I have been experimenting with miso lately as an ingredient to add that “je ne sais quoi” to some of my dishes. The Japanese might be rather annoyed that I used a French description for their salty-savory and a tad sweet condiment, but I am merely trying to get across that it just adds that little something extra to even the most ordinary dishes. So, I must ask for forgiveness in using that French expression and instead give a bow of gratitude to the Japanenese for sharing it with us!
(By the way — yes, miso is primarily a Japanese condiment; but it originally came from China. The Chinese turned to fermentation to preserve soybeans and then the Japanese greatly improved upon the idea.)
WHY MISO IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Miso is a great flavor enhancer but that is not all. Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider using miso for your health, too:
- Depending on the type of miso, it can provide a wide variety of phytonutrients to help with inflammation.
- Miso has probiotic properties to support the body’s digestive and immune systems as well as the absorption of nutrients.
- Studies have also shown that frequent consumption of miso may be associated with decreased risk of stomach cancer and breast cancer as well as reduce the effects of radiation exposure, particularly the darker miso.
TYPES OF MISO
The terms used and the information on miso can be confusing. I try to not get too hung up on that but generally, here are the three primary types of miso you should be able to find:
1. Shiro miso, or white miso, is pale beige to white in color, creamy and the mildest of the three with a sweet flavor. Made from rice and soybeans, it’s fermented for the shortest amount of time. It is considered the most versatile of the three and the best to start with probably if beginning to use miso in your cooking.
2. Yellow miso, or sometimes referred to as Shinshu miso, is usually a bit darker in color than the white and is also a bit saltier. Made from rice and soybeans, it’s typically fermented longer than white miso.
3. Red miso is reddish-brown in color and has the strongest flavor. It can be very salty and has the longest fermentation.
Just remember: the darker the color, the stronger the taste and the longest fermentation.
OTHER TIPS FOR USING MISO
1. Be sure to get miso that is made from soybeans that are organically grown and not genetically modified to avoid pesticide exposure. Look for the USDA organic seal or look for the words “certified organic” or “organic certified” on the label.
2. Unpasteurized miso has the best probiotic activity if that is important to you (hope it is!). It is typically sold refrigerated in glass jars or plastic containers. While pasteurized miso is fine regarding flavor, the pasteurization process reduces the health benefits of miso.
9 WAYS TO USE MISO TO CREATE AMAZING MEALS
You may have had miso soup but that miso can do oh so much more! Tap on some of these links to some great ways you can easily enhance your food and bring a special spark to your cooking:
3. Try my easy, nutritious and delicious roasted red pepper sauce that can create dinner for you all week!
7. The colors of this snow peas and carrots salad would be stunning.
8. I stirred a bit of miso in a spicy orange marmalade pan sauce I made recently. But look at this apricot jam using the same idea.
9. You really should try this miso with poached egg and greens I made this week. It was quick, yummy and satisfying! I will definitely be making this again mixing up the vegetables that I have on hand.
Are you experimenting with miso too? Do you have a favorite recipe to share? Please do in the comments.
- Here are some great ways to enhance your cup of jo or tea in the morning.
- Besides miso, add a tablespoon or two of these other healthy condiments as well to make your food taste great.