Have you ever wondered what miso is actually made of? I eat miso almost every day and it occurred to me recently that I have no idea how it is made or what ingredients are in it. Miso is a culinary staple in Japan and it is widely known as a health food. I have heard that miso is good for your skin, it has anti-aging properties and it can lower your cholesterol. Four months ago, a Japanese grandmother swore to me that if I ate the miso she had been fermenting for five years, I would never catch a cold. I happily had a few bowls of the soup and so far so good. We’ll see what happens this winter.
So, what is in miso paste? I have not had the chance to make it myself but I have seen the process in action. Here is a list of the main ingredients from the JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) website:
- koji: this is a fermentation starter. It is a mold that breaks down the starches in rice.
There are many variations of miso and lots of other ingredients can be added to enhance the flavor. Salt is commonly added as well as other kinds of beans and sometimes corn. According to the JETRO website, there are many types of miso, differing in their main ingredients, length of maturation, salt concentration, and other properties.
Here is a video that I think is a great introduction to how miso paste is made:
Miso paste can also be eaten in many different ways. It is best known for being the main component in miso soup. It can also be brushed on fish and grilled, used to flavor vegetables and pickles, and it is commonly used to make my favorite ramen, miso ramen. I encourage everyone to try this delicious and healthly Japanese staple in as many ways as possible! You won’t be disappointed!