When I think about miso, I remember steaming bowls of soup at Japanese railway stations, an indescribably delicious ginger-miso salad dressing at a Japanese restaurant closer to home, and the first time I tasted miso-glazed cod, just a few years ago. Somehow, the words fermented soybean paste don't conjure up those same memories, though miso is nothing more than that: soybeans (or barley or rice) fermented with salt and kojikin, a type of fungus. (Oh, that doesn't make it sound better, does it?) Used as a seasoning and a soup base, miso comes in different colors (white, yellow, red), mild-flavored or stronger, slightly salty to very salty. You'll find it in the refrigerated aisle of Asian groceries and some supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Regular grocery stores in my area don't stock miso, so it isn't a permanent resident in my pantry. When I do have some, it's a wonderful treat. And because it's fermented, miso will stay fresh in my refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to one year.
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How to use miso:
Chopped miso salad
Miso-marinated sea bass
Japanese eggplants broiled with miso
Creamy salmon miso soup
Pumpkin chickpea salad with miso tahini orange dressing
Spicy miso marinated green asparagus
Ginger-maple-miso salad dressing
A light dressing for any green salad or grilled vegetables. Double the amount and keep some on hand in the refrigerator for several days. Makes 1/2 cup.
1 heaping Tbsp mild miso
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp grated ginger root
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil
Combine all ingredients except water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and whisk until smooth. Add water, whisking in a tablespoon or two at a time, until you reach the consistency of salad dressing you like (approximately 1/4 cup).
Salad dressing will keep for a week in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar. Shake the jar vigorously, or whisk the dressing, before using.
More recipes on Soup Chick:
Quick and easy miso soup
Other recipes that use miso:
Nobu black cod with miso, from Rasa Malaysia
Walnut miso noodles, from 101 Cookbooks
Miso chicken, from Just Bento
Japanese eggplants broiled with miso, from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Miso butterscotch spare ribs, from Habeas Brulee
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