I think it’s true that we always crave the taste and smell of our childhood.
Growing up in a tiny village by the sea in Malaysia, the sea was my backyard. Most of my neighbors were fishermen or fishmongers or had some ties with the sea. My family spent many happy afternoons foraging for baby clams, periwinkle or whatever shellfish that was in season. Lately, at my home in Savannah, I often find myself making this seaweed soup just so my kitchen would smell like the ocean of my childhood.
Ocean in a Bowl- Seaweed Soup with Scallops
1 big generous handful of shaved katsuobushi (smoked dried bonito)
1 8×8 inch sheet of dry konbu seaweed*
1 small handful of dry wakame seaweed, cut into 1 inch*
8 dried shitake mushrooms
2 spring onions
Kosher salt and white pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoon mirin
1 small handful of fresh White Beech Mushrooms (optional)
2 cups prepared steamed rice (optional)
Rinse konbu and wakame under running water. Set aside. Soak dried shitake mushrooms in warm water for 15 minutes, drain, cut and remove the stem (you can slice the mushroom thinly if you prefer). Roughly chop white part of the spring onions for soup stock, finely chop the green part for garnish.
In a 3-quart soup pot over high heat, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Stir in katsuobushi and turn off heat. Let it steep for 10 minutes. Remove katsuobushi with a strainer squeezing the excess liquid from the katsuobushi back into the pot before discarding. Return liquid to a boil, add the konbu to the pot, turn off heat and let it steep for another 10 minutes. Remove konbu, it may be saved for later use in seaweed salad (stay tuned for recipe). Add shitake mushrooms, white beech mushrooms and white part of spring onion, simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Add wakame and simmer for another 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a sauté pan till hot. Add oil, sear scallop 2 minutes on each side until brown, drizzle with mirin half way through. Remove scallop from pan and set aside.
To Serve: Divide soup among 4 serving bowls. Add seared scallops to each bowl and garnish with green part of spring onion, serve hot. Serve with steamed rice on the side to add to the soup if desired.
Chia’s note: I sometimes like to switch out the scallop for squid or shrimp, or crack an egg to the soup at the end of cooking. The soup goes well with steam rice or soba noodles.
Txakoli (pronounce cha-co-LEE) is an awesome wine from northern coastal Spain, where the salt air actually infiltrates the grapes. It’s fantastic with shellfish in general, and this seaweed soup and scallops dish would make a fine friend of it as well. It’s like drinking the ocean, if the ocean were wine. And who hasn’t dreamed of that?
Libbie’s Food Styling Props: Shot on a cutting board burned over a fire. Bowls from Home Goods, Vintage glasses from Habersham Antiques Market, Fabric from Fabrika Fine Fabrics, Bamboo spoon from Libbie’s collection.