Written and illustrated by Misa Ono
When you think of miso, the first thing that comes up in your mind is probably miso soup. However, miso can be used in many other dishes.
Miso zuke (miso-pickled) is one of them. Mix miso and mirin* to make a paste, and pickle root vegetable like carrot and ginger. After a month or so, the vegetables become tasty and salty but have umami, which is perfect to eat with rice. You can also pickle drained tofu or hard-boiled egg for 1 to 7 days. You may feel like eating mild cheese. If you pickle cream cheese, it becomes tastier and great to be a snack for drinks! Try some!!
Miso also can be a seasoning to stir-fried dishes. Stir fry eggplant and pork, then season it with miso, sugar and sake. The dish has a rich taste and is good with rice. As most Japanese people like salty-sweet taste, they tend to add sugar to the soy sauce or miso based dishes. Adding sugar brings more taste and umami to miso than soy sauce. Beef and tofu simmered in salty-sweet miso is also yum. Ah… talking about food makes me hungry…
Another way to use miso is called nuts miso which is simmered with miso, sugar, mirin and nuts like peanuts or walnuts. You can enjoy it with rice or as a snack for drinks. Sometimes fruits peel is used instead of nuts. It must be strange to see Japanese people eating the brown nutty things while sipping sake.
Speaking of being strange, the combination of miso and yogurt may be strange as well. But it is actually not bad as the combination becomes mild and creamy. And also both are fermented ingredients so it’s good for your health. You can pickle some vegetable such as cucumber and carrot or use it as a dipping sauce.
To make good dipping sauces with miso, mix miso, mayonnaise and whole grain mustard. Miso, sesame paste (or sugarless peanuts butter) and ginger are another good combination. Any vegetable, fresh or boiled, can go well with it!
Using the fact that miso is originally high in salt, you can use miso in many ways. Adding sweetness to make it tastier, adding dairy products like cheese and yogurt to make it creamy, or adding sourness like citrus fruits or vinegar, etc. Whatever you add to miso, it still remains tasty. Miso is such a strong-taste seasoning.
(*) Sweetener made of rice koji, glutinous rice and shochu (Japanese alcohol). Can be replaced with honey and white wine.