November 9, 2007

My Japan Gallery and Miso

I have decided to publish many of my Japan pictures in one place! If you look at the left side of this blog, you will see a link to my Japan photos. I plan on improving the gallery feature and using it much more often. Feel free to give me some suggestions to make your experience a better one. This blog is always a work in progress.

We received many nice comments about my blog describing tofu, so I thought you might like to read about another important food ingredient of Japan – miso.  You may have tried miso soup in a Japanese restaurant, but what exactly is it?

Well, miso, also referred to as bean paste, is essential to Japanese food preparation.  Miso is made by salting and fermenting soybeans together with a grain such as rice, barley, or wheat, along with a special mold.  This mixture is then slowly fermented in several stages for anywhere from a few months to a few years.  Like wine- and cheese making, creating miso is a complex art.  And because it’s made in diverse ways, the color, taste, and texture vary greatly.  In Japan, each region has its own favorite miso, ranging in color from ivory, to light brown, to nearly black.  Basically, the darker the miso, the longer the fermentation time, which results in a stronger and saltier flavor.

Miso is used in making soups, preparing sauces and marinades, in salad dressings, pickling all sorts of vegetables, and as a table condiment.  And because miso contains living enzymes, it’s said to be good for the digestive system.  It also provides a nutritious balance of complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and it’s customary in Japan to begin each day with a hot bowl of delicious miso soup.  If you’d like to start experimenting with miso, you can find several types in Asian markets and in heath food stores.

Click here to search for many of our recipes containing Miso!

Here are some pictures of some of my favorite miso recipes at