Miso Paste- Commonly Used Japanese Ingredients
Miso paste is a traditional Japanese ingredient, made from a combination of many other ingredients including, rice, soybeans, barley, rye and hemp seed. While Miso has been produced in Japan as early as 10,000 B.C., contrary to popular belief, original versions of Miso were actually made in China, thought to be introduced to Japan around the same time as Buddhism.
In the last millennium, Miso in Japan became an integral part of daily cuisine. Prior to Japanese Buddhist monks’ discovery of mashing soybeans to produce the pasty Miso we know today, it shared the texture of Nato, holding the granular shape of soybeans. While there are currently many varieties of Miso, the three most commonly known types are red (akamiso), white (shiromiso) and blended (awasemiso), with red being the most pungent of all.
The color, texture and flavor of Miso paste depends highly on a variety of factors including manner of fermentation, duration of fermentation and exact combinations of different ingredients. Miso paste is readily available in markets across the world, even becoming quite common in Western markets as the general population embraces Japanese and Asian cuisine due to their health benefits and intense flavors. They are typically packaged two ways (see image above)- in a plastic tub or in a firm plastic pouch.
Miso paste has long been commonly used in Japanese and Asian cuisine in a variety of manners. The most infamous use is in Miso Soup, though in recent years, master chefs around the world have begun to understand the amazing breadth of possible applications including in grilling fish and seafood, stir-fries and salad dressings.