I love random stuff in supermarkets. It was marketing day – I usually go to the wet market as well as a supermarket every Friday – it’s once a week massive grocery shopping that provides enough fodder for the week. D and I have a drill – she picks up all the ingredients needed for regular meals and I pick up random items that catch my fancy so that I can cook something different.
So I was at the chilled seafood section mulling over whether I should get prawns when I saw a pair of beady eyes staring at me…it was a small tray of halved salmon heads tucked away in a low shelf. Now most Asians are not queasy about seeing heads, tails or entrails in the market as our wet markets sell everything from nose to tail. In fact fish heads a a sort of delicacy here in Asia; I’m completely in love with all varieties of curry fish head. The cheek flesh is like the gold nugget of the fish – the most tender and flavorful nubbin of meat ever. And salmon fish head is very much a thing in Japanese cooking so when I saw the fresh salmon heads I really couldn’t resist them. And it also helped that the heads only cost $3!
Because I had been to the market I actually had some really lovely fish slices on hand as well – the snakehead (Toman) fish is another highly prized fish locally. It’s often touted to have healing properties and is recommended for people recovering from surgery. It’s a slightly sweet, mild flavored fish that is often used in noodle soups. It was a welcome addition to the soup as I also cook for my elderly dad who wouldn’t be able to handle too much of the bones and bits of the salmon heads.
I used yellow zucchinis for the zoodles because they were pretty. ‘Nuff said. Zucchini noodles or zoodles are a lovely low carb hack; the trick is to barely blanch the spiralized zoodles as you want a tiny bit of crunch and not mushy strings. Spiralized daikon is also really nice in soup but as I already had sliced daikon in the broth I figured the zucchini was enough.
This soup was light and flavorful. What I loved was that there was no heavy fishy flavor and there was a freshness to the whole bowl. Using a dashi-miso broth ensured that the fish was the star but not the gangsta boss of the soup. Both the oldies in my home were really happy with the soup and it was a truly enjoyable lunch.
Salmon Head Zoodle Soup
- 8 cups of water
- 2 pieces of konbu (dried kelp)
- 1 cup bonito flakes
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar substitute
- 1.5 tbsp miso
- 1 salmon head, cut in half and cleaned
- 200g sliced fish (I used snakehead fish but you can use salmon or other firm fish)
- 80g daikon, peeled and sliced into 1/2 cm thick pieces
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/2 cm thick pieces
- 1 bunch of crown daisy (tang oh) vegetable or any kind of lettuce greens
- 1 block of silken tofu cut into large pieces
- 1 packet of enoki mushrooms
- 2 zucchinis, cut into thirds, then spiralized to noodle like ribbons.
- 1.Wipe the konbu clean with a kitchen towel or damp cloth. Place the konbu in a large stock pot and pour in the water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. When the water has started to boil, turn off the fire and remove the konbu. Put in the bonito flakes and let the stock sit for 10 minutes. Drain the stock and discard the bonito flakes. This is the dashi stock.
- Bring the dashi stock to boil and add the miso, salt and sugar substitute and stir well. Add the daikon and carrot pieces and boil for about 10 minutes till the daikon is tender. At this point, taste the soup and adjust the seasonings according to your taste.
- Cook the ingredients in the following order: boil the zucchini noodles first for about 30 seconds, then portion into 4 bowls. Add the tofu and enoki mushrooms and heat up briefly and portion into the bowls. Add the salmon heads and fish slices and continue to simmer about a minute, then remove the fish slices and portion into the bowls. Add the vegetables (crown daisy) and barely cook for about 10-15 seconds and portion into the bowls (the heat of the soup will continue to cook the vegetables). Finally top up each bowl with the soup.
- Depending on your guests you can portion out the salmon heads/parts into their soup bowls or put the salmon heads and remaining broth into a smaller casserole to serve and allow them to help themselves.