What is Miso?
Part of our Ultimate Guide to World Cuisine. Click to see more answers to your questions.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans, salt, and a mold called koji (Aspergillus oryzae). It is a thick, paste-like substance that comes in various colors and flavors, depending on the fermentation process, ingredients used, and the region it is made in. The most common types of miso are white (shiro) miso, red (aka) miso, and mixed (awase) miso. Other ingredients such as barley, rice, or other grains can also be used in miso production, resulting in a range of flavors and textures.
Miso is used extensively in Japanese cuisine and has become popular worldwide due to its rich, savory flavor, known as umami.
Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup made by dissolving miso paste in a dashi (a broth made from kombu seaweed and bonito flakes) and adding ingredients such as tofu, seaweed, and green onions.
Miso can be combined with other ingredients like mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and sake to create a marinade for meats, fish, or vegetables. It can also be used as a glaze when grilling or broiling. Some great recipes are Japanese Miso Cod with Bok Choy and Mushrooms, Gluten-free Miso Portabello Mushrooms
Miso can be mixed with ingredients such as rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar to create a flavorful salad dressing. It can be combined with ingredients like tahini, yogurt, or mayonnaise to create a savory dip or spread for vegetables or crackers. Try the recipe for Miso Almond Dipping Sauce.
Miso is often used as a base for ramen broth, creating a rich and savory soup
When using miso in cooking, it is essential to remember that it is quite salty and flavorful, so a little goes a long way. It is also sensitive to high heat, which can destroy some of its beneficial properties and alter its flavor, so it is usually best to add miso towards the end of the cooking process or use it in dishes that do not require high heat.
Miso has numerous health benefits due to its fermentation process, which creates probiotics that support gut health and digestion. It is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein.