It’s All About the Miso

Feeling a little full after the Thanksgiving holiday?  How about reaching for a bowl of miso soup for a light meal instead of putting that brick back into your stomach by filling yourself with leftovers.  Miso not only serves as an ingredient to make a quick and easy soup, but it also serves as a natural health enhancer that will boost your immune system for the next forthcoming holidays.

Similar to yogurt, miso contains probiotics that help aid in digestion.   It’s particularly beneficial to vegans because of the naturally significant amounts of vitamins K and B12 that it provides.  It also contains the immune-boosting trace mineral zinc, as well as iron, copper, and manganese.  Let’s take a closer look at this nutrient-packed flavor enhancer.

What exactly is miso? Miso is a paste that originated in Japan that is made from grinding fermented soybeans and usually another grain, such as soybeans or rice.  It’s texture is similar to peanut butter- whether chunky or creamy depends on the variety you choose.  It has a salty taste and can often provide a unique and healthy twist as a replacement for salt.

Why use miso? If the nutrient info. above wasn’t enough to convince you to buy some miso, there are also numerous studies that have shown that miso is an advantageous ingredient.  For instance, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, miso has been linked to reducing breast cancer by as much as 50%. It has been said that miso helps to regulate the hormone in women known as oestrogen, a hormone that can cause tumors to develop.

I see a handful of varieties in the store.  Are there differences between these types of miso?

Yes.  Each type contains variances in the duration of fermentation time, and each will offer slight differences in taste and texture.

Below are some details about a few of the varieties of miso.

White Miso: White miso is typically made from a 60:40 ratio of white rice and whole soybeans.  It has a short fermentation time of approximately 3-5 weeks.  Of all the misos, white miso has one of the smoothest textures and contains the sweetest and mildest taste.  It’s perfect for salad dressings and light soups.

Red Miso: Red miso is also made from a combination of soybeans and white rice but contains a higher concentration of soybeans than white miso, giving it it’s deep red color.  It is typically fermented for a 1-3 year period.  Red miso has the highest content of protein out of all the miso varieties.   It’s taste is stronger than that of white miso and is typically used in stir-fries, soups, and marinades.

Barley Miso: Barley miso mainly consists of soybeans and barley.  Since it doesn’t contain white rice, barley miso has the darkest color of all the misos.  It’s fermentation period is similar to red miso’s and is typically between 1 to 3 years.  The closer the fermentation time is to 3 years, the deeper the color and richer the flavor will be.  It has a robust flavor and is often used in sauces, heavier soups, and rich bean dishes.

Chickpea Miso: Chickpea miso is a great alternative for those who are sensitive to soy.  It is generally made from a combination of brown rice and chickpeas and is aged from 1-3 months.  It’s texture leans on the side of resembling chunky peanut butter, rather than creamy like white miso.  In fact, it often contains whole or pieces of chick peas.  It’s flavor is stronger than white miso but still relatively mild and sweet.  Chickpea miso is also great for spreads, dressings, soups, and dips.

If you’re legs and mind are burnt out from Thanksgiving cooking and your stomach is burnt out from Thanksgiving eating, try a simple miso-centered recipe for your next meal.  Miso soup can be whipped up in no time, or try making a variation of tea by simply disolving a teaspoon of the variety of your choice into a cup of hot water.  Enjoy.

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No Comments

  • Reply
    November 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

    The chickpea miso sounds interesting and good. I wish i could get some of that. I don’t even know if I have seen miso for sale around here.

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    November 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I’ve never bought miso before -this is great to know – thanks!

  • Reply
    Allie (Live Laugh Eat)
    November 28, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    I always see this section at Whole Foods and wonder what it is! Thanks for the info!

  • Reply
    November 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Wow, I was entirely wrong on what I thought miso was. Thank you for this!

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    November 29, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Great information about Miso!! I do have a question for you, how is it different than soybeans? I mean, they say too much SOY for women who have had breast cancer or who are at risk, is not good. But would Miso have the same effect? I would think so.

    I really enjoy miso and the “umami” taste tha tI associate with it 🙂 Yum!

    • Reply
      November 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

      Yes, there are tons of conflicting studies about soy and possible harms from eating too much. The fermentation of the soybeans gives miso beneficial properties when it comes to breast cancer. It appears that these properties outweigh the potential harms of soy. Many Japanese even recommend drinking a cup of miso “tea” everyday.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Oh thanks for the differentiations between the misos. Good to know!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2009 at 2:18 am

    I love Miso, I put it in almost everything; soup, salad, fried rice even veggie dip, YUM! Thanks for the info:)

  • Reply
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    najbolji rulet sistem
    December 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Damn, that sound’s so easy if you think about it.

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