Miso notes

For inquiring minds, here are a few notes about miso. It is an essential staple of Japanese cuisine, and now of my own diet as well.

Miso soup is made by dissolving miso paste in hot water—roughly 4 tbsp in 5 cups of water. The paste itself is made from fermented soy beans, which are cooked with salt and rice and/or barley. In the grocery store, you can find the paste in a plastic box or bag, and it should be refrigerated after opening. Many general grocery stores stock it. Here in Montreal, we find the best prices at Korean grocery stores, but we occasionally buy it at P.A. on Du Fort.

There are many, many types of miso, with each region of Japan favouring its own traditional miso. But the most typical kind is white miso (shiromiso 白みそ).

The most important thing for beginners to note is that you have to add dashi (fish stock) to make proper miso soup. You can buy miso with the dashi already included, in which case you just dissolve the paste in water and add the veggies, etc. of your choice. The package will be labeled with the word “dashi” in English or in Japanese:  だし入り (dashi iri). We prefer to use miso without dashi, because then you can adjust the taste more easily. Yusuke also frequently uses miso and dashi on their own in other types of dishes.

Miso soup is generally very easy to make, and thus it is a part of nearly every meal that we have. I’ve posted a multitude of miso soups (click for pics!), but here are some of our most common combinations:

  • green onions and egg (Yusuke’s fav)
  • spinach, green onions, and egg
  • silken tofu and wakame (seaweed)
  • mushrooms and bean sprouts, sometimes with green onions or wakame
  • firm tofu and bean sprouts
  • cabbage and yakifu
  • okra (my current fav)
  • carrots, onions, and potatoes…and pork, if you like that sort of thing
  • eggplant
  • asparagus, especially with abura-age

Yusuke sometimes adds powdered chicken stock instead of dashi, just for something different. He also occasionally adds soy milk, especially in combination with a spicy sauce. Really, a good amount of the stuff on our shopping list can go into miso soup.

If you want a really excellent introduction to miso, check out this Just Hungry article. Her “5 days of miso soup” series is linked on the post. Kanako’s Kitchen also has a nice explanation of the soup.

Our current miso of choice

1 Comment

  1. CP said

    Great post! And thanks for the link to your shopping list, I think I must have missed that.

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