Kasujiru is typically eaten in the winter. The easy to make, thick soup is very hearty and warming, perfect for dinner on chilly winter nights. This version uses inexpensive shiozake (salted salmon) — another thing that is taken for granted year-round these days, but used to be considered a winter food. If you are worried about the alcohol content, note that most of it evaporates during the simmering process, and kids eat this happily all over Japan.
Shiozake fillets — 4 pieces
Sakekasu — 200 grams
Water — 800 ml
Dry konbu seaweed — 10-cm piece
Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) — 1 cup
Daikon radish — 2-cm-long piece
Carrot — 50-cm-long piece
Gobo (burdock root) 5-cm-long piece, scrubbed
Potatoes — 2 medium
Mitsuba (Japanese parsley) — 1 small bunch
Mild white miso — 1 tbsp
Scrape off any scales from the salmon skin with the blunt side of a kitchen knife or an old plastic credit card. Cut the salmon into bite-size chunks. You can remove the skin if you prefer.
If using pressed sakekasu, crumble it up into a bowl with your hands and add enough warm water (additional to the 800 ml) to soften. Set aside.
To make dashi stock, soak the konbu in 800 ml of water for 20 minutes. Bring to the boil, then add the katsuobushi and turn the heat off. Let it steep for a few minutes, then strain through a fine sieve or tea strainer. Return the strained dashi to a pan and heat up to a simmer. You can simplify this step by using instant dashi granules dissolved in water instead.
Heat up some more water in a separate pan, and blanch the mitsuba for a minute. Drain and run cold water over the mitsuba. Squeeze them out well and cut into pieces. Set aside.
Cut the daikon radish, carrot and burdock root into matchstick-size pieces. Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Simmer the vegetables in the dashi stock until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the salmon pieces and simmer gently for another 5 minutes.
Put a couple of ladles of the hot stock into the bowl that has the sakekasu. Add the miso, and stir until smooth. Add this mixture back into the pan, and heat until the soup is bubbling. Taste, and adjust the seasoning; if it’s not salty enough add a little soy sauce or salt, and if it’s too salty add plain water or dashi stock.
Ladle into four large bowls, and garnish with the mitsuba. Serve immediately.