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Pea soup with shrimp balls

Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Pea soup with shrimp balls

Dashi stock

1

Wipe the surface of the kombu with a moist towel to clean.

2

In a medium saucepan, combine the kombu with 7 3/4 cups water and over very low heat, allow the kombu to soften as it soaks in the water. Slowly raise the temperature of the water over medium heat so a thermometer inserted reads 140 degrees. Maintain the temperature for one hour. While the kombu is steeping, place the bonito flakes in a medium-size bowl.

3

Remove the kombu from the broth, increase the heat to medium-high until a thermometer reads 176 degrees. Turn off the heat and immediately pour the broth over the bonito flakes into the bowl.

4

Let the bonito flakes sit in the broth, thoroughly soaked, for 10 seconds. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh strainer. Let the liquid drain naturally, without pressing down on the solids. Discard the solids and store the dashi in the refrigerator for up to one week. Makes about 5 cups dashi stock.

Shrimp balls

1

In a small bowl, combine light soy sauce, mirin and egg white. Set aside.

2

Chop two-thirds of the shrimp into half-inch pieces. Coat with the regular soy sauce. Set aside.

3

In a food processor, combine the remaining shrimp, chopped fish fillet, grated yam, kombu dashi and dissolved kuzu with the egg white mixture. Pulse to puree.

4

In a medium bowl, combine the ground shrimp mixture with the chopped shrimp. Shape into six equal balls and sprinkle with black sesame seeds evenly just over the top of each. If the mixture sticks to your hands while forming the balls, grease your hands with a little vegetable oil.

5

Pour vegetable oil to a height of 3 inches into a medium saucepan. Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 325 degrees. Deep-fry the shrimp balls for about 3 minutes until golden brown. Drain on a rack and reserve in a warm place.

Pea soup and assembly

1

Slice 12 slices of the daikon as thinly as possible using a mandoline or knife. Cut the slices to resemble cherry tree petals, and reserve in a small cup of water.

2

In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add baking soda and peas and blanch for 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the peas and put them in a bowl of ice water. Strain the cooled peas and push them through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the second skin.

3

In a food processor or using an immersion blender, fully puree the strained peas with the dashi stock.

4

Combine the pea puree, soy sauce and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and gently bring to a boil, carefully stirring so the soup does not burn on the bottom and heats evenly. Stir in the kuzu slurry, or enough to thicken the soup. Season with one-eighth teaspoon salt or to taste. (Makes a little over 1 1/2 cups soup.)

5

In each of six small serving bowls, place 1 shrimp ball. Cover with about one-fourth cup soup and garnish with two petal-shaped pieces of daikon. Serve immediately.

Adapted from “Kaiseki: The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto’s Kikunoi Restaurant” by Yoshihiro Murata. Kombu (dried seaweed leaves ), dried bonito flakes (shaved dried tuna), powdered kombu dashi stock, mirin and fresh yamaimo (or nagaimo) mountain yam are available in the Asian food section of selected supermarkets. Powdered kuzu (kudzu) root is available at most health food stores. You will need only a small amount of soft-fleshed white fish fillet for the shrimp balls (1 1/3 ounce -- about a 3-by-3-inch piece); you might ask for a small rex or petrale sole fillet at your local high-end grocery store or fish monger; alternately, you might check with an Asian market for sashimi-sliced soft white fish. You will have extra dashi stock; this can be used as a base for miso or other soup.

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