Miso (or ) is a traditional Japanese seasoning created by fermenting rice, barley, and/or soybeans with salt and a yeast known as kjikin () in Japanese, with soybeans being the most common. The result is a thick paste that can be used in sauces and spreads, pickled vegetables or meats, or mixed with dashi soup stock to make Misoshiru (), a traditional Japanese miso soup. Miso, which is high in protein and high in vitamins and minerals, was an essential source of sustenance in medieval Japan. Miso is still commonly used in traditional and modern Japanese cooking, and it is garnering international attention. Miso is usually salty, but the flavor and aroma vary according on the materials used and the fermenting procedure. Miso has been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory, and there is a huge range of miso to choose from.
Miso’s forerunner was invented in China in the 3rd century BC or earlier, and it’s likely that it, along with other fermented soy-based cuisines, arrived in Japan at the same time as Buddhism in the 6th century AD.
The name of this fermented meal was “Shi.”
Miso, like natto, was made without crushing the soybeans until the Muromachi era. A common supper during the Kamakura period consisted of a bowl of rice, some dried fish, a portion of miso, and a fresh vegetable. Buddhist monks discovered that soybeans could be mashed into a paste during the Muromachi era, resulting in new culinary methods where miso was utilized to flavor other meals.
Miso was a valuable military staple and healthy nourishment for soldiers during the Sengoku (Feudal) era.
In the modern age, the industrial method of mass-producing miso was invented, and it became uncommon to manufacture miso at home, despite the fact that miso made on farms has recently been fashionable as a health food.
Miso’s flavor, scent, texture, and appearance vary depending on the miso type, as well as the place and season in which it was manufactured. Ingredients, fermentation temperature and length, salt content, kji/yeast variety, and fermenting vessel all play a role. The following are the most frequent soy miso flavor categories:
The basic types of miso available in Japan and abroad are white and red (shiromiso and akamiso). In different parts of the world, different types are popular. For example, lighter shiromiso is popular in the eastern Kant region, which contains Tokyo, while darker brownish hatchomiso is popular in the western Kansai region, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, and akamiso is popular in the Tokai region.
Miso is made using a variety of ingredients, including soybeans, barley, rice, buckwheat, millet, rye, wheat, hemp seed, and cycad. Miso made from chickpeas, corn, azuki beans, amaranth, and quinoa has recently become available from manufacturers in other nations. Fermentation can take anywhere from five days to several years. The enormous variety of Japanese miso makes classification difficult, however grain type, color, flavor, and background are widely used.
aka (): crimson, mild flavor, made with rice koji and soybeans, most extensively used in Japan
Miso is made in a variety of ways in different parts of the world. Sendai miso, for example, uses coarsely crushed soybeans in comparison to regular soy miso.
Kome (rice) miso () is miso produced using rice (includes shinshu and shiro miso).
Miso is usually sold as a paste in a sealed container that must be kept refrigerated once opened. It can be eaten raw, but boiling alters its flavor and nutritional value; most cooks do not bring miso to a full boil when using it in miso soup. To retain the biological activity of the kjikin/fermented yeast, some individuals, particularly those outside of Japan, add miso to preparations only after they have cooled. Because miso and soy foods are such a big part of the Japanese diet, there are a lot of prepared miso dishes.
Miso is used in a variety of Japanese dishes. It is most typically found as the principal component in miso soup, which is consumed on a regular basis by a large portion of the Japanese population. The combination of plain rice and miso soup is regarded as a staple of Japanese cuisine. This combination is the foundation of a traditional Japanese breakfast, albeit more and more Japanese in big cities, as opposed to those who live in the countryside, are eating European style.
Miso is also used in a variety of other soups and soup-like foods, such as ramen, udon, nabe, and imoni. Miso-based meals have a richer, earthier flavor and scent than non-miso-based Japanese soups.
A sweet, thick miso glaze is used in several traditional confections, such as mochidango. Miso-glazed sweets are popular at Japanese festivals, but they’re also available year-round at shops. Miso glaze comes in a variety of thicknesses, from thick and taffy-like to thin and drippy.
A sort of pickle made with soy miso is known as “misozuke” (misozuke). These pickles are sweeter and less salty than traditional Japanese salt pickles, and are often made with cucumber, daikon, hakusai/Chinese cabbage, or eggplant/aubergine. Another sort of pickle is made using barley miso, or nukamiso (). Nukamiso is a fermented food that is classified as a sort of miso in Japanese culture and language, however it does not include soy and hence performs differently. Nukamiso, like soy miso, is fermented with kji mold.
