Japanese Culinary Lesson of the Day … Miso.

misoSo today I thought I’d blog a little in the culinary topic. I’m gonna share with you the versatility of Miso. A Japanese staple that is used in many ways from instant soups, marinades, seasonings, etc.

So what is Miso you ask ? It’s not peanut butter even though it looks like it. Miso is a soybean paste made by fermentation and adding salt, seasonings, and other ingredients. Soybeans are very healthy for you and Japanese have two(2) Soybean products that help you reap the health benefits. One being the Miso “Soybean Paste” and the other being Natto “Fermented Soybeans”

Now Natto requires a very acquired taste as it’s pretty much rotten soybeans. Many are put off by the stringy slime that Natto is. You may think how can eating rotten beans be healthy for you. But the fermented enyzmes in Natto is what makes it healthy. My favorite way to eat Natto and probably the most traditional way most Japanese eat Natto is to put some soy sauce and sliced green onions then eat them over rice. Growing up my Brother and I used to make monster faces as we opened and closed our mouths making the stringy slime coat our lips like drool strings.

Miso is completely different from Natto although it is also fermented. The fermented soybeans are ground to a smooth paste like peanut butter consistency. I am sure that many of you who’ve dined at a Japanese restuarant has drank Miso soup that accompanies your ordered dishes. The salty broth is made by diluting the Miso paste is boiling water creating a broth. Miso is often sold in square containers such as the one pictured below …
okasan cup koshiSometimes they come in plastic pouches or round containers but most are in square ones like this one. Miso is very versatile as it can easily be used in many ways kinda like bouillion base. There’s different types of Miso each with a different flavor and texture such as White “Shiro”, Yellow “Shishu”, Red “Aka”, and there’s even a Black “Kuro” miso. All are pretty much the same but the color differences are due to the longer fermentation times. The longer the fermenting time the stronger the taste.

I tend to like the Shiro “White” miso which isn’t really white but more a tan peanut butter-ish color. Keep in mind that Miso is very salty and although it can be eaten alone as a dip for vegetables like cucumbers a tiny bit goes a long way. Miso like I said previously is very versatile as it can be used in many things. Most common is to make Miso soup. You just place a tablespoon into a tea strainer and slowly dilute it into a boiling pot of water. You use a strainer such as a tea strainer or mesh strainer spoon so that the miso completely dissolves and you catch any bits of soybean.

Miso does not dissolve properly if you just drop a spoonful into the boiling water. Once the Miso soup base is made you can add in any ingredient you desire. The simple ingredients is Tofu and sliced Onions. But you can add mushrooms … Oyster mushrooms or Shitake is nice or you can add some chicken or even toss in some Ramen. Miso Ramen is very delicious !

A container of Miso lasts a very long time and Miso has a very long shelf life so you don’t have to worry about it going bad before you can use up the whole container. I add a tablespoon in replacement of those seasoning packets that come with instant ramens. A tiny bit goes a long way as I said Miso is very salty so if you’re on a low sodium diet or on a sodium restricted diet you might wanna use less that normal. If I’m not mistaken the Miso that my Mom gave me has 850mg of Sodium and I’m not even sure if that’s in a tablespoon or teaspoon.

There’s a lot of ways to use Miso and I hope you’ll give it a try and experiment with the versatility of this product. Spicy Miso Wings sounds great or Miso marinaded Steak or a Miso gravy to pour over your mashed potatoes. I’m sure if you Google Miso recipes the amount is endless. So give Miso and try ! Feel free to comment your experience or even share a Miso recipe down↓ below in the comments. (∩3∩) Itadakimasu !!

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