Vegan Grandma

Friday, October 27, 2006

Vegan Miso Soup, and Some Interesting Things About Miso

I love miso soup, especially on a cold, windy, cloudy day like today. Miso soup is a traditional Japanese dish, but it is becoming popular in the west. There are many different recipes for miso soup. The following recipe is from Bean Cuisine, by Janet Horsley, published by Avery Publishing group Inc., Garden City, New York, pages 46-47.

Vegan Miso Soup
makes about 4 cups

1/4 small white cabbage, shredded

1 onion
1 leek

1 carrot

1 clove of garlic

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon miso

3 and 3/4 cups vegetable stock or water

Chop the vegetables and fry them lightly in oil. Pour in the stock or water, and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 15 or twenty minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Blend the miso with 1 tablespoon of cold water and pour into the soup.

Serve with buckwheat noodles.

Be careful not to boil the soup after the miso has been added, because that would destroy much of the food value of the miso.

Some Interesting Things About Miso

Miso, a traditional Japanese condiment, is a thick , salty paste made by combining soybeans and sometimes a grain such as rice, with salt and a mold culture, and then aging the mixture in cedar vats for one to three years. Most miso that is made in western countries is produced in a similar manner, although "quick" miso also is available. This quick miso is generally inferior in taste.

The Japanese begin their day with a bowl of miso soup and use miso in a variety of foods throughout the day.

Miso is available in natural food groceries and in Asian markets.

Store miso in the refrigerator, where it will keep for months. The white mold that sometimes forms on miso is harmless. It can be scraped off or mixed into the miso.

Miso and other soy products are an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, and potassium. Contrary to some reports, miso is NOT a good source of vitamin B-12.

Miso contains living enzymes that benefit the digestion.

There are claims that miso has the ability to rid the body of toxins.

Boiling miso will destroy much of the food value, so miso should be added after the food is cooked. To add miso to soups, remove the cooked soup from the heat, hold a small strainer into the soup and press the miso through the strainer to disperse the miso into the soup, or remove a little of the soup to a bowl, dissolve the miso into the small amount of soup, and stir the mixture into the rest of the soup, which has been removed from the heat.

Use miso to flavor soups, sauces, dressings and marinades, and to make delicious patés. Use it in place of anchovy paste in recipes or as a substitute for salt or soy sauce in recipes. Because miso is high in sodium, use it sparingly.
One-quarter cup in a quart of water makes a savory soup stock.
A tablespoon of miso mixed into a cup of hot water produces a low-calorie broth to sip for an afternoon snack.

Make an appetizer by spreading slices of eggplant with miso and browning them under the broiler. This is called dengaku, a Zen Buddhist dish which is served in the temples of Japan.

You can add flavors to miso such as lemon juice, sesame seeds, ground pepper, or mustard.

The addition of different ingredients and variations in length of aging produce different types of miso that vary greatly in flavor, texture, color and aroma. In Japan, different types of miso are prepared and evaluated much the way Westerners judge fine wines and cheeses.Here are some of the different types of miso:

Hatcho miso- an almost solid, thick, firm, and dark miso, made with barley, with an intense and unique flavor. It combines well with grains such as barley or rice, and is good in hearty winter soups or stews.

Medium miso (Shinshu), sometimes called yellow miso-a light yellow miso made with rice. It is an all-purpose miso, savory enough for soups, but mild enough for dressings and dips.

Brown rice miso (genami miso)-a rich, salty miso made from brown rice.

Red miso (usually Sendai miso)-longer aged, darker, more robust in flavor and saltier that the lighter misos. It is made with rice, barley, and soybeans. It is better for soups and stews rather than dressings.

Sweet white miso (Saikyo miso)- one of the mildest forms of miso, sweeter and lighter than other misos. It is made using a higher proportion of rice to soybeans, and a lower proportion of salt. It has a shorter fermentation period, weeks rather than months or years, than other misos. It doesn’t keep as well as other misos. Sweet white miso is usually a tan color. It is often used in miso soup. It gives a cheesy flavor to foods, and is often used in vegan "cheeses". Chef Ken Bergeron, in Professional Vegetarian Cooking, uses sweet white miso as an ingredient in his Carmel vegan Icing recipe (page 398).

Barley miso (mugi miso)- made with barley and soybeans, it is darker, saltier, and chunkier than other misos because it is aged longer. In Japan it is considered an unsophisticated, country food.

Soybean miso- made only with soybeans, and no grains. In japan, it is considered a farmhouse product, to be enjoyed when visiting country areas.

Awasemiso-a combination of different miso types. It is a good all-purpose miso, especially good for miso soup.


Professional Vegetarian Cooking, by Ken Bergeron, published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Classic Chinese Cooking For the Vegetarian Gourmet, by Joanne Hush, published by Crescent Books


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