- 2 tablespoons Shiromiso Paste
- 4 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons Mirin
- 2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
What is Miso?
Miso is a thick paste, best known as the key ingredient in Japanese Miso Soup. It is made from fermented soybeans, is brownish in colour and is incredibly salty.
Besides it’s common use in miso soup, miso paste can be used to add flavour to non-Japanese foods, and in this post I’ve explored the use of Miso in a salad dressing.
Miso is made through the fermentation of soybeans with salt and koji mould, or Aspergillus oryzae. Koji is the same mould used to make rice vinegars and sake.
While soybeans are the most common ingredient used to make miso, barley, rice and legumes are also used. Different regions of Japan are known for their miso specialities.
Varying the ingredients and processing give different tastes and colours. Miso using more Koji will produce a sweeter flavour, while maturing for longer gives a much darker and stronger flavoured product. Light coloured miso is aged for just a few months, while the darker varieties can be fermented for up to 3 years.
This video shows a Japanese family making home made Miso:
Types of Miso
The most common flavour categories are:
Shiromiso, “white miso”
Akamiso, “red miso”
Awasemiso, “mixed miso”
In my Salad Dressing below, I’ve used Shiromiso, or “white miso”.
Nutritional properties of Miso
Good vegetable source of Vitamin B12
Good source of antioxidants
Aids with digestion and increases good probiotics in the intestine
There is also plenty floating around on miso’s ability to reduce risk of cancer and even help protect against radiation.
One thing to keep in mind is that Miso is very high in sodium – but it’s other nutritional properties far outweigh this one drawback.
Ways to use Miso
In Japan, miso is most commonly eaten as a traditional breakfast of soup with plain rice. More bizzare uses for miso are as a glaze on confectionery products!
Here are some other recipes you might like to check out:
As a marinade or glaze – for grilled fish or chicken
As a baster – for grilled vegetables and mushrooms
As a dipping sauce – for vegetable snacks
As a BBQ special to liven up Corn on the Cob
Cooking with Miso
Miso is sold in sealed plastic bags, or sometimes in glass jars. After opening, the leftovers can be refrigerated for several months.
Miso paste is very thick, and needs to be mixed with water or other liquid ingredients to make a sauce.
The delicate flavour of miso is best preserved if it is not cooked, but is added to a dish at the end of the cooking process.
Where to buy Miso
You can find Miso at your local Asian grocer, but it’s becoming a more widely used ingredient, and is now available in most supermarkets.
For Australian readers of this blog, Coles and Woolworths both stock miso, and I have included links to their online stores below. Miso is priced at about $4 AUD for a 400g packet (which works out to about $4USD at the moment also).
Coles Online http://bit.ly/XfEQQm
Woolworths Online http://bit.ly/WXwLu5
For American readers of this blog, Whole Food Markets stocks Miso, and you can watch a great video about the American Miso Company – the world’s largest traditional organic miso maker in the world.
For readers from the UK, I found miso online at Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Miso Salad Dressing
To make this simple salad dressing, I combined the miso paste with a little water, some mirin for sweetness and some rice wine vinegar.
The salad could be made from anything you have on hand in the fridge.
2 tablespoons Shiromiso Paste
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Mirin
2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
1 cup pumpkin, cubed
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups butter lettuce, torn
1 cup of rocket
½ cup spring onions, sliced finely
¼ cup sunflower seeds
Combine all components of the dressing, and refrigerate until needed.
Peel and cut the pumpkin into cubes. Spread onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and caraway seeds.
Roast for 20 minutes at 180°C or until the pumpkin is cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Combine the lettuce, rocket, spring onions and sunflower seeds, and add the pumpkin.
Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.
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