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What is Miso Paste?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/14/2012 2:00 PM   :  9 comments   :  8,120 Views

Though it's just been available for a few years here, miso paste has been around for centuries. Though the first iteration, made in China almost two millennia ago, was made from fish bones, it was used much in the same way it is today. The ingredients have changed (thank goodness!) and miso today is made from fermented rice, barley, soy beans and even my favorite, buckwheat.  Though its primary flavor is salty, miso can be very subtle or complex with fruity, salty, and umami notes.  The darker the miso the more flavor and depth it will add to the dish. 
 
Miso, like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, contains probiotics, which aid digestion by creating microbial balance in the GI tract. Those delicate probiotics lose their effectiveness if miso is boiled. 
 
I often use in the raw state or in cooked dishes that require shorter cooking times.   I prefer to use miso in place of salt in lots of my dishes, such as  salmon, mushrooms, chicken, whole wheat pasta or even eggs. 
 
What about nutrition? Isn't miso high in sodium ? One tablespoon or so is all you really need to impart a rich, salty flavor--for 30 calories and 1/2 gram fat.
The sodium levels vary by brands, from 330 mg to 880 mg. Read labels and choose one that suits your dietary needs.
 
Where do you buy it? Miso is found in the refrigerated section at the supermarket. You can buy it at most large grocery stores, in the health food section.
 
How to store it? Once opened store in your refrigerator just like mustard or ketchup.  Once opened it will keep for up to one year. 
 
How do you use it?

At my house, we love it:
  • mixed with olive oil and spread on toasted bread instead of butter
  • swirled into soups
  • tossed with steamed green beans for a creamy sauce consistency
  • combined with grated carrots, vinegar, and olive oil for vinaigrettes
  • added to stews to boost flavor 
My favorite is to use as a marinade for quick cooking seafood dishes.  You will love my recipe for Orange Miso Grilled Salmon. You will also love Stepfanie's  Super Miso Soup.
 
Other great miso recipes:Have you ever used miso?

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Comments

  • AMBER461
    9
    I never heard of miso but if I see it here at our supermarkets I will try it. - 5/17/2012   7:06:35 PM
  • 8
    I first heard of miso paste a few days ago, on a rerun of "Extreme Homes." A man built his family's home using five miso barrels as a primary design element: they provide five rooms (such as kitchen, bathroom, guest bedroom, et al) at the corners of the five-sided house. The walls look like a log cabin. The area in the center is a huge open living room; up above are the bedrooms (they have two sons).

    Oh, did I mention the whole house is UP in a TREE?!
    It's truly amazing! When the Mom of the family made lunch, she used miso paste to show the host what the barrels had held. When asked how they eliminated the strong smell, she said, "He (her husband) washed them a LOT!" The house is in Japan; the Dad's a Scotsman, who came on vacation and never went back.

    Miso paste - just one more way Spark connects us to the rest of the world!

    - 5/15/2012   2:48:08 PM
  • 7
    I love it. I have soup everyday at lunch and a miso packet is used at least twice per week. We can get it in pre measured packets, which makes it super easy. - 5/15/2012   5:51:39 AM
  • 6
    I don't know where the author is from but my parents made miso soup back in the 70's. As for the taste, I make a broth with kombu seaweed and fish flakes. It's called Dashi. The miso definitely needs help, adding it to water or broth won't cut it. It is a good thing, and I should probably add it back to my diet in a regular way. - 5/15/2012   12:12:54 AM
  • 5
    Its OK I tried Miso soup didn't really care for it. - 5/14/2012   9:55:25 PM
  • 4
    I love miso. It's a staple in my house and always has been given that my family is Asian-American. I love using miso because it's one of those pairs well with almost everything type foods. And if I don't have time to cook, I throw in whatever leftovers I've got lying around, add some miso, and have instant delicious miso sopu. - 5/14/2012   9:39:12 PM
  • 3
    I made the best miso soup the other day! Dashi, red miso, tofu, and loads of roasted veggies. I wanted a creamy soup so I pureed the whole mixture, then topped with a couple of dashes of fish sauce and sesame oil. - 5/14/2012   9:12:38 PM
  • 2
    I love Miso soup - it's so good for you, so it's no wonder why it's nicknamed the 'thousand year soup' because it'll (according to myth) let you last that long. - 5/14/2012   4:18:14 PM
  • 1
    I LOVE Miso... I use it to make a healthy sauce in exchange for not-so-healthy dipping sauces... also as soup. And it lasts forEVER in your fridge! - 5/14/2012   2:26:58 PM

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