Rose's New Year Shop Watch: White Miso Paste
White miso paste
Miso Tasty, Tesco, Waitrose, Ocado
Vegetables never tasted so good
I decided to do a detox during the lockdown in November with the prospect of some sort of Christmas to look forward to. I knew that I could not face it in the gloom of January with another lockdown ahead. So, I had a dry two weeks (quite long enough in my book even in a normal year) and a very healthy diet full of vegetables for the same two weeks. However, if you are strong-willed and brave enough to be doing something similar this month I applaud you, and want to suggest something that might help ease the pain. And that is white miso paste.
Now I first heard of miso years ago when a small restaurant in New York became the height of fashion and their signature dish was black miso cod. The restaurant was Nobu and they have become an international phenomenon with even hotels now carrying their name. In my view all because of black miso cod. I always thought that there was something called black miso but in fact it is the cod that is black (well not really – the variety of fish is called black cod but it has white flesh). And now I am going to confuse you even more because the miso is called white but in reality, is beige. (And there are red and yellow varieties too.) Nothing is at it seems! But enough of this colour conundrum, the important thing is that white miso paste is a secret ingredient to get you through this month.
White miso (also known as Shiro) is made by fermenting soya beans with rice, and its greatest strength is lending a deep unami flavour to vegetarian dishes. Much has been made of unami, the fifth basic taste after sweet, sour, bitter and salty, but suffice it to say that the end result is a deep and distinctive taste dimension added to a dish. Raymond Blanc describes it as adding “layer upon layer of velvet and silkiness”. Because miso is a fermented product it is very healthy, providing the gut with beneficial (friendly) bacteria. And it is widely accepted that a healthy gut is linked to overall mental and physical wellness. In Japan it is considered a health superfood being high in protein and vitamins and low in calories - with 2 tablespoons equalling around just 56 calories.
It is most commonly used in classic miso soup in Japanese cooking, but you can stir a tablespoon or two into all kinds of other soups too, like minestrone and butternut squash. But I find it comes into its own as a marinade with vegetables. Simply mix some miso with honey, mirin, sesame oil, soy sauce and grated ginger, and use it to coat cauliflower florets before roasting them, or aubergine wedges, or a traybake of different vegetables and they will be transformed. If you are not being strictly vegetarian then paint it on salmon fillets, or sea bass, or prawns which you cook on a skewer. It is equally happy with chicken or meat but you may wish to wait for this month to be over before trying that.
It is delicious in stir fried vegetables – you just add a spoonful or two into the wok along with whatever liquid you are using. You can make a dressing using miso to drizzle over lots of different vegetables - sautéed mushrooms, tenderstem broccoli, asparagus. If you find you are eating a lot of salad this month, then add a spoonful to your salad dressing and taste the difference. Or add it to mayonnaise and use as a dip for raw carrots or celery or in a sandwich. You may wish to go one step ahead of the fashionistas and mix it with avocado to spread on toast. And finally it can be used in desserts such as creme brulée but again this may have to wait.
The white miso paste I am suggesting is organic and unpasteurised, and comes from a company called Miso Tasty. It was founded by a chef called Bonnie Chung who scoured the countryside of Japan in search of the right taste for her miso. She found it in the region of Shinshu, an area renowned for having the right conditions for making miso and the expertise and experience to produce the quality she was looking for. It was launched in 2014 and has since won a Great Taste Award. There are some recipes on their website and Bonnie Chung has written a cookbook (Miso Tasty: Everyday Tasty Recipes with Miso) full of ideas which you can buy on Amazon.
There is no doubt about it, vegetables never tasted so good
Miso Tasty Organic White Miso Cooking Paste
£4.00 for 200g (Miso Tasty) *special offer - 20% off your next order at Miso Tasty - enter code MISODELIA20. Offer ends 5th February 2021*
£2.50 for 100g (Tesco)
£3.99 for 200g (Ocado/Waitrose)