Miso, a fermented soybean paste widely used in Japanese cuisine and very good for health, is a must in Japanese dishes.
- Miso, a fermented soybean paste excellent for health
- Different varieties of miso
- Its various origins in Japan
- Miso taste and use
- The controversial health benefits of miso
Miso, a fermented soybean paste excellent for health
Miso “味噌” is made from cooked soybeans, with japanese rice and/or wheat most often, depending on the region. To this mixture is added a fermentation agent called koji. Miso is a thick brownish fermented paste, rich in vitamin B and protein.
Miso is also used as a condiment, in meat or fish marinades, in sauces and even in desserts.
There are different varieties, each with its own aroma, flavor, color and texture.
Different varieties of miso
The varieties of this paste are infinite but there are three main ones which differ according to two criteria:
According to the ingredients which compose it:
- 1 Rice miso or “kome miso” or “genmai miso” “米味噌” is made from whole grain rice and fermented soy beans. It is the most common because it is the mildest. Its flavor is rich and light. It is the most common in Japan.
- 2 Soy miso or “hatcho miso” “八丁味噌” is made only with soybeans and salt. It is traditionally enjoyed in soups during the winter but can be used all year round.
- 3 Barley miso or “mugi miso” “麦味噌” is made with soybeans, rice, barley and salt. This one is mild aged from 18 to 24 months.Or according to its color:
- 1 Mugimiso “麦味噌” or “brown miso” is the traditional Japanese miso that is most commonly used in everyday life. Its neutral taste goes well with all kinds of ingredients especially, with vegetables, seaweed, and tofu.
- 2 Shiromiso “白味噌” or “white miso” is very mild and has a slight sweet taste. Its fermentation time is quite short (a few months), it contains the least amount of salt. It is used in many sauces and especially for marinating fish especially in Kanto cuisine.
- 3 Akamiso “赤味噌” or “red miso“: its taste is more pronounced and saltier than the brown and white pastes. Its fermentation time is longer (1 year minimum). It is often associated with seafood or vegetables such as shiso leaves or grilled vegetables. It is widely used in the Tokai region.
Its various origins in Japan :
The taste, aroma, texture and appearance of this paste vary according to region and season.
1 Karakuchi miso “米味噌”: a variety of light brown salted rice miso.
2 Chukara miso “米味噌”: a yellowish brown, medium-salty variety of rice miso.
3 Hatcho miso “八丁味噌”: This one is very black, it requires a long maturation time. It is much less sweet than the others.
4 Amakuchi miso “白味噌”: A variety of shiro-miso, it is light yellow and sweeter than rice miso.
5 Mugi miso “麦味噌”: This one is made of salted red barley.
Basically, the darker this paste is, the more dense and salty it is. It is possible to find some with a low salt content. You can also find in Asian grocery stores mixed miso: with dashi, with yuzu, with garlic… the best is to taste a little bit of everything and to choose according to your taste and recipes.
The taste of miso and its use
Miso is an excellent condiment but it remains very salty for the great majority of the cases, it is thus necessary to take care not to put too much of it. This paste has this famous taste “umami” which has the capacity to make the dishes more tasty and more balanced and round in mouth.
Its use is very easy as you just have to dilute it in your soups, sauces or other dishes.
This paste is part of many Japanese meals. It appears most often as the main ingredient of miso soup which is consumed daily by a large part of the Japanese population. Japanese rice and miso soup are considered a fundamental part of Japanese cuisine. This combination is part of the basis of a traditional Japanese breakfast.
This paste is used in many other types of soups and dishes, including ramen, udon, etc. Sometimes the names of these dishes have the prefix miso (e.g. miso-udon). Adding this paste to these soups gives them stronger and richer flavors.
Miso is also used in some traditional Japanese confectionery as a glaze. It can be found in miso dango. These famous little skewers originating from Kyoto and which can be found everywhere in Japan nowadays.
This paste keeps very well and for a long time as long as it is kept cool.
Put it in an airtight box after opening and it will keep for up to 1 year without any problem.
The controversial health benefits of miso
This paste has been around for centuries, originating in China and introduced to Japan in the 7th century and quickly became a staple of Japanese cuisine. Miso has been shown to be recommended as a remedy for cancer, difficult digestion, smoking, libido disorders and food allergies. Unfortunately, all these benefits are overshadowed by the high salt content of the product, which leads to many undesirable health effects. To be consumed with moderation…