Now that you have a big stash of delicious dashi in your fridge. Lets put it to use.
These are my favorite meatballs. How can I make such a bold statement? Well, these meatballs always bring up so many wonderful food memories. The smell of the delicious pork stock that would be bubbling away on the stove, while I helped my mom shape the meat mixture into fat yummy meatballs. Using a metal spoon and my left palm, I would gently roll each meatball and plop them into the stock. They were always slightly lopsided, but man were they tasty. Add a few handfuls of something green and we would have a delicious soup.
This is my take on the meatballs of my childhood. Instead of a pork stock, I am pairing them with the the subtle sweetness of kabocha squash and the gentle umami of the miso soup. This is comfort in a bowl. It will warm your belly and create utter contentment after a long day at work.
In these meatballs, the silken tofu is the herbed bread crumbs of an Italian meatball. It acts as the binding agent, as well as keeping the meat mixture unbelievably moist and tender. When you bite into these, your mouth will not be able to comprehend the melt-in-your-mouth quality of these babies.
Once you get the hang of making this dish, it really should be something that can be pulled together for a weekday dinner.
So what are you waiting for?
T O F U M E A T B A L L S I N M I S O S O U P
for the meatballs
1 1/2 inch nub ginger
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 case silken tofu, approximately 6oz
for the miso soup
1/2 of a medium kabocha squash (japanese pumpkin)*
salt and black pepper
4 large eggs
4 to 5 cups ichiban dashi stock
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
5-6 small purple potatoes, cut into large chunks**
1 tablespoon aka miso
1/2 tablespoon shiro miso
thinly sliced scallions for serving
Using a Japanese grater or a microplane zester, grate the ginger nub into a small bowl. Then cover it with about 2 tablespoons of hot water, set aside to steep.
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin off your squash and divide into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Do not cut too small or else they will not hold together well. Lay the squash on a large sheet pan, making sure not to overcrowd. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper and grapeseed oil. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, flipping halfway into the cooking time.
While the squash is cooking, make the meatball mixture. Combine the pork, salt, white pepper, egg, and scallions into a medium sized mixing bowl. Put the tofu into a separate bowl and use a fork to gently mash the tofu so that only a few small chunky pieces are left over. Add the tofu and the ginger along with its water into your meat mixture. Mix using a large spoon until thoroughly mixed. Your mixture should be mixed to the point where the meat fibers are no longer separated and pronounced.
Since we are making four poached eggs, we are going to make them ahead of time. Set a medium sized pot filled 3/4 of the way with water to boil. Now gently crack an egg into a small bowl. Using a large metal spoon, stir in one direction until you make a rapid whirlpool. Quickly but carefully slide the raw egg into the water. As the water continues to turn, most of the egg whites should stay together. Cook for 2-3 minutes for a runny yoke. Remove the egg using a slotted spoon and place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Do this for the other 3 eggs. Reheat the eggs in warm water before serving.
Using a medium pot, bring your dashi stock up to a boil. Add the shiitakes and potatoes, cook for 5-8 minutes over medium-high heat. Then, add your roasted squash. To form the meatballs, take a large metal spoon and scoop up about a tablespoon worth of meat. Wet your left hand so that the meat doesn’t stick. Using the metal spoon and a scooping motion, roll the meat into a ball. The meat should stick together easily. Don’t overwork. Gently place into the soup. Once all the meatballs are in the pot, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium high. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
While the meatballs are cooking, combine the two types of miso in a small bowl. Ladle some of the hot soup in. Use a spoon to work the miso into the liquid, making sure no clumps are left. Turn your stove off. At this point, I like to add about half of the miso liquid initially. Give it a taste. Add more of the miso little by little, until the flavor is perfect.
Serve immediately topped with a poached egg and scallions.
*butternut squash is a great substitute
**red potatoes also work well here