Mysteries of Miso


Bowl of Miso Soup

Miso is a product of soybeans that are fermented with rice or barley.  It produces a high protein substance that is complex in flavor and offers a creamy texture.  It is best thought of as a component rather than as a stand alone food, because of its potent flavor and high salt content.  It actually is a category of foods, offering a broad range of flavors according to how it is fermented.  As a general rule of thumb, lighter miso is milder in flavor, and darker miso is richer according to how deep its color is. 

White miso has a higher rice content, and is the mildest. It is also fermented for the least amount of time.  Its flavor is milder and sweeter, making it perfect for salad dressings and light marinades.  

Yellow miso goes with almost anything.  Its moderate flavor comes from its heavy barley content.  It works well for soups, marinades, and glazes. 

Red miso has the longest fermentation time and the strongest flavor.  It comes in colors that range from red to a deep brown, almost black.  It can stand up well to stronger and meatier vegetables and heartier dishes. 

Miso can be easily blended into other foods using a blender, as it doesn't incorporate with oils easily.  It is also best to not boil miso, as it kills much of the aroma and flavor. 

Miso dressing is easy to make, particularly in a blender.  A little neutral oil such as canola, a drop of sesame oil, some rice vinegar, soy sauce and honey in a blender or food processor makes a simple and yet divine dressing that is both healthful and flavorful, making plain lettuce into something greater. 

A miso glaze can make a plain salmon steak or filet into a gilded jewel.  It can also be used for cod and other fish, and even eggplant.  

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