At the start of the new school year, I thought about improving my home cooking skills with some simple tips. Simple but something which works!
Tip 1: Please cook the mushrooms slowly for 15 minutes on a low heat.
Tip 2: For a Japanese umami, garnish the soup with Kombu (or konbu) kelp strips.
Total cooking time: 5 minutes preparation and 25 minutes cooking
- 250g of brown mushrooms washed and sliced
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 clove of garlic (optional)
- 120ml of cream (double cream for richer soup)
- 50ml of dry white wine (optional)
- 25g of butter
- ¾ tablespoon of plain flour
- 475ml of vegetable or chicken stock
- Wash and slice the mushrooms. Chop up the onion and garlic (optional).
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the mushroom gently on a low heat for 15 minutes.
- Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Add the wine and boil quickly (optional.)
- Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Pour the stock into the saucepan. Cook on a moderate heat for 5 minutes.
- Stop cooking. Leave it to cool. Blend it roughly in a blender.
- Put the soup back in the saucepan and pour in the cream. Warm it up gently.
- Serve in a warmed soup bowl. Choose your garnish.
Here is another 'Japan Emporium' tip: To garnish, fresh thyme and an extra drop of cream would always work, but if you would like a Japanese twist, add a pinch of Fujicco kombu strips instead.
What is Kombu?
With the rising popularity of spirulina and chlorella, seaweed seems to be under the spotlight as a healthy ingredient. There is a book written by Japanese authors in Vegetables from the Sea to help you look and feel better (1983).
However, it is not new for the Japanese to consume seaweed. On the contrary, it has been an indispensable ingredient for Japanese cooking for a long time. Kombu (or konbu), edible kelp has been used most extensively in making dashi, the umami-packed Japanese soup stock. The high glutamate content presented in kombu makes it a sought-after natural flavour enhancer.
Fujicco is a well-known product of dark shredded kombu strips which are salted. It uses kelp selected from Hokkaido where the very best of seaweed are harvested.
Just a word of caution: While the benefits of seaweeds for our health are proved to be abundant, there are some potential concerns re consuming seaweed. Due to the high level of iodine, those with thyroid disease or susceptible to it should enjoy seaweed with caution. If you are advised to be on a low-sodium diet, you may be careful with certain types of seaweeds which may have higher level of sodium.