Japanese Kohlrabi


Do you like broccoli? Do you like the tender snappy sweetness of broccoli stems?

Then you’re going to LOVE kohlrabi.

It’s a summer vegetable that’s readily available and cheap at your farmer’s market. I got two giant ones in my CSA box this week. CSA- that’s community supported agriculture. After railing against CSAs for a while, I just jumped on board. Barrels of  lettuce so far, but this week brought kohlrabi, Swiss chard and really bright fragrant basil.

Kohlrabi is not a very attractive vegetable. It’s knobby and often covered in irregular bumps, but fear not…it’s tasty. It’s fairly versatile and looks lovely when sliced thin for a gratin, like the one I made last year.

kohlrabi gratin
Last night, my giant purple kohlrabi became part of a miso soup and chopped into bite-sized cubes and chilled. These two recipes are meant to be made together in the same pot. The soup is fairly hearty so think of this as a light lunch. Or, serve alongside grilled steak or teriyaki chicken for a complete dinner. First, you boil the cubes of kohlrabi in the miso/dashi broth and then remove them to chill.

I would venture to say that this might be the best miso soup you’ll ever have in your life. The secret is the fried crispy rice. It’s somewhat labor-intensive if you don’t have access to crispy rice squares but DEFINITELY worth it. You can find these squares at many Asian markets in New York City and elsewhere. This guide might help!

The secret to great miso soup is dashi broth which comes in little jars like this one:


For this soup, you’ll need soft or silken tofu. This is usually found in the produce section of your grocery store. It comes in flat plastic tubs and the tofu block is floating in water. You’ll need to carefully remove the block from the water and slice the tofu into cubes without breaking it. It’s very fragile, so I suggested holding the block in your hand and making gentle incisions with a butter knife.


Miso Soup with Kohlrabi & Chilled Kohlrabi

Serves 2

You will need:

1 ½ Tablespoons dashi broth powder
2 Tablespoons white miso paste
1 large kohlrabi or two smaller ones (purple or green will do)
½ teaspoon sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 block soft tofu (about 1 cup), carefully cut into ½ inch cubes
2 Tablespoons dried wakame (seaweed) – optional
4 squares dried crispy rice (recipe below to make your own)
1 Tablespoon chopped scallions


1. First peel your kohlrabi using a sharp vegetable peeler. Then use the peeler to shave off thin slices about an inch wide and three inches long. These will be simmered in the soup so you should have about 1 cup or a large handful of shavings. Then cut the remaining kohlrabi into ½ inch squares. You should have about a cup of these as well.
2. In a medium-sized pot with a lid, heat 3 cups water, the dashi and miso paste over medium high heat. Stir until miso is dissolved and add the kohlrabi squares once the broth is boiling. Boil for about 10 minutes until the kohlrabi becomes soft. Turn off the heat and carefully remove the kohlrabi with a spoon and set aside in a plastic Tupperware container. Add about 2 Tablespoons of broth as well. Chill in the freezer for 25 minutes or the fridge for two hours. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
3. Return your dashi/miso broth to a gentle simmer. At this point you may want to add another cup of water and an additional teaspoon of miso if a lot of your liquid has evaporated. Add the tofu, wakame, kohlrabi shavings and scallions to the simmering broth.
4. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a non-tick pan. Fry the dried rice squares for 3 minutes on each side until they are a deep golden brown. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
5. Carefully ladle the miso soup into two bowls without breaking the tofu cubes. Add the fried rice squares and serve. Serve the chilled kohlrabi on the side with chopsticks.
To make crispy rice from scratch:
(makes 2 cups of crispy rice)

You will need:
1 cup white rice (preferably sushi rice)
1 cup water

1. Rinse rice thoroughly. Add the rice and water to a medium-sized pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil over high heat. When the lid starts to shake (about 5 minutes) turn the heat down to a low simmer. Do not remove the lid at any point during cooking. Simmer rice for 15 minutes and then remove  pot from heat. Allow the pot to rest for 5 minutes before removing lid.
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet coated in parchment paper or a non-stick baking pad. Cook for 40-50 minutes until the rice is dried out. Break it into squares or smaller pieces and store in an air-tight container.

 You might also like:

What to buy at an Asian market

Grilled Japanese Eggplant

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