Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Miso Magic

Miso is a fermented paste with a texture like almond butter. It is made from soybeans, koji (a bacterial starter), salt and a grain - usually rice or barley.

There is quite a variety of Miso's on the market, as soybeans can be fermented into a range of different flavours, from rich and savoury to delicate and sweet. They come in varieties of either dark brown, red, white or yellow in colour.

Miso is so wonderful and holds amazing health properties. Miso acts as an anticarcinogen, and is also effective in reducing the effects of radiation, smoking, air pollution and other enviromental toxins. The darker the colour the more potent its medicinal properties. Miso is also a wonderful digestive aid because of the fermentation process. So having a cup of warm miso soup before or after a meal is the perfect choice is your digestive system is a bit off!

Miso is also a concentrated protein source, it contains approximately 12-20% protein depending on the source. It is also low in fat, but in keep in check that it is fairly high in salt!

Miso can be used in a variety of dishes and recipes. Because of the variety of flavours and colours to choose from, each one will derive a different outcome. It can be used in place of worcestershire sauce, salt and soy sauce as a seasoning agent. Miso is most typically used as the base of soup, where it provides a rich and flavourful broth. But it can also be used in marinades, salad dresssing and even some desserts.

So get yourself equiped with at least two different varieties of miso (a sweet miso and a dark brown miso), so that you can create different recipes with different flavours. You will not be disappointed, as miso is magical and makes you feel good all over!

Quick Tip: Before adding miso to your pot of soup, take some water out and stir in the miso until it has completely dissolved. Then pour the miso mixture back into the soup pot with the heat turned off.

Miso should never come in direct contact with boiling water as it will affect it's naturally occuring enzymes and delicate properties!

Sweet Miso Dressing:
½ cup white miso
1/3 cup agave nectar
½ cup mirin
¼ cup sesame oil
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ chopped ginger

In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Store in refrigerator for 3-4 days. Makes about 2 cups.

Add this dressing to any salad or slaw with a variety of vegetables like: napa cabbage, carrots, beets, cucumber and throw some sea vegetables in too (arame, wakame, nori....)

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