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Miso Soup with Pork and Vegetables

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Serves: 4
200g/ 7 oz lean boneless pork
15cm / 6 in piece gobo or 1 parsnip
50g / 2 oz mooli (daikon)
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 konnyaku or 125g / 4 1/2 oz tofu
a little sesame oil, for stir-frying
600ml / 1 pint second dashi stock, or the same amount of water and 10ml / 2 tsp dashi-no-moto
70ml / 4 1/2 tbsp miso
2 spring onions, chopped
5ml / 1 tsp sesame seeds

Press the meat down on a chopping board using the palm of your hand and slice horizontally into very thin long strips, then cut the strips crossways into stamp-size pieces. Set the pork aside.

Peel the gobo, if using, with a potato peeler, then cut diagonally into 1cm / 1/4 in thick slices. Quickly plunge the slices into a bowl of cold water to stop them discolouring. If you are using parsnip, peel, cut it in half lengthways, then cut it into 1 cm / 1/2 in thick half shaped slices.

Peel and slice the mooli into 1.5cm / 2/3 in thick discs. Cut the discs into 1.5cm / 2/3 in cubes. Remove the shiitake stalks and cut the caps into quarters.

Place the konnyaku, if using, in a pan of boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain and cool. Cut in quarters lengthways, then crossways into 3mm / 1/8 in thick pieces.

Heat a little sesame oil in a heavy cast-iron or enamelled pan until purple smoke rises. Stir-fry the pork, then add the konnyaku or tofu and all the vegetables except for the spring onions. When the colour of the meat has changed, add the stock. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, and skim off the foam until the soup looks fairly clear. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Put the miso in a small bowl and mix with 60ml / 4 tbsp hot stock to make a smooth paste. Stir one-third of the miso into the soup, taste and add more if required. Add the spring onion and remove from the heat. Serve very hot in individual soup bowls, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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