To culture, that deep, rich, nourishing habitat. Majestic movement of the four seasons, Stone walls, oak wooden vats, body and mind. To a culture, the specific and diverse myriads of microorganisms, Vital force that drives the fermentation process; A living sacrifice. To beans, rice, water, and salt. To centuries of tradition and ongoing research. To the craftsman and the scientist, Mature intuition, clear understanding, Unfolding the mystery. To the pioneering first generation of miso In South Africa.
Miso is a Japanese form of fermented bean paste. It is made by mashing well-cooked beans with koji (rice grown with mold Aspergillus oryzae), salt, mature miso and/or other ingredients. Japanese tradition encompasses many different varieties and regional styles of miso. Miso’s range of flavours and colours, textures and aromas, is at least as varied as that of the world’s fine wines or cheeses. Like kefir yogurt, miso contains live enzymes and bacteria that aid digestion. Miso can be described as ‘umami’, having all 5 tastes in one. Miso is a high-protein seasoning made from the most technical and timely techniques of our pro-biotic fermentations. After years of experience with master craftsmen, we are proud to present the finest unpasteurised shiro miso, cultured locally at Sexy Food within our wooden oak vats.
A WORKING ALCHEMY
Miso belongs to the highest class of medicines, those which prevent disease and strengthen the body through continued usage. According to Japanese mythology, miso was a gift from the gods, to assure man’s health, longevity and happiness. In some parts of China and Japan, drinking miso soup every day is associated with a long and abundant life. Starting the day with miso soup is said to alkalise the body and help neutralise the acid congestion caused by modern day toxins. Once established in the intestine, the acid-loving bacteria found in abundance in sweet, light, unpasteurised miso promotes stamina and strong immunity. Traditionally fermented miso provides a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, protein, essential oils, vitamin and minerals. Soybeans are fermented into different flavoured miso’s which range from savoury to sweet. During fermentation, the complex proteins, oils, and carbohydrates of rice and soya beans are broken down into more readily digestible amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. This is why miso is considered an excellent food for people with a weak digestion, cancer, radiation sickness, tobacco poisoning, acidic heartburn conditions, and now miso’s reputation as one of nature’s most healing foods has been confirmed by modern medical science. Scientific research revealing miso’s effectiveness in prevention and treatment of cancer began in the 1960’s.
Anyone who has eaten in a Japanese restaurant is familiar with miso soup. Soup is indeed a wonderful use of miso, but miso is an extremely versatile flavoring with many other applications. Sweet miso can be served as is for use as a table condiment.
Miso Marinades – Miso makes a great base for marinades to flavor meats, vegetables, tempeh, or really anything you might braai, roast, boil, or stir-fry. Mix miso with vinegar, oil, hot sauce, honey or sugar, beer, wine, herbs – almost anything! Combine well, spread over the surfaces of food being marinated, and marinate for several hours or several days, turning periodically and recovering surfaces as necessary. Leave residual marinade on the food, so when you cook it will caramelize.
Miso Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads – Natural fat-rich bases, such as kefir yogurt, seed and nut butters, and sour cream, are ideal companions for miso’s dense salty flavor. Miso-kefir yogurt is an absolute classic, but miso-tahini and miso-nut & seed butter combinatioins are just as delicious. Start with a ratio of about 4 parts base to each part miso, and adjust the proportions to your liking. Thin the mixture with kraut or kimchi juice, citrus juice, pot ‘stock’ from cooking vegetables, or water. Add any other flavorings you like. Depending upon how thick or thin it is, the same mixture could be presented as a spread, sauce or dressing.
Sweet Miso Porridge – Sweet miso, with its short fermentation, generally has enzymes present that can digest complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. Cook porridge, without salt, in the evening. Cool to below 60’C and add sweet miso. Stir well to distribute the miso in the porridge, cover, and leave in a moderately warm spot overnight. By morning the porridge will have liquefied somewhat and become much sweeter. Gently reheat and enjoy sweet porridge.
Miso Bircher Muesli – Soak your oats (or preferred grain) overnight in sweet miso paste, spring water, kombucha tea, kefir yogurt, grated apple, cinnamon, dates or raisons, nuts & seeds. Stir well and enjoy cold the next morning.
Miso Soup – Classic and wonderful. Miso is generally the last ingredient to be added. The idea is to avoid boiling the miso or subjecting it to unnecessary heat. Over cooking spoils the miso’s prized aroma while also destroying the microorganisms and enzymes which aid digestion. Of course, hot soup temperatures even below boiling will destroy most of the organisms, but by avoiding boiling some enzymes may be preserved, and certainly volatile flavor compounds. Typically miso soup is a simple broth, a stock made with kombu seaweed,. You can enliven a simple miso broth with a little fresh grated ginger. Any soup or stew may be enriched by the addition of miso, including soups made by meat, or fish-based stocks, or vegetables. Before adding miso, remove soup from the heat. Use a ladle or mug to scoop out a few milliliters’ of soup. Mash the miso into that so it dissolves into aliquid. Figure about 1 tablespoon/15ml miso per cup of soup, unless the soup already has a rich base, in which case use less. Stir the miso back into the soup and taste. Repeat if necessary.
Enjoy miso as is! Unpasteurized Miso paste is the best scooped out with a tea-spoon and enjoyed raw, or spread over some sourdough or essene bread. It’s like an energy boosting nut-butter on steroids!