Not so long ago, miso was a type of soup that you had at Japanese restaurants or eateries like Yo Sushi.
Nowadays, it’s umami-rich qualities have made it a favourite with everyone from chocolatiers to Marks & Spencer, not least because it’s bursting with healthy benefits. But what exactly is miso and why is it so good for you?
Miso translates as fermented beans and is a traditional Japanese seasoning usually made from fermented soya beans and salt.
Barley or rice may be added during the fermentation process to give different depths of flavour – what links them all is the type of fungus used to make miso called kojikin. It’s used to make lots of other Japanese fermented favourites from sake to soya sauce.
Once made, most miso has a paste-like consistency a bit like smooth peanut butter. However, they are many types of miso which vary both in colour and taste.
The lightest is white miso which achieves its colour from its high density of rice added during the fermentation process. The fermentation process is also a lot shorter and can be as little as a few weeks. White miso tends to be sweeter and has less of that dense umami taste than darker miso. The latter gets its richer taste from a longer fermentation process which can last for as long as several years.
You’ll sometimes hear miso referred to as yellow or red. Yellow miso is usually made with white miso and added barley whilst red has a higher percentage of soya beans.
So why is miso so good for us?
As well as being packed with protein, miso is also full of minerals and antioxidants. There have been concerns about miso’s high-sodium content and its effect on heart health. However, studies have shown that in Japanese regions where there is a high miso content in the diet, there is low heart health problems. Miso doesn’t seem to effect cardio-vascular functions like regular salt does. Good news eh?
Yutaka has a range of great miso products including it’s delicious organic miso paste as well as some tasty instant miso soups. We’ve also got some wonderful recipes including miso caramel sauce for ice cream.