Ingredients in the Raw: Miso

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miso-home-chef Chances are you’ve already heard of Miso, which has been “trending” for over a year now–like peplum, it’s been that “fad” that moved in, unpacked its bags, and shows no signs of moving out. Miso isn’t just a houseguest, though; she’s basically your market’s new landlady. And since she’ll be sticking around, it’s time to ask, what exactly is miso?

What’s it Made Of?

Miso starts with soybeans (seriously, that plant has more byproducts than Genghis Khan does). Ferment those little guys into a paste, and you’ve got a protein-packed base for sauces, soups, or pickling veggies and meats.

And the Flavor?

Edamame, soy sauce, tofu, and soy milk (just a few soy-based staples) all have unique flavors, and miso won’t taste quite like any of these foods. Based on the style of fermentation, miso can be sweet, savory, or earthy in undertone (or some combination of the three).

For newcomers to the miso game, expect that classic fermented bite along with a mellow, salty, slightly nutty flavor.

miso-soup-dumblings-home-chef Hometown Hero

A little place called Japan. Miso has been a staple in Japanese cuisine since the Neolithic era. For non-archeologists, let’s just call it “a really long time ago.”

Welcome to the Jungle

Uncooked miso can be described as a “living food,” meaning that it plays host to many awesome microorganisms that make super additions to your internal ecosystem, creating balance and aiding your digestive system.

If this idea is new to you, don’t let it scare you off. The benefits of miso are similar to those of yogurt and other fermented foods associated with probiotics.

Your body naturally has a certain composition of bacteria and microorganisms in it, and our modern habits actually tend to mess that up–from the medications we take to the chemicals we eat. Without a healthy cast of characters in your intestines, you are much more vulnerable to infection, irregularity, and unease.

Foods like miso introduce healthy microorganisms back into your overtaxed system to help everything run smoothly. However, cooking miso kills these little heroes, so, to get the most out of your miso, add it to cooked foods just before serving.


Miso Confused: How Do I Use It?

Miso has broader range than Meryl Streep. Traditionally, it has been used as a soup base, a spread, a sweet glaze for desserts, a base agent for pickling other foods, a marinade for meat, a veggie dip, or spiced and cooked by itself as a side dish.

Stateside, you’ll most often see it as a broth for soups. You can easily incorporate miso into your cooking this way–just boil water, lower heat to a simmer, stir in miso, and then keep it warm until you’re ready to add the rest of your soup ingredients.

What Do I Do with Leftovers?

You only need a little miso to flavor a single dish, so, if you buy a container at the store, you’ll almost certainly have some left over after your first use.

Keep the rest sealed airtight and refrigerated, and it’ll keep for over a year. It doesn’t get much more low-maintenance than this.

Try it Now

Get your first taste of miso, hassle-free with our warm and nourishing Pork Meatball Soup. Treat yourself to truly satiating, protein-rich miso magic. Just be careful; once is more than enough to get completely hooked.