Friday, January 13, 2012

What in the world is...MISO?

With the popularity of sushi in America, you've probably had some miso soup, served up hot and topped with chopped scallions. How fun is miso soup? Is it the cute spoon you love? :) In my opinion, there is nothing better to eat/drink when you're feeling the onset of a cold. There is something really comforting about miso soup and it's SUPER easy to make. But what in the world is miso, anyway?

According to my trusty friends at Wikipedia, miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus kĊjikin, the most typical miso being made with soy. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup, a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. There is a very wide variety of miso available. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory.

Here is a simple miso salad dressing recipe from Whole Foods

3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons apple juice
3 tablespoons white miso paste
1 shallot, finely chopped

And another, from Whole Foods' "Heath Starts Here" campaign:

Tahini Miso Dressing

(this sauce can be drizzled over raw or cooked vegetables, as well as greens - COOL!)

1/4 cup water, plus more to taste
1 T mellow (light) miso
1/3 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 T finely chopped parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. For a thinner sauce, add more water. Cover and chill under ready to serve.

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