If you’ve ever been to a sushi restaurant, chances are you have tried Miso soup. Have you ever wondered what exactly Miso is made of? And why has it remained a daily staple of the Japanese and Chinese diet for centuries?
What is Miso? What are the health benefits of Miso?
Miso, before it’s added to broth, begins as a paste made of soybeans, cultured grain, and sea salt (although beans other than soy can be used.. keep reading). It is a naturally fermented food which contains health-giving probiotics. Probiotics are excellent for improving digestion, energy, immunity, and decreasing symptoms like bloating, flatulence, and constipation. Miso has also been shown to substantially reduce cancer risk. It is one of the few soy-containing items that I recommend consuming because it is minimally processed, retaining all those wonderful substances such as K2, all the amino acids, and antioxidants. For a fascinating video on how miso is traditionally made, click here.
How can I incorporate it into my diet?
It is very easy to eat miso regularly as part of a healthy diet! The most important thing to remember is that miso should never be boiled or heated more than necessary because this will destroy the beneficial bacteria (probiotics).
My favorite way of eating miso is in soup. First, I simply sautee whatever veggies I have lying around plus some garlic and ginger. If you’d like to add meat or fish to your soup, cook these seperately. Meanwhile, bring about 3 cups water or unsalted broth to a simmer (this recipe is for 1 serving). I suggest unsalted broth because Miso is quite salty on its own. Once the liquid is gently simmering, remove from heat. Take 1 tablespoon of Miso (use one tablespoon per serving), put in a small soup bowl. Add a ladle full of liquid, and mix until you have an even consistency. Add your veggies and meat to the liquid which had been simmering, and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Next add the miso mixture and stir well. Voila! I love topping my soups with scallions, toasted sesame oil, and Siracha for a dash of heat. This method is a great fridge-cleaner… you can really add anything to the soup!
There are many other great ways to eat miso, such as homemade salad dressing, glaze for salmon or chicken, or sauce for vegetables.
Where can I get miso paste?
I recommend a brand called South River Miso. It’s organic, made in the USA by tradidional methods, and comes in lots of mouth-watering varieties from traditional sweet white miso to the exotic Dandelion Leek and Chickpea Barley. I’m currently making my way through a jar of Azuki Bean Miso. It runs $10-$15 per 16 oz jar, but keep in mind that if refrigerated, it can be kept indefinitely because it is a fermented, living food. You can find South River Miso online or at grocers such as Whole Foods.