Add flavour, intensity - and nutrition
You can cook with miso paste at home with these simple, delicious savoury recipes.
When many of us hear the word “miso” we automatically think of miso soup, a staple of Japanese menus. Miso is an amazing fermented paste full of healthy micro-organisms. Due to its saltiness, even the smallest amount renders a tremendous boost to any dish that begs for a punch of nutrition and flavour.
The most common forms of miso are made from fermented soybeans. But you can also find miso made from barley, wheat or rice, or blended from a combination of these ingredients. Koji, the fermentation culture that gives miso its healthy wallop, is used to make all sorts of products, including soy sauce and sake.
Eating fermented foods to increase your nutritional intake is nothing new—it’s a process that’s been used to enhance foods for thousands of years. Miso is high in fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin K, which makes it beneficial for the immune system and digestive tract. Those who are concerned about sodium levels should use it sparingly.
Three major miso pastes are commonly found in stores—white, red and awase, which is a mixture of both white and red. The lighter-coloured white miso, although more golden than white, is less salty and mellower. As the colour of miso darkens, so does the flavour and intensity.
With a bit of imagination, miso paste can be stirred into almost any dish, such as a warm dressing, soup, slaw, rice dish, stir-fry and bean dip, as we’ve done here.
The trick is not to cook it at a high temperature, as heat will lessen its nutrients and quality. It’s best to stir it into your recipe near the end of cooking. Some of these recipes call for specific types of miso paste, but any type of miso will do. Just test for saltiness.