by Georgia Rounder
As one of the less widely known soy products, miso is becoming more widely used in sauces and dressings found in restaurants and on store shelves. Miso ginger salad dressing anyone? Yum! Miso’s Asian umami flavor profile makes it a wonderful condiment and ingredient in many recipes, and here’s some info on how to use this versatile fermented ingredient at home.
WHAT IS MISO?
Miso is a traditional Japanese condiment, either sold as a paste or powder, made with fermented soybeans. It is typically savory and salty, but the flavor profiles all depend on the different types of beans used, as well as additional ingredients such as rice or barley, and the fermentation process.
Miso can be added to a variety of soups, dressings, sauces, dips and marinades, providing rich flavors and colors. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, over the centuries miso has played an important nutritional role in Japan.
Because of its amazing umami saltiness, it goes surprisingly really well with sweet pairing such as chocolate. Nestle even sells a miso-flavored KitKat bar in Japan! Stateside, Virginia-based Gearharts Fine Chocolates offers amazing miso caramels. And, for at-home bakers, the Wall Street Journal recently wrote a great article about using “Miso in Dessert: A Secret Weapon in Sweet Recipes,” with some wonderfully sweet recipes of their own, including scrumptious miso brownies and even a raspberry miso cheesecake.
HOW IT’S MADE AND WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU
After being soaked and cooked, soybeans are mashed into a thick paste, which is then placed into a specific type of container that allows the fermentation process to begin.
The fermentation of the miso activates many beneficial phytonutrients. These compounds, found in many soy-based products, are helpful agents in preventing the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Phytonutrients also serve to boost the immune system and provide anti-aging properties. The soy protein composition of miso aids in regulating cardiovascular health, as well.
When added to recipes, miso provides a quality source of fiber and protein, which together provide sustained energy throughout the day. Miso is also high in healthy enzymes and gut-supporting bacteria.
Myth: I can only purchase one type of miso at the market.
Truth: This soy product comes in many different forms, with each offering unique textures, colors and flavors. The various types include white, yellow, red, and hatho, which vary in length of fermentation, ratio of salt to soybean content, and the addition of rye or barley ingredients. Find out more about the different types of miso on our product sheet here.
Here are a couple easy-to-make recipes feature fresh, bright ways to use miso with fresh seasonal ingredients!
Lemon Miso Dressing
from United Soybean Board
Mushroom Leek Miso Soup
from United Soybean Board
- “Miso” (The World’s Healthiest Foods)
- “Make Miso” (Soya- Information about Soy and Soya Products)
- “Phytonutrient Rich Foods: Add Color to Your Palate” (Dana Farber/Brigham and Woman’s Cancer Center)
- “What are Phytonutrients?” (Dr. Frank Lipman)