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Japanese Clear Winter Vegetable Soup

(Suzuki no suimono)

Wintry, yes; but subtly so. Here the aromatics of dashi are given weight with a small slab of fish, a flower of carrot, and daikon sticks. A bracing and stimulating prelude to a meal. Serve hot to 4 people in beautiful cups.

  • 4 cups dashi
  • 1/2 small carrot, notched lengthwise with a lemon zester so that thin slices look like flower petals
  • 1/4 cup matchsticks of daikon radish
  • 4 slices of sea bass or other firm fish, cut into exact 1-inch by 1-inch squares
  • 8 tiny slivers of lemon rind (white scraped away)

Put salted water on the boil to cook the vegetables: first, the carrot flowers until just tender; then the daikon; finally the fish boxes. Drain each by turn.

When ready to serve, heat the dashi to a boil. Set out thew heated bowls and arrange the fish, carrot flowers, and daikon strips in them. With a large ladle, carefully pour the dashi into each bowl and top with a few strips of lemon rind. Serve immediately.