BBC - Food - Miso recipes:
Miso paste is a hugely useful pantry staple.
Miso, like yogurt, is a live food packed with bacteria that’s good for you.
The are lots of varieties of miso.
When buying miso, choose the unpasteurised, live, enzyme-rich product that will need to be stored in the fridge.
This type is loaded with beneficial microorganisms.
After opening, the texture, colour and flavour may change so keep an eye on it.
Some can be kept for quite a long time without any concerns or variations to quality.
The range of miso varieties available can be daunting for the novice buyer, but many supermarkets and most specialist shops in Britain will stock a basic selection.
The most common types are:
- Light-yellow miso (Shinshu miso), which ranges in colour from light yellow to yellow-brown.
It's the most common type of miso and is relatively mild in flavour.
It's very versatile and can be used in all types of dishes.
- Red miso (often sold as aka miso), which actually ranges from red to dark brown in appearance and has a strong, salty flavour.
It too is very versatile and suited to all types of dishes, from soup to dressings and dips and in cooked dishes.
- Sweet white miso (usually sold as shiro miso) is sweeter and lighter in taste, colour and texture.
It's always smooth in texture and is more suited to use in salad dressings, spreads and marinades.
It's fermented for a much shorter time (two to eight weeks) than other miso types, which are usually fermented for three years or more.
- Light-yellow or red miso should not be substituted in recipes that call for sweet white miso.
- Another type of miso, called hatcho miso, is perhaps the most highly regarded (and expensive) miso.
This rich, dark, thick variety is made only from soya beans and a special type of koji.
Other types you might see are mugi miso, which is made from barley and soya beans.
It often has a chunky texture and is good in soups and stews.
Genmai miso (brown rice miso), made from brown rice and soya beans, has a rich, earthy, slightly nutty flavour.
Korean grocers will sell a spicy type of bean paste called kochu jang (or gochujang), which is flavoured with red chilli and is great for giving a kick to sauces and marinades.
Miso, particularly the darker styles, can be kept in the refrigerator for months.
The exception is sweet white miso: once opened, the flavour will deteriorate quite rapidly so it should be used quickly.
Sweet white miso is perfect for flavouring light soups.
When cooking miso soup or miso-based stews, add the miso at the end of cooking time or the heat will cause it to lose some of its flavour.
Avoid boiling miso soup after the miso's added.
Miso can also be used on its own as a paste to marinate meat, fish or vegetables.
The pungent, salty, and almost earthy quality of red miso is ideal for marinating, and for adding to hearty stir-fries or stews.
Diluted with water, miso makes a flavourful bouillon or stock base for soups, sauces, gravies and stews.
- A fermented paste made from soya beans and rice, barley, wheat or rye, used in Japanese and South East Asian cookery.
It imparts a deeply savoury, rich intensity to any dish that's cooked with it, from a classic miso soup to marinated and grilled fish, fowl or vegetables.
Mix it with olive oil and mustard for an instant protein-packed dressing, and add a squeeze of lemon and a dash of rice wine for a marinade for fish, veg or chicken.
While miso is famous for its starring role in miso soup, it’s also wonderfully versatile in its application; as a marinade, sauce or dressing.
10 tips for cooking with miso!
- Never boil miso soup
The delicate balance of flavours and some key nutritional benefits are destroyed on boiling miso.
When making miso soups or noodle soups, always cook all the ingredients in boiling hot vegetable or chicken stock first, without the miso.
When ready to serve, turn off the heat before stirring in the miso, just before serving.
- Always wipe marinades off before cooking
Miso makes a wonderful marinade but as it’s primarily made from soya beans it doesn’t melt, in fact it has a tendency to burn.
- Slowly dissolve miso paste into soups and broths
Miso is a stubborn sort of ingredient that doesn’t melt or thin down quickly.
This means that if you stir it in as some recipes suggest, you may end up with grainy lumps, especially with misos that are robust in texture.
Drop the miso into a ladle and lower it to the surface of the broth, allow some of the hot liquid into the ladle.
Vigorously stir in the miso, inside the ladle, until it has thinned down and is smoother.
Lower the ladle again and thin the miso down further.
Repeat until the miso has the same consistency as the soup.
- Thinning Miso for dressings and sauces
Unlike many other salad dressings where you can throw everything into one bottle and shake it, miso remains lumpy if dealt with in this way.
Thin the miso first by mixing it thoroughly with one of the liquids in the dressing first.
- Miso and tomatoes are a winning combination
- Always have mirin and sake in your stores
- Miso sauces
Lovely with fatty meat and oily fish dishes, but even better when cut with a citrus flavour.
Try red miso and orange, barley miso and lemon, and white miso with lime.
- Nasu dengaku (miso grilled aubergine) recipe - olive:
- Smoky miso aubergines recipe - olive:
I've bought the Clearspring miso soup from Sainsbury.
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