Okinawan Sparerib Soup
(Sokibuni nu Shimun)
Oh, it's just an amazing soup--a little Chinese...a little Japanese...quintessential Okinawan: that is, short meaty white spareribs, brown spongy mushrooms, yellow-green seaweed, white radish, and bright green mustard cabbage. Smell it: there's no mistaking the tang of ginger, but who could deconstruct that layered aroma of meat/seaweed/bonito fish/mushroom stock? And all those classic Okinawan health benefits. Pork (with all the fat boiled out of it) for protein. Mustard cabbage for regularity and a healthy stomach. Seaweed, rich in iron, calcium, and iodine; moderating blood pressure; practically no calories. I tell you, it's a fabulous soup. This recipe is adapted from Hui O Laulima's Okinawan Mixed Plate--and what nice people they are there in Honolulu, Hawaii. The graphic is by an astounding Okinawan artist. Serve the soup hot to 6 as a substantial first course...or a light meal.
Put the mushrooms, spareribs, and ginger in a large soup pot with the 4 cups of water. Bring to a fast boil, skimming away any foam, then reduce heat to medium and let cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
Add the seaweed pieces, cubed daikon, dashi stock, and reserved mushroom liquid, bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 more minutes, until the pork and daikon are tender.
When ready to serve, remove the hunk of ginger, season to taste with soy sauce and salt, and stir in the mustard cabbage. Bring the soup to a boil, then serve out into bowls.