"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Japanese Breakfast: Take Two

by Julie Tilsner on March 14, 2008

in Minor Miracles

GohanThings bubble up. I am often inert, but my subconscious is a force of nature. I’ll mull something over for a long time. Sometimes years. And then one day, BAM. I’ll take action.

And so it was with the Japanese Breakfast.

One of my very first BHC posts, indeed, the very inspiration for this blog, was an attempt to make myself a Japanese-style breakfast. This included miso soup, rice, nori, and grilled fish. It was a comedy of errors.

The original post, written, strangely enough, almost exactly two years ago, was titled: Japanese Breakfast, Take One.

A commentator recently asked if there was a Japanese Breakfast, Take Two. This morning, out of the blue, I tried a second take.

The results: Much happier than the first, thank you. Perfect? No.

Several differences came to the fore. Most importantly, I had the ingredients for real miso soup. I made my own dashi stock, to my giddy delight, last night.

Kombu – wiped and cut into four strips
4 cups water
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups bonito flakes

Boil the water with the kombu strips in it. Take them out just before it boils. Add the 1/2 cup of cold water and the bonito flakes and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. When the flakes fall to the bottom, strain into a glass jar and keep in the fridge for later use.

Dashi is clear and sunlit. Its aroma a deep brine. It is a scent of Japan.

Note, please, that you don’t need a daikon radish.

When you’re ready to make your miso soup, heat your dashi up. Take two to three tablespoons of miso paste (red or white…I’m not even sure what kind I have) and dissolve it in a dish with some of the heated dashi. Add this to the mix. Add whatever you want: Tofu cubes, shitake mushrooms, an egg (it’ll poach!)

Make your sushi rice. Scoop it into a decorative bowl. Add the poached egg on top if you so desire.

Cut your nori into pieces. If you’re lucky, it’ll be fresher than mine was.

Grill up some leftover salmon. Make green tea. Breathe it all in…


What I need for Japanese Breakfast,Take Three: Prettier bowls. Fresh nori. Luckily, I live in expensive, ridiculously-crowded L.A., where the giant Japanese supermarket Marukai sits beckoning, just up the 405.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

uberchik March 15, 2008 at 1:28 pm

I love Japanese anytime.
Chinese – Sianara!


Abigail March 15, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Wow, that looks delicious! I’m having a Japanese exchange student stay with my family in two weeks, and we’re all over the place as to what to feed her. Our only hope is to serve rice at every meal…
Good luck with more success! I love your blog, by the way (couldn’t resist shmoozing). Thanks for the reassurance, because I can hardly cook either.


BaddAss MisterJ March 18, 2008 at 12:34 am

“Shiro” Miso is white regular miso paste
“Aka” Miso is white miso that has been aged and looks reddish/brownish. It has a stronger flavor.
For miso soup you add white miso, then half the amount of red to bring out more of the flavor of the white.
Next time you hit Marukai/Mitsuwa/Ninjiya Japanese Markets, they sell in the frozen section “Half Dried” Fish: Makerel, Atka Makeral, Sawara, Salmon and others. . . All you do is thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, then ready to cook you place it over a heated charcoal grill/habachi or under the boiler. Once it starts bubling, flip it over till that part starts bubbling, then flip it again one last time till desired doneness (not burnt). You can also do this in a standard toaster oven also!
Also there, they sell roasted and seasoned nori strips just to eat w/ the rice and fish.
At your local major bookstore, they sell in the Asian Cookbook Section a series of books called “Quick & Easy” whire are really great cause they show tons of step by step colored pictures, so to inspire and lead you in the right direction.


sweetrosie March 23, 2008 at 11:14 pm

teehee – too funny 🙂
My daughter eats a lot of egg with rice and seaweed sprinkles. Sometimes she gets a little salmon, but it’s very pricey over here:0 Usually her egg is cooked like an omelette, only because she detests runny yolks.
Abigail mentioned seasoned seaweed in a comment and I have to agree, they’re great. They come in a shaker jar and it seems to be nori, sesame seeds, salt, maybe bonito, not sure, all the writing is in Japanese…
We’ve yet to grow fond of miso soup. But, we do keep trying.


Seraphine March 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm

I love almost anything Japanese, which is to say, Japanese-American. I like the emphasis on fresh vegetables (and yes, even the seaweed).
I make a simple breakfast, which I call “Japanese” which isn’t Japanese at all. I pile some rice on a plate, add some eggs and top it with hollandaise sauce. Even though my rice cooker usually burns the rice, it’s a simple meal to make.
I fashion it after a breakfast dish I saw served on Maui (Hawaii). They placed a broiled piece of fresh fish on top of the rice, then added eggs and sauce, in essence making a type of fish ‘eggs benedict’.
Since I’m vegetarian, I make it without the fish, although I suppose a veggie burger could be substituted.
It’s not Japanese, but I think it’s Japanese-influenced. Kind of.


Quon-chan March 25, 2008 at 1:56 am

Hurray for Take Two! So glad you decided to give it another try.
Your miso soup looks mighty tasty, and judging from the color you probably went with the shiro (white) miso. That part about the daikon cracked me up and sounded like something I might do, if not for my handy dandy cookbook.
Maybe we’ll bump carts next time at the Marukai. They’re having some awesome sales this week I can’t aford to miss. ^_^v


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