edamame Soup from The Enlightened Kitchen
10 1/2 ounces fresh or frozen edamame beans, in their pods
3 1/2 cups konbu stock (directions for this stock are below; I think you could use vegetable stock if you can’t find konbu)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 shiso leaves, finely shredded, optional (I did not use these…)
1. Boil the edamame in their pods in salted water for 10 minutes, then drain. Shell when cool, taking care to also remove the thin inner membrane.
2. Blend the edamame and konbu stock in a food processor until smooth.
3. Pour the mixture into a saucepan, add salt and soy sauce, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Pour the soup into individual serving bowls and garnish with shredded shiso leaves, if available.
Konbu Stock from The Enlightened Kitchen
(makes about 1 2/3 cup stock- you will need two batches for the edamame soup)
1 2/3 cup water
1 piece dried konbu, 4 inches square
1. The white powder on the surface of dried konbu adds to the flavor, so do not wash the konbu before use, simply lightly wipe with a damp cloth.
2. Place the water and the konbu in a saucepan, and leave to soak for 2 or 3 hours.
3. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Just before the water boils, remove the konbu.