What is Miso? The most common miso is fermented soybeans, but today you can find many other varieties including fermented rice and barley. Due to the abundance of Japanese restaurants, miso can now be found not only in Asian markets but is no readily available in Western supermarkets.
When shopping for miso remember that there are three basic types of miso: red, white and awase miso. Awase means blend, so awase miso is just a blend of white and red miso. They all have a slightly different flavor. Red has a stronger taste than white and so many use the awase miso as a good balance between the two. To make miso soup, you can’t just add hot water to miso, the key ingredient is the bonito stock, called katsuo dashi. Without the dashi the miso soup will taste rather bland.
The dashi in this photo is called Hon Dashi and you can see the fish illustration in the corner to indicate it is fish stock. So, I hate to disappoint vegetarians, but you won’t be able to use this stock. Instead, please use an alternative vegetable stock. Also, you may want to check with your local Japanese restaurant what kind of stock they use in their miso soup. Many people assume that since miso is bean paste, their soup must be vegetarian. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Here is the most basic recipe for miso soup.
- Miso Soup
- • 2 Cups Water
- • 2 Tablespoon miso
- • 1 teaspoon sake
- • ¼ teaspoon dashi granules
- • Recommended vegetables: onions, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, spinach, tofu, mushrooms, turnip
- • Chopped green onions
- Add water to a pot and bring to a boil. Add Japanese dashi. Slowly dissolve miso to in water and add sake. Chop and add any desired vegetables. Simmer until vegetables are done. Sprinkle with green onions for flavor and garnish.