There is plenty of talk about the need to pamper friendly bacteria in our digestive tract. Maybe it’s the key to good health and longevity scientists say. In many cultures and in ours, people have been eating fresh fermented cabbage since ancient times, but how often do you eat such cabbage? Yes, we eat yogurt almost daily. Yogurts are nice, but I have another ingredient for you that is adept for a similar wide use, and that is miso. It is a very handy ingredient that will in a minute enrich your gastronomic experience. It stores well. It will last a long time. It is a great taste maker and if you like miso, you can have it as a meal itself. Do you have miso in your fridge at home? If not, top it up!
What is miso and how does it benefit health?
Miso is a fermented soybean product that will add novelty, pleasant taste and valuable probiotics to your food. The fermentation quality will beat even your anger. Because stress and poor diet may decrease useful bacteria. In addition, you will truly enjoy dishes with miso, because the umami taste in miso will provoke the tastes of everything you prepare with miso. You know the saying that salt is more valuable than gold. Similarly miso is above gold. But miso is a living organism, and when you choose, buy unpasteurized miso. Only then will you get all the benefits and gifts that miso offers. Bacteria from miso will provide you with help and friendship and you do not have to worry about any toxins. These beneficial bacteria produce important vitamins such as vitamin K or B12 in our stomachs during their lives. Together with enzymes, they create an environment that allows our body to prosper and maintain a good immune system. In addition, miso is a source of copper, magnesium and zinc. We need these minerals to an increased extent, especially now in the covid period.
You may be afraid that miso is made from soybeans, which can be compromising or unhealthy. Yes, it is difficult to keep track of where and how they were produced. But you don’t eat a lot of beans in miso, so I probably wouldn’t pay much attention to that. And I wouldn’t be afraid of salinity either. Conversely, if you salt your food to make it taste salty enough, you would have more salt there than if you used miso. Miso contains natural glutamate, which in itself provokes a salty taste. Even so, it is advisable to slow down in the salinity of the resulting dish.
Which miso to choose?
For beginners in the miso world, if you want to make mainly misoshiru soup, then choose mugi miso, where barley is added. It’s a little bready, and maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed this miso since day one in Japan. It is koubashii. Nice smell and well fermented. It is just fine salty and not too sweet. Much sweeter is white kome miso, where rice is added to soybeans. There is Kyoto type of white miso and is known as Saikyo miso. It is delicate, sweet and full in flavor. When we prepare it in Miyabi, the egg yolk also comes there. When you make misoshiru soup from a white sweet miso, I recommend adding a small heap of karashi mustard to balance the flavors. The sweet miso of almost cream color is especially suitable for the winter months. It warms up. It fits white daikon radish, taro potato or renkon lotus root. Of course, you don’t need to warm up in the summer, which is why dark miso is suitable for refined feasts such as ochai, even as dark as the haccho miso, which is made only from soybeans without the addition of any cereals. It is salty and it is the salinity that is combined with the feeling of cooling down. I would choose to add green asparagus or fresh fennel to the dark miso soup. It fits nicely. And definitely add tofu. Best the silk type. You may be tempted to put everything you have in the fridge in your misoshiru soup, but I would limit myself to a maximum of three ingredients. This is what the nun advised at Sankoin Monastery, where I learned to cook shoujin ryori. Also, be aware that the taste of miso soup will increase significantly when the basis is an honest dashi broth. You can find more in the ART OF JAPANESE SOUPS blog.
Of course, miso has a much wider use than just soups. When cooking, you can use any miso throughout the year, depending on what food you prepare and what taste you want to achieve. Every region and even every producer or every family has its own characteristic miso. Get from Japan kouji – spores of Aspergillus oryzae, mix your beans and cereals, let them ferment in the right conditions and you will have your homemade miso according to your desire. It will take more than two months at the earliest. I tried it too. The longer you leave, the miso will darken. I once forgot my miso in the cupboard, maybe more than two years, and it turned into a kind of black soy sauce. The differences when you know miso are great. So look for and find your favorite miso.
What can you do with miso?
To eat miso almost every day, which would be great, it is good to include misoshiru soup in your diet. I often add a cup of misoshiru, for example, even for my breakfast with bread. Salad dressings are also great. Try marinating fish and meat in a bowl for quick baking or grilling. Or just glaze. You can also add miso to biscuits. Miso creates there an interesting taste. And if you have high quality miso that is not very salty, cut fresh cucumbers and mix them with this miso. It is a wonderful food, simple and at the same time a delicacy. Because miso is indeed a delicacy.