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.