Soybean Paste – MISO


Among all the world’s soups, miso soup is the simplest and quickest to prepare. It is also very versatile; The ingredients can vary among seasonal garden vegetables, sea vegetables, tofu and tofu products, fish, shellfish, chicken, and pork. Depending on the ingredients and preparation techniques you choose, you can make your miso soup simple and lean or rich and smooth.

Miso Ingredients:

  • 1tablespoon instant-form wakamesea vegetable, soaked in
    cold waterfor 2 minutes, thendrained
  • 2’f cupsdashi (fish stock)
  • 3 to4 tablespoons Saikyo miso (sweet white miso)
  • 7 ounces (‘/^ block) firm or soft tofu, cut into ffinch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons thin scallion disks, both green and white

Just before servingtime, bring the fish stock to a boil in a medium pot. Reduce the heat to Ld moderate, add the miso, and stir until it dissolves. Add the tofu, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wakame and scallions, and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove the pot from the heat, and serve the soup immediately.
• Yields 3 to 4 servings

MiSO • Soybean Paste

Miso is a salty, fermented soybean paste that resembles nut butters in texture but is not oily. One of the most representative, everyday Japanese dishes, misoshiru, or miso soup, is made by combining this paste with dashi, fish stock. Many Westerners can’t imagine break fast without coffee; miso soup plays a similar role in the Japanese diet, although the actual consumption of this soup at breakfast has declined as people have come to prefer a quick
Western-style meal. However, the fragrant aroma of freshly made miso soup from the kitchen at any time of day announces to diners that “the meal is ready!”

Secret Of Miso

What makes miso so integral to Japanese life? The answer is its deep, rich flavor and exceptional nutritional value. The use of miso in Japanese cuisine is not limited to soup, but is very diverse. Miso is used to create delicious marinades, dressings, and sauces, and to provide a unique taste in stir-fried and simmered dishes. Recently, many creative chefs out side Japan have begun to adopt miso into their Western preparations. Let’s discover miso by examining its traditional production at a family-owned hundredyear- old factory, Yamaki Jozo, in Saitama Prefecture, 80 kilometers northwest of Tokyo. The president of Yamaki Jozo, Mr. Kitani, is known as the mentor and sponsor of organic farm ers in his region. His factory makes akamiso (brown miso) from organically grown soybeans
and grains, sea salt, and spring water.


At the end of the manufacturing process, the paste is usually heat-treated to stop fer mentation and prevent further changes in quality. But in non-heat-treated miso, or namamiso, the natural enzymes remain functioning, and fermentation continues during storage. Therefore, non-heat-treated miso is packed in a plastic bag with a tiny hole through which the miso can emit carbon dioxide during continuing fermentation. The best miso is alive, says Mr. Kitani of the Yamaki Jozo factory.

Miso was once made in many households in Japan. When I was a child, my mother’s distant relatives living in the country still made homemade miso, and they frequently sent us a portion. I remember that it was a very salty miso. Such indi vidual variations in flavor were a source of great pride for each home, and the expression Temaemiso desu, ga (“I do not want to boast about my miso, but. . .”) was bornfrom this pride.This expression, a very Japanese kind of metaphoric apology, is still used as a preface when people discuss their own or a family member’s success or accomplishment. “I do not want to brag about my miso,” a parent might say, “but my daughter was just accepted by Harvard University.”

WHAT TO LOOK FOR Soybean Paste

Miso is pacKed in plastic bags or plastic containers. To distinguish brown miso, white miso, and soybean miso, study the color and texture. Also check the salt content, which is usually displayed on the package label.


After Opening a package of miso, store it in the refrigerator, covered. Brownmiso keeps for three to four months after opening without significant quality changes, soy  bean miso for twelve months. Saikyo miso, sweet white miso, is best consumed within threeweeks after the package is opened. Beyond these periods miso will not spoil, but its flavor and nutritional value will diminish greatly. Soybean miso, which contains less water becomes hard after long months of storage.

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