It was already starting to feel like spring a week ago, then, after a few days of rain, back came the biting cold of winter. I decided to cook this simple Okinawan dish I learned from my grandmother. Sipping the hot soup served with hot white rice is just perfect to counter the freezing temperatures.
I am 3rd generation Japanese, meaning, I have a grandparent who is full-blooded Japanese, which is my grandmother–maternal side–from Okinawa, southernmost Islands of Japan. She and my Filipino grandfather met and had four of their children (including my mom) born there before they relocated to the Philippines…She lived until the age of 72 before leukemia took her away from us in 2004. I have such fond and amusing memories about her like when she would always say with pride, “Piripino ako, hindi ako Hapong!/I am a Filipino not a Japanese!”; how she would try so hard to pronounce the letter L (because there is no “L” in Japanese) and end up replacing every R sounds in the words with it like my name, “Mylaling!” and, yes, pronounce every word ending with the N sound with “NG”…but my fondest memory of her is when she’s at work in the kitchen, during which, as a child, I would always watch her. Over the course of years as I became a teen-ager I would participate in her chore by helping in chopping ingredients, grinding the toasted rice for kare-kare, and eventually progressing to starting the cooking for her by sauteeing the ginger, garlic, onions, pork, shrimps, etc. after which she takes charge…It was from her that I learned the basics of cooking.
She would always cook Okinawan dishes for us in the Philippines whenever she would have ingredients on-hand. One particular dish that we love and has become our comfort food on rainy and cold winter days is “soki jiru” or pork spareribs and konbu miso soup. It combines two ingredients particularly Okinawan–konbu and pork. Most mainland Japanese don’t eat konbu, only using its stock as flavoring for soup. In Okinawa this is somewhat a staple, including pork, and Soki jiru pleasantly combines the flavors of these marine and animal produce.
The ingredients for this dish are:
•500 grams pork spare ribs cut around 6-8 cms
•a pack of dried konbu, soaked in water and tied in knots
•1/2 daikon sliced
•awase miso paste
•1-2 liters of water to boil the pork and konbu in
I did not include exact measurements for the other ingredients because I myself do not measure them, just adding more until I achieve the desired taste. It’s actually just like cooking ordinary miso jiru.
In a large pot,boil the pork and konbu for 30-45 minutes or until they are tender (you can use a pressure cooker to hasten this step). I don’t know why konbu are tied in knots but, from experience, it can be very difficult to pick them up with chopsticks once they’re cooked because they are flat and slippery, yet, If they are formed in knots, they can be handled with chopsticks easier. Next, drop the carrots and daikon into the pot to boil until tender (around 10 minutes). Then add the dashi and awase miso. Let simmer for a few seconds and it’s done…Serve with shiro gohan/white rice.
|konbu tied in knots|
|carrots and daikon sliced|
|soki jiru with rice|