If you have my Healthy eBook you will notice I have a few recipes that utilise miso paste. Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning, usually a paste that is made from fermented soybeans, salt, fungus Aspergillus oryzae, known in Japanese as kōjikin, and sometimes rice, barley, buckwheat or other ingredients.
Miso is typically salty, but its flavour and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savoury. Basically it makes food taste yummy and hearty, and of course salty. You read salt, well unlike your ordinary table salt, the studies have shown that miso doesn’t have the same negative impact on our bodies however like anything you should have in moderation, but it is definitely a more nutritious way to season our food.
The reason I’m writing about miso is that if you are into healthy eating there is a lot of literature and research about soy products and the harmful effects they can cause to our bodies therefore I do try to avoid them with the exception of miso which is a naturally fermented soy food.
The reason miso is not as harmful to other soy products is that it is produced through a fermentation process, which makes them more easily digestible and reduces the amount of antinutrients. In fact, miso is rather healthy and nutritious as it’s a great source of probiotics, has high levels of isoflavones (which prevent cancer) and a good amount of protein, minerals and vitamins, especially Vitamin K.
There are many different varieties of miso depending on key ingredients and the length of fermentation. For example there are miso pastes using soy only, soy and brown rice, soy and white rice, soy and barley, soy and ginger, soy and buckwheat and the list goes on. I avoid anything that has gluten in it i.e. barley. The lighter colour miso paste indicates a shorter fermentation time and has a sweeter less salty taste whilst darker colour miso past indicates a longer fermentation process and as a result has a more concentrated flavour. The darker ones are usually considered more nutritious.
When I buy miso paste I always look for non-GMO, gluten free, organic varieties of miso and it should be unpasteurised leaving all the beneficial, live bacteria in your miso. Check the label when buying miso and make sure there are no other nasties, preservatives or MSG added, that’s really important for a healthy lifestyle. This is one product that you may need to go to a speciality Asian grocer for or look online. The supermarkets do have miso paste but may not pass the test when looking at their labels.
Check out my Healthy eBook to view a yummy Salmon Miso Noodle Soup and Miso Eggplant recipes!