Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

How to use Miso

A surprise food

Miso is quite possibly one of the the most well known Japanese food in the world. When japanese food boomed around the world in the later part of the twentieth century, miso became a household name and hundreds of millions of people developed a love for something that we all take for granted, miso soup. It is ironic then that with something so well ingrained into our lives, that many people really only know one use for it, in the form of soup, but fascinatingly enough, this is a base ingredient with possibilities that only the stars can rival, miso paste has a brilliant savoury taste that goes extremely well with a great range of meats, fish and vegetables and can be used to add something special to a dish. Letfs look a little at miso and itfs various uses in the kitchen and learn some great dishes to give a try.

 

So what is miso exactly? In itfs standard form, miso is fermented soy beans. The key ingredient to miso is soy beans, but in actual fact miso can be made from almost anything. In fact itfs possible to find miso products made from combinations of soybeans, rice, wheat, buckwheat, barley and millet. Soybeans are fermented together with salt and a fungus for days to create a thick and strong tasting paste called miso. Most of us are familiar with a dark brown coloured miso but in actual fact there are many variations on miso, each being a difference in the base ingredients, fermentation times as well as cooking methodology.

 

Miso is fermented over a really long period of time which creates a very strong tasting and salty product. This process of fermentation doesnft just create a unique and delicious flavoured paste, one of the spin offs is the creation of many ggoodh bacterias that help the stomach. Like other fermented products such as Natto (fermented soybeans), miso has bacteria that the stomach needs to improve itself. It is said by some professionals that miso can actually help to prevent womenfs risk of breast cancer and control estrogen in womenfs bodies. Miso has lots and lots of fibre too. It contains lots of dietary fibre which really helps to keep our digestive systems healthy. Miso helps the body to produce digestive fluids that the stomach needs and is said to strengthen our blood also. Rest assured that miso is good for us, not only does it help out stomachs, but it also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol from the wakame seaweed contained in it and contains loads of zinc which strengthens our immune systems.

A surprising food

Right, now that we know miso ticks all the health boxes, letfs get cooking and make some super dishes! First off the list is the classic dish, the simple yet staple miso soup. Miso soup is made nowadays in one of two ways. For those that use it frequently, tubs of miso are bought from the shops and kept in the fridge, because itfs a fermented product, these can be kept for months after opening. To make a simple soup dish, all one has to do is, boil some water in a pot, scoop out some miso paste from the miso tub, add it to the water and stir it in and we have made miso soup. Add higher concentrations of miso paste to make a stronger tasting soup, and less to lighten it up of course. Many Japanese people simply have this form but frequently other ingredients are added. Most often, wakame seaweed is sprinkled in, and often an egg is stirred in. Adding chopped tofu (another great variation on how to use soy beans) in is also good as well. One piece of advice with miso soup is to always add the miso paste in right at the end and then take off the heat. The reason for this is because if you heat it for too long, many of the ggoodh bacterias that help our stomachs will be killed thus reducing some of the key health benefits to this dish.

 

Now letfs get creative. As wefve mentioned, miso has a very strong and salty flavour and this makes it great for smearing on meat and fish and frying or grilling. One great dish that does just this is grilled miso and mayo fish. To make it, buy some Japanese mayonnaise and pre mix it with the miso, lay out a fillet of fish (any kind is fine, just pick one you like of course) then smear the paste all over the fish. Put this in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the miso has started to brown. The result is a delicious tasting fish dish that goes especially well with white rice and vegetables. As a variation on this theme, try sprinkling some breadcrumbs over the miso and mayo smeared fish to add a crunchy finish to it.

 

Another good use of miso with seafood is a dish called miso muscles. To make this, pre boil some muscles, remove them from the pot and line them on a baking tray in their shells. Scoop out small dollops of miso paste and smear them on the muscles. Put them under the grill for a few minutes to create a delicious miso muscle dish with a very rich and intense flavour that is a must for muscle lovers.

 

Miso is great raw too. One of the simplest and healthiest dips is just miso itself. To try something different the next time you have guests over, why not put a small portion of miso in a small bowl, pre chop thin slices of carrots and celery. The combination of the crisp and healthy vegetables with the rich salty miso is a real winner and most people have to try it.

 

Miso is a great food and can be used to make great dishes. Whether we boil it in water with other ingredients, smear it on meat and fish and fry, bake or grill or just eat it raw with vegetables, itfs great for you and tastes terrific. If youfve never tried these dishes before, why not give one a go and try something different, I hope you like it.