Fish or poultry can be marinated overnight in miso and sake before being grilled.
In Japan, shiro miso-coated corn on the cob is wrapped in foil and grilled.
Commercial organizations and household cooks alike have lauded the nutritional benefits of miso. Some research, however, have refuted claims that miso is abundant in vitamin B12. Some soy products are high in B vitamins (though not necessarily B12), and others, such as soy milk, may be fortified with vitamin B12. Some people, particularly health food advocates, believe that miso can help treat radiation illness, citing incidents in Japan and Russia when people were fed miso following the Chernobyl nuclear accident and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts. Some experts also believe that miso, which contains Lactobacillus acidophilus or Lecithin, a type of phospholipid produced by fermentation, is useful in lowering blood pressure. Salt is present in miso. Although a small amount is required for animal life, most experts feel that an excessive amount can create a range of health issues.
How do you eat raw miso paste?
You can use a spoonful in salads or sauces without cooking them first. Miso comes in a wide range of flavors, shapes, and textures, with variances relating to regional cuisines, identities, and flavors. The fifth flavor, known as ‘umami,’ is found in this protein-rich paste.
What is red miso good for?
Are you looking for a way to add more umami to your food? It’s helpful to know a little about the different styles of miso if you’re tasting miso for the first time or simply want to increase your miso selection. Here’s a simple instruction to help you out. **
White Miso (Shiro Miso)
White miso, often known as “sweet” or “mellow” miso, is fermented for a shorter period of time and has less salt than darker versions. It has a gentler, more delicate flavor and is simple to work with. It’s fantastic in summer soups, salads, and light sauces, and in some cases, it can even be used in place of dairy (think miso mashed potatoes).
Red Miso (Aka Miso)
Red miso is a longer-fermented miso that includes all darker red and brown variants. It is saltier than light yellow and white miso and has a stronger, pungent flavor. It works well in heartier foods like rich soups, braises, marinades, and glazes. Use lightly because it can easily overpower gentler ingredients.
How to Store:
Miso paste should be kept refrigerated in a firmly sealed container. Lighter kinds will last about 9 months, while darker varieties will last up to a year. We recommend checking the sell-by date on the container and avoiding kinds that contain additives such as MSG.
Can I just put miso paste in water?
Miso is a fermented food, which means it contains live, active bacteria cultures, similar to the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt. Adding it to boiling water kills the bacteria in the miso, negating the health benefits it usually provides, such as improved digestion. Stir or whisk in miso to taste once the soup has been removed from the heat. The paste-like texture will dissolve into the soup due to the stock’s residual heat. Slurp away.
How do you mix miso paste?
After many years of cooking with miso, I’ve learned a few frequent blunders that can ruin a perfectly wonderful dish. To avoid them, familiarize yourself with these five rules before you begin.
AVOID BOILING MISO
The most common blunder! When miso is boiled, it loses some of its fragrant properties as well as some of its nutritional benefits. This is why miso is generally stirred in at the end of the cooking process, either at a low heat or with the heat turned off. If you add it at the beginning of the cooking process and boil it, the flavors lose their nuanced sweet and savory tones, leaving you with a much more one-dimensional taste.
STRAIN MISO FOR SOUPS AND BROTHS
When miso is added at the conclusion of the cooking process, this is a crucial step. Miso is a hard ingredient that takes a long time to soften when heated. As a result, merely stirring it into liquid will result in lumpy miso in your broth. Guests may then be served a less-than-pleasant sharp-salty nugget that refuses to melt in their bowl. I recommend straining the miso into the stock in all of my soup and broth recipes. You can use a Japanese sieve or whisk the miso paste with a ladleful of liquid from the pot before pouring back into the main pot.
THIN MISO BEFORE MAKING DRESSINGS & SAUCES
Miso would remain lumpy, adhering to your salad leaves in an unappealing way, unlike most salad dressing components, which can be thrown into a bottle and shaken. I advocate thinning the miso in a bowl with another liquid – perhaps olive oil or sake – using a spoon or a little whisk.
