Chef Mark Allison's Column

Miso Soup

I love soup and so do my boys. This one is pretty easy and tastes wonderful. I first tried miso soup while on an amazing teaching opportunity in Singapore many years ago.
Where do travelers go to have good local food at a reasonable price in Singapore you may ask? That's the question I was asking myself on the flight there as I had already been told that Singapore was expensive.

The answer was quite simple - hawker centers, also known as food courts. At these down-to-earth culinary destinations, you can find a wide variety of local dishes, from Chicken Rice, Fried Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Bak Kut Teh, Satay, Laksa, Chilli Crab to the vegetarian Yong Tau Fu dish to miso soup.

Despite the cheap prices (from $2.50 to $5.00), the quality of food is amazing. Many food connoisseurs in Singapore frequent the best food courts in town for their favorite indulgence. Who can resist the lure of the delicious satay at Chomp Chomp Food Centre or the tasty (Michelin starred) chicken rice at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. With hundreds of food courts with thousands of food stalls in Singapore to choose from, you can have a fabulous meal at a very low price.

As an added bonus, you get to watch the chef make your dish. I watched my miso soup being made from scratch the night I ordered it. It was like watching an episode of Chopped - amazing! My version takes into account items you might have at home and what can be bought at your local food store or Asian market. Go on give it a try - its delicious.

Miso Soup

Serves 4

9 cups low sodium chicken stock
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tablespoons red miso
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon onion powder
8oz ground chicken (free range if possible)
8oz fresh egg noodles
2 cups baby spinach or 2 cups bean sprouts or better still one of each
½ cup cilantro picked cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, crushed (optional)

How to make:
Take a large sauce pan and add the first 7 ingredients to the pan, whisk and place the pan on the stove over a high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes, then strain the liquid. Pour the strained stock back into the pan and place back on the stove.
Add the ground chicken meat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the meat. Stir in the noodles and spinach and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Divide between four warm soup bowls and scatter over the cilantro leaves and peanuts.

Chef Mark .