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miso: literally hundreds of uses


Miso has long been one of the most popular spices in Japanese culture. It is made by fermenting rice and barley and also adding other seasoning such as salt and pepper. Soy is also a staple ingredient of miso and is what gives it the bitter like after taste that some love, while others can live without.

Miso has literally hundreds of culinary uses and is often utilized when in paste mixture as a base for soups. Additionally it is used to sauté vegetables, as an ingredient in sandwich spreads and to flavor meats.

One unique thing about miso is that its flavor and texture will vary greatly depending on how it is cultivated and what region it's served in. Usually salty in taste, the bitterness and salt will also vary depending on how it is prepared and what other ingredients are mixed with it.

Some of the most popular ingredients to incorporate into miso cultivation are soy, barley, rice, wheat and hemp and each of those things will alter the taste and texture of the miso when all is said and done.

Miso comes in a variety of flavors but the three most commonly consumed are:

Shiromiso, white miso

Akamiso, red miso

Awasemiso, mixed miso

Depending on the region each of these are more preferred than the other. In Western cultures the locals enjoy lighter versions such as Shiromiso, while in Eastern cultures the Akamiso is preferred.

Newer manufacturers are also getting inventive and crafty by adding chickpeas, corn and quinoa to their miso for a nice variation.

Along with the different types of miso, miso itself is further categorized into types based on their other main ingredients.

• Kome or rice miso is characterized by its pale yellow, white and red colors and is made primarily with soybeans.

• Mugi or barley miso is popular in Western regions of Japan and has a distinct and strong smell as well as a more bitter taste.

• Mame or soybean miso is always brown or tan in color and is the least sweet of all misos. It also takes the longest to harvest and mature.

• Chougou or mixed miso is usually combined with other types of miso to lessen the saltiness of them and bring about a milder, more enjoyable taste. This miso is also popular to add to some beers in Eastern Japan.

• Akamiso or red miso has to set for at least a year before it is consumed and is one of the most salty of all miso

• Shiromiso or white miso must cultivate for the least amount of time and is the mildest of all the miso. Made mostly from soybeans, it is often used in soups because of its thick consistency and mild taste, so it works well with a variety of other things within the soup and won’t compromise the taste when combined.

Miso itself hosts a lot of vitamins and minerals which are great for the body. Miso is high in vitamin B 12 and those made with soy also contain many antioxidants which can help balance the digestive system and keep the colon regulated. Miso however is very high in sodium (for every teaspoon there is approximately 300 grams of sodium) so those with high blood pressure or heart disease should eat it minimally.

Miso Recipes

Miso is enjoyed all over the world. Below are a few recipes to try and enjoy.

Miso Salad Dressing

1 cup of water

1 teaspoon of miso

½ teaspoon vinegar (regular or apple cider)

½ teaspoon of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and enjoy. You can add more or less water depending on the consistence you want.

Miso Cole Slaw

Mix ½ cup of miso with ½ teaspoon of each of the following: honey, lemon juice, Asian sesame oil, soy sauce, and minced ginger. Slowly add a bit of water to the mixture until you reach your desired consistency. The oil should also help to reach a dressing consistency. Then mix with cabbage or your choice of shredded lettuce for an amazing slaw dish!

Miso Encrusted Salmon

This is a great dressing for your next salmon dish that will keep people coming back for more.

Combine ½ cup of red miso with 1/3 teaspoon of mustard, 1/3 teaspoon of rice vinegar, ½ teaspoon of soy sauce and a pinch of brown sugar. Mix well and baste your salmon pieces. Bake or broil as usual for a tangy over coat and topping.

Vegetarian Miso Soup

•4 cups water

•1/3 cup miso

•3 green onions (scallions), chopped

•1 tbsp shredded nori or wakame seaweed

•1/2 block firm silken tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes •dash soy sauce (optional)

•1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Bring 4 cups of water to a low, but steady simmer and add seaweed. Let seaweed simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low and combine the remaining ingredients into the simmering water and continue to simmer until the miso dissolves entirely. Serve hot.



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