I’ve told you guys before about my tonjiru (豚汁) before, with big chunks of pork belly and vegetables, it’s more like a hearty pork and miso stew than a soup. This time, I wanted to show you a tonjiru (sometimes called “butajiru”) using thinly sliced pork, which makes it come together faster. I’ve also used a regional variety of miso to give it a rich and pleasantly sweet taste.
Saikyo Shiromiso (西京白味噌) is a specialty of Kyoto, and is what’s used to give Kyoto’s miso soup its unique flavor and texture. In Japan, this style of miso is often just referred to as “shiromiso”, which literally translates to white miso, but it’s important to note that this is not the same as “white miso” sold in the US. Miso marketed in the US as white miso is usually just awasé miso, which is a mixture of a variety of misos.
Saikyo shiromiso is a pale lemon yellow in hue, with a smooth creamy texture and mild sweet flavor. Because it’s made with twice the amount of rice koji and one third of the salt of other miso, it’s sweeter and far less salty than other kinds of miso. It’s also fermented for a much shorter time than regular miso before being strained, which gives it a delicate nutty flavor and rich texture.
For our Tonjiru, the low-sodium content means you can add significantly more miso to the soup, giving it a marvelously rich texture and full-bodied taste that’s almost like a New England-style clam chowder. Since spring seems to be taking it’s sweet time to arrive this year, this Tonjiru is exactly the kind of thing I’m craving on a cold drizzly day like today.
If you substitute in a different type of miso, be sure to cut the amount you add to the Tonjiru appropriately (I’d probably start with 1/4 cup and work my way up to 1/3 if that’s not enough).
- Heat a pot over medium-high heat until hot. add the oil and saute the onions, carrots, burdock and shirataki.
- Add the pork and stir-fry until until the pork is cooked through.
- Add the sake and bring to a boil. Cook until the vapors no longer smell like alcohol.
- Add the water and potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender (about 20 minutes).
- Turn down the heat and add the Saikyo miso, stirring well to ensure there are no clumps of miso left. Once the miso is added, do not let the soup boil or the miso will separate.
- Garnish the Tonjiru with scallions and serve with rice.
To prepare the burdock, fill a bowl with cold water and then add some lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid. Soaking the burdock in acidic water keeps it from oxidizing and turning brown. Peel the burdock, and rub some of the acidic water on the surface. Use a knife to shave thin strips of burdock into the acidified water, turning the burdock a quarter turn with each stroke as if you're sharpening a pencil with a knife. Let the burdock soak until you are ready to use it, and then drain and rinse it before using.