My grandmother lived through World War Two, which saw Hong Kong endure years of Japanese occupation. By the end of the war in 1945 Hong Kong was a shadow of its former self – the population had halved and the economy shattered. When Lily told me of this time she muttered Japanese phrases with a fluency that surprised me. At that point in her life, she was a maid to a Dutch chocolate maker located in Hong Kong who had won a contract to supply chocolate to the Japanese soldiers. She and her employer family learnt Japanese and set sail for Japan where Lily cooked side by side the Japanese cooks and there in Tokyo they swapped recipes including the miso soup.
Today, in Hong Kong, the Japanese influences are apparent for all to see. The miso soup is synonymous with Japanese sushi and is a favourite for many in Hong Kong and all over the world. This soup tastes totally different from Chinese soups because the dashi stock is flavoured with dried fish making it aromatic and full of umami flavour. It is something that is a must with sushi or teriyaki dishes. Miso soup is created by adding miso paste to dashi stock. Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley, and/or soybeans with salt and the fungus kōjikin (麹菌). The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple.
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
800ml dashi stock
4 tablespoons white or red miso paste
75g silken tofu, cut into small cubes10g dried wakame seaweed 30g spring onions, choppedPour the dashi stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Place the miso paste in a bowl and add 2–3 tablespoons of the stock. Stir to dissolve the paste in the soup. Pour the mixture back into the pan of simmering soup.
Add the tofu and wakame seaweed and increase the heat for about 5 minutes, but do not bring to boil.
Sprinkle with chopped spring onion just before serving.
Dashi Stock – This is a lesser known stock which we call ‘sea stock’. The kelp tastes seaweed-like but stronger and the bonito flakes originate from the dried bonito fish. It is perfect to use in a miso soup with tofu. The ingredients won’t be readily available at mainstream supermarkets but the ingredients or ready-made dashi stock can be bought online or at a good Asian supermarket.
1 piece approximately 200g of kelp (kombu), washed thoroughly
20g dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
10g dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes or until reconstituted)
1 litre of water
Add the kelp, dried bonito flakes and reconstituted shiitake mushrooms to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a hard boil for 10 minutes
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Any leftover stock can be frozen in ice cube trays and used as and when needed.
To book a table at Sweet Mandarin email email@example.com . Our opening times are Tuesday – Sunday 5-10pm.
Sweet Mandarin is a Chinese Restaurant in Manchester which serves delicious Chinese cuisine and exotic cocktails. We make our own sweet chilli sauce, bbq sauce, sweet & sour sauce which you can buy from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, Booths, Wing Yip and Chi Yip. Sweet Mandarin Chinese Restaurant and Cookery Schoolcan cater for the gluten free, dairy free diners. We are a short 15 minute walk from the Manchester Arena. We are not based in Chinatown, but based in the trendy Northern Quarter near the Arndale Centre, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Debenhams and Primark. The nearest hotels to us are the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Premier Apartments, Blue Rainbow Aparthotels, Light Hotel and Hatters Hostel.