Miso is a fermented soy-based seasoning paste with a smooth, buttery texture and a tangy, salty taste. Japanese miso soup is the most common use, but miso is also used for dressings, marinades, and sauces. The Japanese start most mornings with a bowl of miso soup. Its health-giving properties are said to include improving digestion, protecting from cancer, and even helping remove toxins from exposure to heavy metals or radiation. A single tbs of miso contains 2 grams of protein and has only 25 calories. All in all, marvelous miso is a must for vegan diets.
Selection and Storage
Most miso is made from soybeans, though there are also types made from barley and rice. A yeast mold called ”koji” is added and fermentation time can be from a few weeks to years. The color and texture depend on the ingredients and fermentation time and the Japanese consider the making of miso an art akin to cheese making.
You’ll find miso tightly sealed plastic or glass containers in health food stores and some supermarkets. Darker colored misos have a more intense flavor. Miso is most often used to make soup, which is traditionally prepared with dashi, a fish stock. Store miso, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to a year.
To make e miso soup, heat water and miso paste over medium-low heat and stir to dissolve. Do not boil. Miso can also be used as an ingredient in many salad dressings with the addition of oil and perhaps some orange juice, ginger, and garlic.
Miso is quite salty and can be used instead of salt to add a much more complex depth of flavor to many dishes. It is also a good thickener for sauces and stews and can be used, as is, as a spread on crackers or sandwiches.