Jan 20, 2021

Miso Soup Using Homemade Fish and Kombu Stock (味噌汁)

Eating more fish instead of pork and beef has been the plan for my family over the past year. Usually I would get fish fillets or sashimi, since I'm no expert on picking out fish bones. However, I was gifted a big box of assorted seafood, among all the goodies, there's this pack of medium-sized whole fish.

Not quite know what to do about it, well, actually after consulting with my mom and a little research on the internet, the most common way is deep-frying the fish. I suppose eventually you can eat the whole fish after the scales and bones have been fried to its full crunchiness. Well, that's another problem, frying can be quite a hassle and I don't want to use up like two bottles of oil for one dish only.

How about making fish stock from scratch? I can utilize that stock as a base for miso soup 2.0 (I realized I published a 10-year-old miso soup recipe back in 2010). Sounds like a good idea, and I can still pick out the fish meat and re-adding that back to miso soup afterwards.

Miso soup using homemade fish and kombu stock (味噌汁) -

Ingredients (for a medium-sized pot)?

  • 8 medium-small whole fish
  • 2 strips kombu
  • 2.5 grams katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
  • 10 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons miso
  • 450 grams salmon fillet
  • 1 box silken tofu
  • 1 rectangular-shaped aburaage (油揚げ)
  • 1/2 cup wakame (dried seaweed)
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • Some Japanese tsuyu (optional)


Cut the salmon into strips or small bite size pieces. Open up the tofu box and precut the tofu into smaller cubes. Destem and chop the scallion.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then quickly cook the aburaage in boiling water. It should be fairly quick, 30 seconds will do. The purpose is to wash away extra oil from the aburaage. Once ready, pat dry and cut into shorter strips.

Use another pot, pour in about 10 cups of water. Add in whole fish then bring to a light boil. Keep it at a simmer for 30 minutes.

Switch to low heat, add in kombu and katsuobushi. Let them soak in this stock for about 15 minutes. You can also turn off the heat half way through. Once ready, drain the stock to remove the fish, kombu, and katsuobushi. Pour the clear stock to another pot, which will be the final pot to cook the miso soup.

If aiming for zero waste, try to pick out the fish meat and avoid any tiny bones. Transfer fish meat along with salmon and aburaage strips to the clear stock. Bring to a boil then keep it at a simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix in enough miso, a little bit at a time, till you get that miso soup flavor. Make sure the miso has been fully dissolved in stock. You can place the miso to a ladle and whisk till dissolved near the surface of the stock. Or you can place the miso to a bowl then pour in some stock, whisk till dissolved then transfer back to the main pot.

Depending on the miso, I used the yellow, pale brownish variety. If the soup still not salty enough in the end, you can add some Japanese tsuyu to kick up the saltiness level. Avoid the dark brown miso variety akamiso (赤味噌) for this recipe.

Drain out the liquid from the tofu box, gently pour the tofu to the miso soup. Also mix in some dried wakame. Wakame should quickly turn to soft and silky texture once in touch with hot soup. Taste and adjust with extra miso or tsuyu if needed.

Scoop the miso soup to serving bowls and garnish with chopped scallion.

You can enjoy the miso soup as it is. Per my case, I love to pour the hot soup over some cold rice as a light meal. Don't worry about any possible fishy scent for this seafood-based stock. I guess something has to do with miso, which might be able to suppress unpleasant scent if any. 

Anyways, I'm just happy that I made a good use of these fish in the end. All the fish flavors have been released to the stock. I've also managed to pick out as much fish meat as I can and added them back to miso soup. Zero waste, good job.

Other Asian soup recipes:

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