This is a very elegant soup. It is often served in Kaiseki Ryōri, but it’s surprisingly quite easy to make. Simply mix prawn paste and hanpen fish cakes with seasonings, make balls and boil them before serving in clear soup.
Add the Clear Soup ingredients to a saucepan and heat it up. When it starts boiling, add bamboo shoot slices and cook for a minute or so. Turn the heat off.
Place the diced hanpen on the cutting board. Using the side of a knife, press the hanpen pieces down to crush them, making them into paste like texture.
Fill a medium size pot with water to a depth of about 10cm/4” and heat over high heat (note 6).
When the water starts boiling, drop balls one by one into the boiling water.
Reheat the Clear Soup, place two Shrimp Balls per serving bowl and add equal amount of soup to the bowls.
Place a bamboo shoot slice and a mitsuba in each bowl. Serve immediately.
1. Dice the prawns into very small pieces and spread the prawn pieces thinly on the cutting board. Starting from the one end of the mince, chop the mince in a methodical way by moving the knife by 5-7mm / ¼”, then do the same perpendicular to the first direction.
Instead of mincing the prawns by hand, you can use a food processor to make paste. In this case, add all the Shrimp Balls ingredients to the food processor and make shrimp paste. You can then skip the steps 2 & 3.
2. Hanpen is made of fish paste and Japanese mountain yam with seasoning (see the photo in my post). It is sold frozen at Japanese grocery stores.
If you can’t get hanpen, omit it and increase the amount of prawn by 50g/1.8oz, add ½ teaspoon sugar and increase salt by another pinch.
3. When the dashi stock is one of the key features of the dish like today, I use ichiban-dashi (see Home Style Japanese Dashi Stock) as it has the best flavour.
But if you have no time to make dashi stock from scratch, you can use a dashi pack to make clear soup. Please refer to the instructions on the pack and use the appropriate quantity of dashi pack for the dashi stock required in the recipe.
4. Thinly sliced bamboo shoots and mitsuba leaves are my choice today. But you can substitute them with other vegetables such as sliced shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, or sliced carrot. They need to be blanched in the Clear Soup.
Instead of mitsuba, you can use other green leaves such as small mizuna leaves, blanched spinach, snow pea shoots or julienned blanched snow peas.
5. Mitsuba is a wild Japanese parsley or the Japanese version of Cryptotaenia. Japanese grocery stores usually stock fresh mitsuba. But in Sydney Korean grocery stores may sell mitsuba, too.
6. Instead of boiling Shrimp Balls in a separate saucepan of boiling water, some recipes boil them in the Clear Soup directly. It reduces washing but I didn't use this method because the shrimp balls tend to make the clear soup a little bit cloudy. If you don’t mind a cloudy soup, you can cook the balls directly in the clear soup.
7. Nutrition per serving. It does not include garnish.
serving: 120g calories: 71kcal fat: 2.2g (3%) saturated fat: 0.5g (2%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.4g monounsaturated fat: 0.9g cholesterol: 56mg (19%) sodium: 937mg (39%) potassium: 188mg (5%) carbohydrates: 3.2g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.3g (1%) sugar: 0.1g protein: 8.4g vitamin a: 1.9% vitamin c: 1.5% calcium: 1.9% iron: 1.3%