Mentsuyu (Japanese Noodle Soup Base)
I was so sad when I poured the rest of my Memmi Soup Base down the drain – there went all of that deliciousness, and I looked in vain for a recipe so I could make my own. Whenever I went into a store with a good cook book section, I would start pulling books off the shelves, looking for my recipe. I looked online. Surely people in Japan made their own sauce? If they did, they were not publishing the recipe in English. I looked for ten years.
So I cannot thank the Japanese woman at Just Hungry enough, for posting the recipe for making my own soup base. Her blog is a revelation if you are interested in Japanese food and cooking. She recommends using a particular kind of cooking saki, hon mirin, and having read a number of her posts about her native food, I didn’t even consider ignoring her advice. She also recommends using Japanese sugar, which had even the woman who managed the Asian section at Central Market stumped. But I’ll bet I could get it at Uwajimaya, and the next time I make this I’ll go there or order online. As it was, I was pressed for time and used her backup suggestion for sugar, which was the “superfine white sugar”. As for the “good quality dark soy sauce”, my guide at Central Market told me that the soy sauce that I always use, San-J Tamari, which you can get at Whole Foods, was the way to go.
For the three-ingredient recipe….
Recipe from Just Hungry:
4 1/4 cups (or 1 litre, the standard size for a soy sauce bottle) good quality dark soy sauce
3/4 cup / 180ml mirin (hon mirin, the kind with alcohol in it, is preferred)
3/4 cup / about 150g granulated or superfine white sugar (see notes)
Put the mirin in a pan and bring up to the boil; lower the heat and let simmer a bit to evaporate much of the alcohol content.
Add sugar and stir until melted. Add the soy sauce, and let it warm up slowly, stirring. It should never boil – once it starts barely bubbling, take it off the heat.
If any cloudy scum has accumulated on the top, skim off carefully. I t can be used right away, but is best when allowed to rest for at least a day.
Let cool and store in a glass or other non-reactive, airtight container in the refrigerator. (I keep it in preserving jars with screwtop lids.) It will keep for several months under refrigeration.
good quality dark soy sauce – San-J tamari is good
mirin (hon mirin, the kind with alcohol in it, is preferred)
granulated or superfine white sugar (see notes)
You may want to adjust the amount of sugar to your taste.
Honmirin (本みりん）is regular mirin, which is a fortified sake, with alcohol content. There is also mirin cho-miryo- or mirin flavoring, which is alcohol-free mirin. I mostly just buy and use hon mirin, especially since the better quality mirins only come as hon mirin.
If you are used to foods without a high sodium content, try using reduced sodium soy sauce. Since that is what I always use, I made a batch with regular tamari and a batch with half regular and half reduced sodium; there was very little difference and they were equally good. If you need to watch your sodium, you could experiment further.
Date: February 19, 2010