My kitchen for the past several months has seemed to take on a distinctly Asian flare inspired by the wonderful posts of one of my favorite food blog writers, Maki,  of Just Hungry and Just Bento . With her influence, I have been making bento lunches almost daily, and have a large stash in my freezer of dumplings, steamed buns, and udon noodles. I have been experimenting gleefully with fish sauces, chili oil, rice vinegar, adzuki beans, and miso paste, and have found that for the most part these ingredients are actually quite simple to use, and produce tasty results (regardless of whether they are being used authentically).

Although the winter in San Francisco has been curiously warm, there have been the requisite freezing rainy days  (including what appeared to be small hail yesterday) which provide the perfect opportunity for enjoying a warm soup for a cold afternoon.  My most recent concoction, using Japanese flavors, is a really simple rice noodle soup flavored with shiro miso paste, and topped with a poached egg.

While you can certainly purchase dry rice noodles and keep them in your pantry, it’s a nice treat to get them fresh. Fresh rice noodles are soft and stored at room temperature, and must be used right away. They do keep for a few days refrigerated, but the noodles will become hard, and require a boiling water bath to reconstitute them to their soft state. I purchased mine at a Manila Oriental Market in San Francisco, but they can be found in any sort of asian market under different cultural names. I’ve also seen them fresh in health food stores.

Shiro Miso paste is a fermented soy paste similar to  bouillon, and is one of the most basic varieties of miso (there are many). To make miso soup, the miso is traditionally mixed with a dashi stock, although I have found that I like shiro miso used as the flavoring for soup just simply on its own.

A Very Quick Noodle Soup
for 1 or 2

– fresh rice noodles (I like the thick flat variety)
– 1 tablespoon shiro miso paste
– a poached egg*
– salt and pepper


1. Heat about three cups of water in a tea pot. In a small bowl or mug, take the miso paste and wet it with a few tablespoons of hot water, to thin the paste a bit.

2. In a medium sized bowl, place fresh rice noodles, and the miso, and cover with the hot water. Let sit for about ten minutes (less if the noodles are really fresh), stirring to mix the miso and allow the flavors to meld. While the soup sits, poach your egg, then plop it on top, add some salt and pepper, and enjoy.

*A note on poaching the egg. Poached eggs are eggs which are cooked in water or steam. Fortunately there are handy tools, such as a cute silicone egg poacher, that can help with the process. I’ll admit it though, because of my friend Heather’s generosity, I’ve shunned traditional methods in exchange for an egg shaped microwave poacher which cooks my egg to perfection in 45 seconds flat. It’s kind of fantastic.