I love noodle soups. Ramen, curry, pho, mien ga, laksa… I could go on. Savory broths with chewy noodles and fun toppings - I could wax poetic, but I will spare you. Focusing on eating a bit healthier, and wanting to feel virtuous about what was in my bowl, I decided to make a pretty dashi to have with zucchini noodles.
I have read that a lot of people prefer an instant dashi soup base, but I think this is a little silly as it isn’t that hard to make. Into a large stock pot go lots of bonito flakes, kombu, some dried shiitake mushrooms, and water. I add some slices of ginger and a large onion to my stock as well and then just let it barely bubble for an hour or so and then strain it carefully. I then taste it and season with fish sauce if needed.
Most recipes I have encountered use a meager amount of bonito flake to make their broth. I like to use a LOT of bonito flake. I want depth to my broth, so several packages (4 or 5) of the fish flakes go into the pot. I like the smaller sealed packets because I prefer this to a big open package of dried fish flakes hanging out in my pantry. Blocks of shrimp paste are bad enough, but that is a whole other story.
After your dashi is ready, you can use it however you see fit. I wanted to use it as a soup base for some vegetables and small steaks of cod that I found hiding in the bottom of the freezer. An addition of bit of wakame, sautéed mushrooms, and sautéed baby bok choy with the zucchini noodles made this a very veggie heavy healthy dish. Adding the quickly seared cod to the top with a sunny side egg gave me good protein; kimchi, sambal oelek - bright heat; garlic chives a savory onion-y accent. The hot stock softens the zucchini just enough to make them noodle-y but still have enough bite to give texture to the dish.
It’s easy to personalize stuff like this. You can use as much or as little of these accoutrements as you desire, or try completely different vegetables and/or proteins. Sweet potato noodles and tofu would be good substitutions. I use bases like this in conjunction with whatever I happen to have on hand in the refrigerator. Leftover stock (frozen or canned) makes it easy to pull together a quick meal during the week.
It’s light, but filling. Eat and feel healthy.