What is Miso?
Understanding Miso is like understanding wine, no two Cabernets or Shiraz taste the same. It is the same with Miso, one white Miso from one Miso Maker will taste different to a white Miso from any other Miso Maker. And just like wine, there are some Miso that are mass produced with an anomalous flavour profile while others are crafted by artisan makers in small batches to the highest standards.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from koji (inoculated rice, barley or soybeans), soybeans and salt. There are lots of different types of Miso and some of the names can be confusing, we’ve put together a quick guide to Miso below to help you get started.
Also known as Aka Miso, this Miso is deeper in colour and ranges from beige to russet. This is typically a deeper and more robust flavour than white Miso. Probably one of the most common Miso available.
Use Meru Sweet Red Miso in recipes that call for Red Miso. You can generally use a little bit more Miso and use a little less of any sweeteners such as sugar or honey that might be in the recipe.
Also use Meru Chickpea Miso in recipes that call for red miso. Use Chickpea Miso as per your recipe.
A medium bodied Miso, not as sweet as white miso, aged for at least six months and is used as a general purpose Miso.
Use Meru Chickpea Miso in recipes that call for yellow Miso.
A light bodied Miso that can range in colour from white to beige through to yellow. The light colour comes from a high proportion of Koji used in the recipe. White Miso, particularly Shiro and Saikyo Miso was traditionally reserved for royalty due the high proportion of Koji. Saikyo is generally the sweetest white Miso, followed by Shiro and then the rest have varying degrees of sweetness.
Use Meru Sweet White Miso in any recipe that calls for White Miso.
This Miso is aged for up to three years to develop the full flavour. This Miso, in it’s truest form, is only made in two locations in Japan and they are known for the presence of particular microbes that give this Miso it’s unique flavour.
Use Meru Chickpea Miso in place of Hatcho Miso and add a teaspoon of soy sauce for every tablespoon of Miso, to develop the flavours.
Fun and Interesting Facts About Miso
- Soy beans have one of the highest amounts of protein of any food with 36g of protein per 100g!
- Miso is a great snack - it is low in calories but makes you feel full because of the high protein content
- Miso is a powerhouse of prebiotics, probiotic bacteria and enzymes
- Miso has been shown to reduce effects of radiation poisoning and has been demonstrated to provide protection against some cancers
- Soy beans are really hard to digest, in fact, we gain almost no nutrition from them in their boiled or milk form. BUT, when the soy bean is fermented in Miso, we can access almost all of the proteins, carbohydrates and lipids - this is what makes Miso so valuable in a diet
- The Japanese believed that Miso was a gift from the Gods to aid in good health and longevity
- Some of the longest lived people in the world are in Okinawa where the residents still have at least one serve of Miso soup a day
- Not all Miso is equal - if you are buying a Miso paste off the shelf that says "unpasteurised", make sure you check the ingredients list as many of them have added alcohol to make them shelf stable. This in turn neutralises all of the beneficial bacteria and enzymes. As with most things - Fresh is Best.
Time to now find out how to use Miso