WIPE OFF EXCESS MISO MARINADES
Miso is a great marinade, but it doesn’t melt because it’s made mostly of soybeans. Because sugar is present in many miso marinades, they have a tendency to burn. This can produce a nice tarring flavor, such as in grilled cod miso, but there is a narrow line between smokey umami flavors and a bitter coating that destroys a meal, so be careful. My trick is to blot marinated items with kitchen paper before putting them in the oven, grill, or pan, leaving only the thinnest layer behind; instead of cooking them dripping with sauce as a barbecue marinade, I blot them with kitchen paper before putting them in the oven, grill, or pan, leaving only the thinnest layer behind. Less is more with miso marinades; believe that the flavor has already penetrated the meat, fish, or veggies.
STORING MISO – KEEP IT COVERED
Miso should be kept in a closed container and refrigerated to keep its color and flavor. In general, the lighter the color and flavor, the more careful you must be, and refrigeration is recommended.
White miso should be consumed within three months of opening, whereas sweet miso should be consumed within three weeks. Darker misos, such as barley, brown rice, and red miso, can be stored for up to 6 months, while soybean miso can be stored for up to 12 months. The miso will not spoil after these times, but the flavor and color will alter, becoming less fragrant. Soybean miso, which has a lower salt content, gets tougher as well. If you notice white or green mould on top of your miso, simply skim it off as you would jam. Pinkish mold is a more serious problem, and you’ll need to scrape it out well and utilize the remaining uncontaminated miso within the following day or so, or discard it.
What do you eat with miso?
For starters, it’s delicious! It has a particular umami flavor that you’ll find in traditional Japanese dishes. The lighter the miso, the less powerful the taste and the shorter the fermentation time. The darker misos have been fermented for a longer period of time and have a stronger, saltier flavor. Both are fantastic! For salad dressings and mild sauces, I like the lighter miso. Red miso has a stronger taste that I prefer for marinades and hearty soups.
Miso may also be beneficial to one’s health. I’ve previously written on the health benefits of fermented foods, and miso is one of them. Fermented foods such as miso, tempeh, and soy sauce can assist to populate the good bacteria in your stomach, keeping your immune system healthy and robust!
So, let’s get started on learning how to make miso paste in the kitchen! I enjoy using miso in current dishes or simply as a seasoning.
Here are 5 simple methods to utilize miso paste that don’t require a recipe; remember to use less or no salt:
- For an Asian twist, leave out the salt and toss into your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing.
- Toss with mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash (whisk with a little water to make it thin)
Here are 6 more wonderful ways to use miso paste from my RD blogger friends for even more inspiration:
I hope you’ll start using miso paste in your recipes; I’m confident it’ll become a staple!
Do you need to refrigerate miso paste?
Miso paste is used as a flavor enhancer as well as a component base. Q: What is the best way to store miso? A: Miso, which is considered a living food, is best stored in the refrigerator. If miso is only kept in the freezer for a few months, it will not freeze and will retain its scent and flavor.
Miso gives a vinaigrette a nice savory richness. 1 tablespoon sherry or wine vinegar, 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and 1 scant teaspoon miso paste make a salad for two. Alternatively, try the recipe below!
This is a delicious way to elevate your burgers to the next level. Dan Hong, a fantastic Sydney chef, gave me the idea for this dish.
Cook the onions till tender in a little butter, then remove from the pan and season with a little miso. A teaspoon or two is usually sufficient… Allow your taste buds to lead the way.
Main course soup.
When you think of miso, the first thing that springs to mind is undoubtedly miso soup. A light broth with seaweed and a few cubes of tofu is the classic version. Miso soups, on the other hand, can be delicious on their own…
Heat 3 cups stock or water to a simmer for 2 servings, then add in 1-2 tbsp white miso. Then toss in 400g (14oz) of vegetables, protein, and/or noodles. Cook on low heat until everything is done.
Use miso in a marinade to fully infuse all those savory flavors. This doesn’t have to be an overnight undertaking. It only takes 5 minutes to make a difference.
Mix 6 tablespoons white wine, mirin, or Chinese Shaoxing wine with 2 tablespoons miso as a starting point. Make enough marinade for two people out of chicken, beef, or lamb. Grill it or pan fried it.
Sauce to serve with pan fried meat or fish.
This concept came from Nigel Slater’s recent (amazing) book, Eat. In a small amount of oil, cook the meat or fish. Remove the pan from the heat and set the protein aside to cool. To serve, combine the pan juices with a tablespoon of wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons white miso, and a tablespoon of boiling water, and drizzle over the meat or fish.
Can you eat miso paste by itself?
Miso is frequently biologically active due to the presence of helpful microbes. It’s best to eat it raw. Chilled miso is commonly used as a vegetable dip.