There are a lot of condiments in your pantry that can add a zest of flavor to your meals, like vinegar, chili paste, and Worcestershire sauce. But what if we tell you that a unique ingredient can give your dishes umami — or an added depth of savoriness?
It’s called miso paste, and it might just be hiding in your kitchen all along. But how do you use this condiment, and is it good for you?
In this blog, you’ll learn more about miso paste, its health benefits, and why it should be a staple in a health-focused kitchen. We’ll also explore the different ways you can store and cook this versatile condiment.
What is Miso Paste?
Miso paste is a fermented condiment that can add a burst of flavor to your dishes. It’s a staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine and comes from soybeans fermented by salt and a koji starter. It also contains millions of beneficial bacteria.
An ounce (28 grams) of miso paste contains a good serving of nutrients your body needs, such as:
- 56 calories
- 7g of carbs
- 2g of fat
- 3g of protein
Adding miso paste to your dishes can help you achieve your recommended daily intake because it is an excellent source of vitamin K, manganese, copper, and zinc. Apart from these, it also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. Since the condiment is made from soybeans, it’s a good source of complete protein. After all, soybeans contain all the essential amino acids to keep your body healthy.
The fermentation process in creating miso provides two benefits: it encourages easier absorption of nutrients and promotes probiotic growth. However, fermentation could also cause miso to be very salty. We advise patients managing their salt intake to seek advice from a dietician before adding large quantities of miso to their diet.
Miso Paste Health Benefits
Miso paste is an excellent addition to your diet because of its vitamins and nutrients. Adding even small amounts to your diet provides various health benefits.
Improves Blood Glucose Control
Miso, along with other soybean foods like natto and ground soybean, can help lower a person’s glycemic index (GI). Every type of food has its own GI, and the number tells you how quickly it can cause an increase in your blood glucose levels.
Some studies report that soy foods like miso are a great addition to diets for better control of blood glucose and insulin levels.
Decreases Blood Pressure & Heart Rate
A high salt intake can increase blood pressure and hypertension. But even though miso has a salty taste, it doesn’t contribute to these complications the same way an equivalent intake of salt does. In fact, it can even lower blood pressure and heart rate because it modulates sympathetic nerve activity.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
There is some evidence showing that soy foods have lower cholesterol content compared to animal protein. After all, they reduce the concentrations of “bad” cholesterol, such as triglycerides.
Reduces Inflammation & Prevents Diseases
Miso fermentation produces isoflavones, a type of compound with antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties. This chemical reduces the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and chronic diseases that result from inflammation.
Protects Your Gut
Miso is full of probiotics and can help improve your gut health. It contains A. oryzae, a substance that reduces the risk of digestive system complications such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Miso Paste Flavors & Variations
Miso paste is available in different variations depending on the length of its fermentation. It can be sweet and mild or salty and rich. Its color will also depend on its flavor, as it ranges from pale tan to dark brown. For example, light-colored miso tends to be sweet and smooth.
There are about 1,000 different types of miso paste as its origin dates back as early as the seventh century. These miso variations have different base ingredients, but all have that umami taste we all know and love from signature Japanese cuisine.
Some of the most common types of miso paste include:
- Mugi miso — This type of miso is made from soybeans, roasted barley, and salt. It has a sweeter taste and a lighter appearance.
- Kome miso — Kome miso is also called rice miso because it’s made with malted rice. It is widely available in white, red, and yellow varieties.
- Mame miso — This dark reddish-brown type of miso is made entirely from soybeans.
- Shiro miso — Shiro miso is fermented for no longer than two months to achieve its light color and sweet or mild salty taste.
- Shinshu miso — This versatile type of miso is fermented slightly longer than Shiro miso.
- Aka miso — Aka miso achieves its reddish, dark brown color because of its high soybean content. It has a fermentation time of up to three years and is reddish and dark brown in appearance.
- Barley miso — Barley miso is made up of soy, barley, and sea salt. It takes longer to ferment than Shiro miso.
How to Store Miso Paste
Miso paste is best stored in an airtight container and placed in a refrigerator after it’s been opened. Since it has high salt content, you can keep it preserved for a long time.
When storing your miso, add a piece of plastic under the lid to prevent oxidation. You can also keep your miso paste inside the freezer. Store it in an ice tray so you don’t have to open a whole container and defrost the entire batch of paste.
Over time, the miso paste could grow darker, but it’ll still be edible. Sometimes, exposure to heat could cause a reaction that could cause a change in color.
Cooking with Miso Paste
Miso paste is a versatile condiment that you can add to almost any dish. It comes in many flavors, from sweet to savory.
Curious about how to use miso paste and how you can incorporate it into your diet? Below we’ve listed various ways on how you can cook with miso paste.
- Stir into soup
- Create miso butter
- Spread on broiled fish
- Cook garlic mashed potatoes with miso
- Make miso-flavored ice cream
- Prepare miso-rubbed roast turkey
- Make an all-purpose miso sauce/dip
- Spread it over toast with honey
- Make miso-mustard dressing
- Cook with stir-fry dishes
- Use for marination
Add Miso Paste to Your Diet
Miso paste is a must in any kitchen because of its distinct taste and health benefits. Adding this ingredient to your everyday meals will naturally elevate and transform its flavor.
Looking for more health and nutrition tips? Check out our blog today.