. . . A JAPANESE ESSENTIAL
& COOKING ARTICLE
Flavors - Paste Sensation . . . spread healthy miso
throughout your diet
article has been published with the permission of
its author Yukari Pratt. Yukari writes for Tokyo`s
Metropolis magazine and for the The Japan Times. She
has contributed to the guidebook, Time Out Tokyo and
to Time magazine. Yukari has been profiled in GQ Japan
and The Daily Yomiuri. A Japanese food fanatic, whose
mother is Japanese, she is on a mission to bring the
food of Japan to as many people as possible.
hobbies include soaking in "onsen" hot springs,
drinking shochu, fly-fishing, and motorcycling.
is an essential part of any Japanese pantry and a key
component of dishes like mabodofu (tofu and ground meat),
dengaku tofu (grilled tofu with miso), miso ramen, Nobus
signature miso cod and, of course, miso soup. It can
be used in a myriad of ways, as a salad dressing, dip
or a pickling medium for fish and vegetables.
is made by fermenting soybeans and is rich in protein.
Its believed to help prevent cancer, heart disease
and liver disease; cure colds; aid digestion and improve
with red kome koji
comes in various forms: smooth, chunky, sweet, salty,
dark and light. Sendai miso is one of the most popular
types and can be used in a variety of recipes. From
Kyoto, there is white, sweet and silky Saikyo miso (aka
shiro miso), used for dressings and sauces more than
for soup. And from Aichi, the dense, dark, fudge-like
Hatcho miso is used mostly for miso soup and known for
its rich astringency. To soften the flavor, you can
blend Hatcho miso with white or yellow miso, a technique
department stores carry a selection of miso types, and
you can purchase small packages of about 100g. Miso
will keep in the fridge for up to a year, although miso
vendors sometimes suggest keeping it in the freezer.
If you are keen to incorporate miso soup into your daily
diet, then invest in a misokoshi strainer, which will
allow you to blend the miso into the broth, while holding
back the chunky bitsunless you like chewing your
miso and moromi miso are two particularly chunky varieties
filled with whole-grain barley or wheat and pickled
vegetables. They can be quite sweet and make a great
dip for crudité, such as morokyu, a typical izakaya
dish - crispy cucumber served with a slather of moromi
pre-packaged, concentrated miso soups that only require
you to add water are surprisingly good. For simple dressings
on salads or blanched greens, you can also buy various
types of packaged nerimiso, or miso that has been sweetened
and flavored with vinegar (sumiso) or walnuts (kurumi
miso) or sesame (goma miso).
is not limited to Japanese cuisine - it will add depth
to any dish, such as tomato sauce for pasta, stews,
gratins or chowders. Try adding a bit of miso to the
mayonnaise in your next potato salad. Miso packs a punch
and will add depth to your dishes.
FEW SAMPLE MISO RECIPES TO TRY AT HOME
(or Karashi sumiso)
1 tablespoon sake
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vinegar
This makes a good dressing for vegetables, especially
wakame and cucumbers.
a small sauté pan, combine the miso, sugar,
sake and water and stir over low heat until it thickens
to a paste.
to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
the vinegar and it is ready to use.
you like some heat in your dressings, add Japanese
karashi mustard to taste at this point.
tablespoons nerigoma sesame paste
50g Saikyo shiro miso
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
is an addictive dressing for blanched greens, such
as green beans or broccoli, and also makes for a creamy,
nutty salad dressing.
In a small sauté pan add the nerigoma, miso,
sugar and mirin and stir over low heat until it
thickens to a paste.
to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
will be quite thick at this point. You can soften
it up with some dashi.
the market you will find dashi-iri miso, which has
dashi already integrated into the miso, so making
miso soup at home could not be easier. Boil your chosen
ingredients in water until they soften, add the miso
and youre finished. (Be careful not to boil
the miso once it has been added.)
is almost no limit to what you can put into your miso
soup. Small clams (asari or shijimi) give the soup
the rich taste of the sea. A variety of seasonal vegetables
include potatoes, pumpkin, cabbage, bamboo shoots
or nameko mushrooms. Aburaage tofu, daikon and natto
are available year-round.
a hearty alternative, tonjiru is always satisfying,
packed with earthy gobo burdock root, pork and vegetables.
a soup pot combine carrots, potatoes, gobo, konnyaku,
shiitake mushrooms and green onions, all cut into
bite-size pieces. When the vegetables are soft, add
thinly sliced pork and dashi-iri miso. Sprinkle with
sesame oil and shichimi spice before serving.
21 August 2006
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