I was nearly 30 years old when one day while eating some supermarket sushi it suddenly clicked with me how to properly eat with chopsticks. I had been able to get food from my plate to my mouth for years, but suddenly the idea of holding the bottom stick stationary and only moving the top one was perfectly clear to me for the first time. I don’t know why this took me so long.
Tonight I was reminded just how long it took when Grace, who is now two and a half, picked up the tiny pink chopsticks that her daddy got her on a recent business trip to Japan and held them with perfect form. We were really impressed! Then she started stabbing her noodles to try to pick them up, so perhaps she’s not a complete prodigy.
I’m always looking for an excuse to use these bowls so tonight I decided to make a miso noodle bowl and attempt to make it toddler friendly. I love this recipe because you can change out the veggies for whatever you are in the mood for or have on hand.
This worked out great because it’s a meal that Grace will eat and is also very enjoyable for me and my husband with little modification. Note that the ginger gives the broth some heat on the finish, so I just put a little bit of chicken broth in her bowl instead of the miso broth. She was not into the egg tonight (maybe because I was distracted by her sister while they were cooking and I let them go too long. Oops!), but other than that she enjoyed her “basgetti” and eating with her “chock sticks”. That’s toddler for “spaghetti,” and “chopsticks”in case you’re not fluent.
Miso Noodle Bowl with Spinach and Roasted Carrots
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 Tbsp coarsely grated fresh ginger root
8 cups water
1/2 cup sweet white miso
3 Tbsp cooking rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Noodles, Veggies, etc
salt, as needed
1 10 oz package frozen spinach (no need to thaw)
2 medium carrots
1/2 medium red onion
3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, plus more for finishing the soup
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling over the soup
8 ounces dry rice noodles
4 large soft boiled eggs
2 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
Combine the ginger, dried mushrooms, rice wine, and water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve to remove the ginger. In a small bowl, whisk a half-cup of stock into the miso paste. Stir it to loosen and add the miso back to the stock. Taste for salt and add soy sauce until you like the flavor.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and peel the carrots and cut on the diagonal into 1/4” slices. Cut the onion into 1/4” strips and place on baking sheet with the carrots. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil and toss with a few pinches of salt. Then sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden.
Add the last tablespoon of sesame oil to a saute pan and place over medium high heat. Add frozen spinach and season with salt to taste. Cook to warm through. About 7-8 minutes.
Prepare the noodles according to package instructions.
Divide the noodles into bowls. Top with carrots, onions, and spinach. Poor broth into the bowls. Slice the boiled eggs in half and place them cut side up in the soup. Sprinkle with sesame seed, scallions, a drizzle of sesame oil and dig in.