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I'm Soy Into You!

Miso is a fermented soybean paste made from soybeans, grain (rice/barley), a koji starter, and salt and then left to ferment. Some white miso only age for 3-6 weeks while some miso ages up to 3 years or even longer! The idea, and early developments of miso actually originated in China and were brought to Japan in the 7th century by Monks. Though Japan is the first country that comes to mind when someone mentions miso, China and also Korea use a miso like product in their everyday cooking. In China, miso is referred to as Chiang (pronounced jang), and in Korea, they miso like ingredient used is called doenjang (pronounced done-jang), which is a base to many soups (jigae).

There are 3 basic colors of Miso available in America:


1. White (shiro) Miso – made from mostly rice and some barley. Has the least pronounced flavor and is fermented for the least amount of time. Great backround nuances, makes smooth, mellow tasting, light colored miso soup and vinaigrettes.

2. Yellow (shinshu) Miso – made from mostly barley and some rice (sometimes). Flavors of yellow miso are more pronounced as they have been fermented longer. Yellow miso is great in condiments and marinades; is also great for soup making.

3. Red (aka) Miso – made from mostly soybean (around 70%) while the other make up comes from either barley or rice or both. Red miso has the longest fermentation time of the three misos (1 ½ - 3) years, and has a darker, redder color. The flavor is strong, deep, and is the saltiest in flavor of the three miso pastes. As the flavor can become overwhelming if overused, if is perfect for long cooking processes and for use in glazes.


Tips For Using Miso:

  • Generally speaking, the darker the color, the longer the miso has been fermented.
  • When using Miso in making soup – NEVER BOIL THE MISO! Also, when adding, mix the miso in a large ladle with some stock and make a runny paste, then slowly stream the paste into the hot (BUT NOT BOILING) stock.
  • Do not use silken tofu in miso soup. Use firm or extra firm.