Back in episode 176 we talked about the amazing benefits of fermented foods. One of the foods we discussed back then was miso.
This latest episode of the Vegetarian Zen is all about miso. I had no clue about miso until I became a vegetarian; I didn’t even know it existed! This is a great example of how becoming a vegetarian expanded my food choices and experiences. You can listen to our discussion here…
…or read on below for a quick summary.
What is Miso?
Miso is a fermented paste made of soybeans, a grain (such as rice or barley), and a mold called koji.
Enzymes in the koji work together over weeks (and sometimes years) with microorganisms in the environment to break down the structure of the beans and grains into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars.
Most miso is made in Japan, where it has been used since the eighth century or earlier.
According to the Japan Miso Promotion Board (yes, there is such a thing!), there are over 1300 kinds of miso, but the two most common are sweet white miso and red miso.
What Does It Taste Like?
The taste really depends on the type of miso.
Some varieties are more fruity or sweet.
Other varieties have a salty umami flavor. Because of this, it makes a great addition to recipes that traditionally call for meat.
Generally, the darker the color the more it has aged, and the saltier and earthier flavor it has.
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Is Miso Good for You?
The answer to this is a resounding YES! It’s a great source of various B vitamins, vitamins E and K, and folic acid. Because it’s a fermented food, it’s also great for your belly. It provides beneficial bacteria (probiotics) to your gut to promote both physical and mental well-being.
How Can You Use Miso?
Soup is probably the most common way people use miso, but it has other uses as well.
One great thing about miso is that it doesn’t need to be cooked. This means that you can stir it right into your favorite glazes, marinades, or dressings.
Some recipe ideas:
Vegan cream cheese
Vegan ranch dressing
Where Do I Find Miso?
The good news is, you can find miso in most grocery stores these days (check the international foods aisle). Depending on the type, it may also be found in the refrigerated or produce sections.
How Should I Store Miso?
Covered and in the fridge is the best way to preserve flavor and protect against oxidation. You can also press some parchment paper or plastic wrap over the top under the lid to help keep the air out.
15-Minute Miso Soup with Greens by...