Washoku Wednesday: Miso

(Another tasty post from Courtney today! I love miso so I can’t wait to try out these easy recipes!)

This month we’re going to discuss miso, that salty fermented soybean paste that is used in a variety of Japanese dishes. Not just miso soup!

Basic miso is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus called koji. Additional ingredients can be added such as grains or fruit flavors. Then the whole mixture is stored in a cool location for 4 months to over a year. The flavors intensify and becomes more complex the longer it sits.

In Japan, there are many variations but the main categories are: light (shiro) miso, red/dark (akamiso) miso, and mixed. The mixed typically includes grains like barley, rice, millet and wheat. But I even picked up yuzu-flavored miso last time I was in Kyoto.

This thick paste is a culinary staple in Japanese cuisine. It’s full of protein, and low in calories and fat. It’s a excellent source for nutrients such as amino acids, potassium, calcium and iron to name a few. Add in that it’s flavorful and gives great umami depth to any dish makes it a great addition to almost any dish.

The recipe below is one that my husband has tweaked over the past year. I’ve opted to include tahini in this recipe because it’s easier for people outside Japan to find. If you live in Japan, consider seeking out their ground sesame paste. The flavor is less pronounced letting the miso shine.

You can also elect to only use one type of miso. I prefer only shiro miso but the miso flavor is overpowered by the tahini. My husband likes a mixture of the two because it blends to form a slightly stronger flavor without being too salty from the dark miso. If you do elect for only one, I suggest 2-3 times the amount of light miso or just the ½ TBSP dark miso (and adjust to taste).


Tahini Miso Dip
¼ cup tahini
½ TBSP dark miso
½ TBSP light miso
½ tsp light soy sauce
red pepper flakes

Blend and mix all ingredients until smooth. Add water to loosen mixture to desired texture. Serve with vegetable sticks. Our favorites are celery, daikon radish, carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers.

Other Recipes:
Miso caramel from Food52
Seriously, this recipe was a game-changer. I put it on everything and I’m always trying to create new recipes to incorporate it (check out my vanilla ice cream with miso caramel swirl below).

Vanilla Ice Cream with Miso Caramel Swirl from Courtney’s Global Table
One of my personal adaptations that quickly became a household favorite for ice cream nights.

Negi Miso Chicken from Just One Cookbook
A great weeknight recipe! It comes together quickly and goes great with steamed rice, sautéed vegetables and a salad.

Miso Grilled Vegetables from Cooking Light
We love grilling at our house and this is a perfect accompaniment for grilled chicken.

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