EXPLORING JAPANESE COOKING INGREDIENTS
Miso is a well-known ingredient in many Japanese dishes that adds that savory umami flavor without using any meat or meat broth. It is a paste crafted from fermented soybeans. This process involves mashing soybeans and blending them with salt and a culture known as koji (麹, Aspergillus oryzae). This same fungus is used in the production of sake, shochu, and rice vinegar.
But miso isn’t limited to just soup; it finds its way into various culinary applications. Japanese chefs use it to enhance sauces, dressings, and marinades, and it’s handy for pickling vegetables and meats.
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· History of Miso
· The Concept of Ichiju-Issai, The Balanced Meal
· Miso as Superfood
∘ Salt Content
· Miso-Making Process
· Miso Types by Color
· Storing Miso
· Common Ingredients in Miso Soup
· Important Things to Know
· How to Drink Miso Soup
History of Miso
This fermented food likely traces back to around 11th century B.C. Historical records mention a monk who received miso as part of his salary, sent from Ōmi Province (modern-day Shiga prefecture).
There is also references of miso as part of nobility’s compensation. During this era, miso was a luxury reserved for the upper class and remained unfamiliar to the common people.
Miso consumption in the Heian era involved salted soybeans, dried to form a seasoning for steamed vegetables or fish. It was paired with rice or enjoyed as a salty accompaniment to sake. Additionally, miso served medicinal purposes.
As rice cultivation expanded across the country toward the end of the Heian era, miso began incorporating rice koji in its fermentation process. This shift led to the emergence of regional miso varieties using soybeans, rice, and wheat.