Japanese dancing fish flakes? such a beautiful name, but what the heck is that? Well, other names of it include "Dried Bonito", "Dried Bonito Flakes", "Katsuoboshi", "Katsuobushi", "Katsuo-Bushi". Still don't recognize any? It is actually dried and smoked bonito (skipjack tuna) that is then shaved into thin flakes. It is a key ingredient in Japanese cooking, specifically its use in making dashi, a fish stock commonly used as a base in many recipes. As for why it's called dancing fish flakes, it is because when you sprinkle some on top of something hot, the heat makes them crimple and toss as if dancing. Topping this cauliflower soup with Bonito flakes is kind of my imporvisation, and it turns out surprisingly good! The smoky falvor does a good job boosting the mild taste of the soup. I claim it a success! :)
The cheese crisps are another improvisation. Although the soup by itself is good, warm and healthy by itself, it's always better to pair with something solid, preferally crunchy to munch on. I was unfortunately out of bread, but found leftover parmesean cheese. So here are the cheese crisps!
Oven-baked cheese crisps
1 cup grated hard cheese (such as Parmesean) - NOT the dried powdery stuff
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Toss cheese with any seasonings you'd like -- garlic powder (about half a teaspoon for a cup of cheese), hot pepper powder, even cinnamon. Or leave plain.
3. Pile 1 to 4 Tablespoons of cheese (depending on the size you want) on a baking sheet covered with a alluminum foil or parchment paper oiled on both sides. Flatten the tops so they are in more or less an even pile. There should be at least two inches between smaller mounds, 4 inches between larger ones.
4. Bake 5 to 6 minutes until they are a light golden brown (they will be a little darker at the edges). It happens fast, so watch carefully.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
About 1/2 tsp. salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 large head cauliflower (2 lbs.), chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Freshly ground pepper
1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Stir in cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. In 3 batches, whirl soup in a blender until very smooth, at least 3 minutes per batch (or, if you'd like a few florets in your soup, blend 2 batches and leave the last chunky). Stir together and season to taste with pepper and salt.