If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you’ve experienced the one-of-a-kind, mysteriously delicious dish that is miso soup. Light yet creamy, and bursting with the sought-after satisfaction of umami, miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans. It traditionally comes in three varieties–white (shiromiso), red (akamiso), and mixed (awasemiso)–each with its own distinct flavor.
For vegans, miso is practically a dream ingredient. It is a complete protein and full of amino acids, probiotics, and good bacteria for improving digestion. The B12 content (from 0.25 μg/ 100g in barley miso to 0.15 μg/100g in light rice miso) is also significant, roughly equivalent to that in 2 1/2 oz. (75 g.) of poultry. While the pricey plastic tub it’s sold in might be intimidating, fear not: miso keeps in the refrigerator for up to a year, so your initial investment will be a worthwhile one. Perhaps the one drawback of miso is the high sodium (360 mg / 2 t. serving, about 15% of the DRV). Luckily, it’s such a concentrated food that you normally don’t need more than a tablespoon in an entire recipe to capture the full flavor.
Why aren’t I cooking everything with miso? you might be asking yourself right now. Maybe because of the limiting soup box–bowl?–it’s been forced into, at least here in the US. But if you’re interested in experimenting with miso in your diet, try these very un-soup-like recipes to incorporate into your family’s menu.
3 Miso Recipes
Red Miso Glaze
I made this quick and easy stir fry on a Friday night with vegetables I had in my crisper. Feel free to vary the produce depending on the season and availability of different produce.
For the glaze:
3 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. mustard
1 T. red miso
½ T. garam masala
1 t. ground ginger
Red pepper flakes
1 t. Cumin
1 t. Tumeric
Cut one block of firm tofu into cubes. Coat a medium frying pan with cooking spray and over medium heat cook tofu and 2 minced garlic cloves until tofu is beginning to lightly brown. Add 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips. In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl, using a fork to mash the miso paste with the liquids and spices. When the zucchini starts to brown, add 1 c. chickpeas and glaze, stirring well to coat evenly. Cook 3-5 minutes longer, and serve with basil. Serves 4.
Lentil Miso Hummus
A delightful variation on a vegetarian and vegan staple. The white miso lends a lighter, sweeter flavor than red miso. Enjoy with cut veggies and toasted pita.
2 c. cooked lentils, cooled completely and on the mushy side (can be made ahead and refrigerated)
2 garlic cloves
¼ c. cashew butter (softened/room temperature)
2 t. olive oil
1 T. yellow miso
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. ground ginger
1 T. water
Combine the garlic, cashew butter, miso, lemon juice, and vinegar in a food processor or blender; blend until smooth. Add the lentils, 1 cup at a time, blending after each addition. Add the spices to taste. Add the water if the hummus seems dry, as needed. Top with olive oil, and add extra when serving.
Sweet Potato Broccoli Bowl
This is a beautiful and colorful meal you’ll feel good cooking and eating, long into the abundant leftovers.
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Goop)
Chop about 1 lb. broccoli, 1 block firm tofu, and 2 medium sweet potatoes into cubes. First, roast the potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until starting to crisp. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 c. amaranth with 1 1/2 c. water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. After the potatoes have roasted, add broccoli and tofu to the pan and cook for another 20-25 minutes.
Prepare the miso dressing in a small bowl:
1 T. minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 T. white miso
2 T. tahini
1 T. brown rice syrup
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil
When vegetables have roasted, divide into four servings and top with amaranth, 1 T. dressing, and 1 t. toasted sesame seeds.
Also by Jennifer: How to Fall – Conquering Fear of Inversions with Grace
Photo: Jennifer Kurdyla