The Wonders of Miso

When a friend and reader asked me to do a post on miso paste, I happily obliged; miso was on my grocery list and miso soup was on this week’s menu!

Miso paste is used in Asian cooking that is made from rice and/or soy and can be used as the base for soups and dressings. A 13 ounce tub can be on the pricey side, I paid a little more than $6, but I buy a tub one about every two years, so you never have to worry about it going bad. It adds a nice nutty flavor to whatever you are cooking. It is fairly salty, so be sure to taste before adding any additional salt. You can buy it in white or brown rice; I usually buy white or yellow, but this time I bought brown, since the only difference on the label was a lower sodium content.

I used miso in my recipe for Asian Chicken Salad, found here. It adds a really nice flavor to the chicken, pasta, ginger, and scallions.

Another recipe I make with it is salad dressing. Many a summer evening when we’re starving and need to eat NOW, I place some cooked steak or chicken on top of some greens with tomatoes and scallions, and whisk up the dressing to put on top. Mince some garlic and place in a bowl, add about a teaspoon of miso paste, and the juice of a lemon until it is thin. Add freshly grated pepper and taste test to make sure the flavors are all balanced. Serve and eat!

But of course, the most popular way to use miso is to make soup. Here is a recipe given to me by a co-worker years ago. It’s always been my go-to recipe when I’m in the mood for this soup. This recipe is incredibly inexpensive, flexible,  and forgiving; I usually mince my ginger, and frequently leave out the seaweed. You can add other veggies if you want or leave out the veggies and just add onion and tofu. Or leave out the tofu completely and just have veggies. Any way you make it, it’s going to be delicious and warm on a cold December’s day! And this is the last soup recipe, at least for a couple of weeks!

Miso Soup
Place two or three strips of wakame (or other kind of seaweed) in very hot water to soak. Gently simmer 6 cups of water and two tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce can be substituted. Use gluten-free tamari if needed). Add 1 carrot julienned (you can cut baby carrots into fourths), 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, and 1 cup thinly sliced onion. Add diced tofu, if desired. Drain wakame, chop, and add to broth. Gently simmer for 30 minutes.

Using two tablespoons of miso, make a paste with a small portion of the broth. Add the paste to the soup and stir. Continue to simmer gently for a few more moments. Added touches: chopped fresh scallions, roasted sesame seeds just before serving.

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Any of you who have read the page about my favorite cooks know I adore Mark Bittman. So imagine my surprise when I read he was in Vermont on Black Friday! He was in Burlington with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at the Intervale, a community supported farm. He writes about his experience here. A dream of mine is to cook for Mr. Bittman, so maybe next time he’s in town, he can come south about 30 minutes!

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2 thoughts on “The Wonders of Miso

  1. Thanks for the great introduction to Miso. I’ve only used it once in a dressing and have had it in soup and other Asian food. I really need to broaden my ingredients and you’re helping me on my way.

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