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What is Red Miso Soup (Akadashi)?
Red miso soup, or aka-dashi, is a specific variety of miso soup predominantly prepared using red miso mixed with soybean miso. Esteemed for their distinct flavor, Hatcho miso and Nagoya miso are prime examples of the red miso types used in preparing aka-dashi.
Incidentally, I grew up about a 15-minute walk from the Hatcho Miso factory, and it is no exaggeration to say that aka-dashi is the most common type of miso soup in my hometown. It is commonly eaten in the Tokai region, mainly in Aichi Prefecture.
Despite “dashi” in its name, aka-dashi does not necessarily indicate the inclusion of dashi. Products can be labeled as “aka-dashi,” regardless of the presence or absence of dashi. Instead, the defining characteristics of aka-dashi derive from using soybean miso—a meticulously aged blend of soybeans, salt, soybean koji (malt), and water. This results in a flavor profile abundant in bean richness, profound depth, and a hint of bitterness.
Historically, aka-dashi was a dish predominantly prepared in traditional Japanese-style restaurants. However, it eventually infiltrated the commercial sphere and gained recognition as a popular home-cooked dish. This transition was spearheaded by the commercialization of “aka-dashi miso” in Nagoya around 1955. Subsequently, numerous companies within the Tokai region producing soybean miso began commercializing their products, leading to the nationwide popularity of aka-dashi.
However, in my experience, red miso is an acquired taste, and people outside Aichi Prefecture are divided between those who like aka-dashi and those who do not.
Ingredients & Substitution Ideas
- Hatcho miso paste – Hatcho miso made in Japan is not easily accessible outside of Japan, but Hatcho miso style miso paste is available.
- Soy sauce – If you are looking for something reasonably priced, you can’t go wrong with Kikkoman soy sauce.
- Dashi broth – This broth is the base of the miso soup. Choose from dashi made with dried bonito flakes and/or kelp, or plant-based dashi made with kelp and shiitake mushrooms if you want to make it suitable for vegetarians and vegans. You could also use instant dashi or dashi bags if you like.
- Tofu – Either silken or firm tofu can be used depending on your preference.
- Aburaage – This is also known as “deep fried tofu pouch” in English.
- Dried wakame (seaweed) – Dried wakame is easier to use and more suitable for miso soup.
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Visual Walkthrough & Tips
Here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make Authentic Red Miso Soup at home. For ingredient quantities and simplified instructions, scroll down for the Printable Recipe Card below.
Start by pouring your dashi into a saucepan and bring it to a boil over a medium heat.
Cut the tofu pouch into thin slices and add them to the dashi broth along with the dried wakame. Wakame expands a lot once added to the water so a little goes a long way.
Adding the ingredients will lower the heat of the dashi, so wait for it to bubble again and then lower the heat to a simmer.
Cut the tofu into cubes and add it to the soup. Continue to simmer until the tofu is heated through, turn off the heat and add the red miso paste and a dash of soy sauce. Since miso paste is prone to clumping, I recommend placing the miso onto a mesh spoon, submerging it into the dashi and using a mini whisk to break it up and evenly incorporate it into the broth.
If you don’t have a mesh spoon, pour a small amount of hot dashi into a heatproof bowl and whisk in the miso paste to loosen up the consistency before adding it to the rest of the soup.
Divide into serving bowls and enjoy! I often top my aka-dashi with chopped green onion for a pop of color and a refreshing taste to complement the richness of the soup.Jump to Full Recipe Measurements
How to Store
When it comes to the storage of miso soup, it is pivotal to note that room temperature is not an ideal condition. Although the soup may last longer in winter, it can spoil within half a day in the summer if left at room temperature. As a general rule, the storage of miso soup at room temperature should be avoided.
Should refrigeration be necessary, it is advisable to keep the pot containing the miso soup in the refrigerator. Before refrigeration, ensure that the miso soup has cooled down enough. By refrigerating the soup in this manner, it can be stored for approximately 3 to 4 days during winter and around 2 days during the summer.
It should be noted that the shelf life may vary depending on the ingredients used. If the soup includes meat or rapidly perishable ingredients like bean sprouts, it might be prudent to consume it half a day before the suggested storage timeframe. Regardless of the shelf life, always inspect the soup for any change in appearance or smell before consumption.
Miso paste tends to lose its flavor when it is overheated, so it is recommended to warm it up on the stove rather than using a microwave if possible.
Freezing is generally not recommended for the ingredients such as tofu typically found in miso soup, as they are not conducive to reheating from a frozen state.
I hope you enjoy this Red Miso Soup recipe! If you try it out, I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
More Miso Soup Recipes
Red Miso Soup (Akadashi)
- Mini whisk
- 500 ml dashi stock make it vegetarian/vegan by using plant-based dashi
- ½ tbsp dried wakame seaweed(s)
- 15 g fried tofu pouch(s) (aburaage) sliced
- 75 g firm tofu (or silken tofu depending on preference) cubed
- 2 tbsp red miso I recommend Hatcho Miso if you can get it
- 1 dash soy sauce
- finely chopped green onion(s) optional garnish
- Pour 500 ml dashi stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat.
- Add ½ tbsp dried wakame seaweed(s) and 15 g fried tofu pouch(s) and bring to a boil once more. Then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Add 75 g firm tofu and place 2 tbsp red miso onto a mesh spoon. Submerge the spoon into the dashi and whisk until it breaks up into the soup. (See note) Add 1 dash soy sauce and mix well to distribute.
- Divide into serving bowls and enjoy with a sprinkle of finely chopped green onion(s)!