Also called bean paste, this Japanese culinary mainstay is made by injecting cooked soybeans
with a mold (koji
cultivated in a barley
or soybean base. It comes in a wide
variety of flavors, colors and textures depending on the ratio of
soybeans, koji and
used. It is further affected by the length of time it is aged.
Miso is perhaps best known for its role in miso soup
, but it also adds
rich flavor and creamy texture to noodles
, salad dressings
, rubs and pates.
The lightest colored miso is known as Shiro. Often made from rice, it provides a sweet taste for delicate sauces, dressings and a variety of lighter foods. Shinshu is an all-purpose variety with a golden yellow color and mellow flavor.
Darker varieties, richer and more robust in taste, are used to
flavor hearty stews, grains, legumes, gravies or marinades. Regional
favorites include sendai, a fragrant reddish-brown variety found in northern Japan, and hatcho, a dark brown miso popular in central Japan.
Low-salt miso is also available as an alternative to varieties containing high concentrations of salt.
Miso's origins can be traced back to 3rd century BC China, where it was
known as hiso
. It was imported to Japan in the 6th century and became
an important part of the samurai diet.
Miso is most often sold in paste form,
but is also available as a powder. It can be found at Japanese markets
and natural food stores.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one year.
• Add miso sparingly—it is highly concentrated.
• Use it as a table condiment to season foods after cooking.
• To retain flavor and nutrients, be careful not to overcook or boil it.
• Mix one tablespoon of miso into a cup of hot water for a nutritious lunchtime broth.
• Use as a flavoring substitute for soy sauce
(equal measures) or salt.
Miso is easily digested and very nutritious, with rich amounts of B vitamins and protein
Try one of our favorite miso recipes:
Peanut Miso Dressing and Dipping Sauce
Breakfast Miso Soup
Broiled Hawaiian Swordfish in Miso