Welcome to a new series on Infinite Zest: Qu'est-ce que c'est? In this series, I will choose products that seem daunting or frivolous, that can actually be used in many different ways in your kitchen. If you have a suggestion or a product you're curious about, leave me a comment. Let's get started!
I. WHAT IS IT?
//Miso is a traditional Japanese paste made from fermenting soybeans with salt, fungi and other ingredients like chickpeas, brown rice or barley. There are many types of miso paste, but the three main categories are brown, white/yellow and red. Red has the most flavor, while white is the mildest and brown sits somewhere in the middle. Not all brands of miso are gluten-free, so be sure to check your ingredients when purchasing.
II. HOW DOES IT TASTE?
//Salty, bold, umami, slightly bitter, comforting.
III. WHY SHOULD I USE IT?
//Miso, and most fermented foods, have tons of nutritional benefits. It is claimed to be a high source of B12 and is good to eat when you are sick. However, miso does contain quite a bit of salt, so please avoid miso if you have issues sodium or use it sparingly. I usually leave salt out of a recipe that uses a decent amount of miso.
IV. WHAT KIND SHOULD I USE?
//Depending on your tastes, miso comes in a variety of flavors with varying levels of "strength". My favorite brand that I stick by is Miso Master because it is local to NC (Asheville) and the flavor is always wonderful. I have tried both the chickpea and brown rice miso, and they're both great. Brown rice has a stronger flavor, so I use less in recipes but the chickpea is mild. When recipes call for miso paste, they are usually referring to yellow/white miso paste (or chickpea) because it's mild. However, there are some recipes that specifically call for red miso paste because of the strength of its flavor. Miso costs about $8 a tub, but it will last you at least a year, depending on how much you use it.
V. HOW DO I USE IT?
//There are literally hundreds of different ways to use miso paste! Pictured above is my personal favorite: miso soba noodle soup. One of my other favorite ways is to roast winter vegetables in a miso dressing: this one is with sesame and this one is with harissa. It's also a great ingredient for salad dressings to make a bold flavor, or mix it with vegan mayo and lemon juice for a delicious aioli to eat with fries. Miso paste is not just for Asian food, so try it in different ways! Here are some more ideas from around the Web:
-miso sweet potato + broccoli bowl//Smitten Kitchen
-miso roasted Brussels Sprouts//Fo'Reals Life
-creamy vegan miso alfredo//Vegan Yack Attack
-carrot soup with miso + sesame//Smitten Kitchen
-salmon en papillote with miso butter//Wild Greens and Sardines
Still have questions? Leave a comment below!