As more and more countries discover the health benefits of fermented foods, miso has rapidly been gaining popularity outside of Japan. For hundreds of years, the Japanese have attributed cleansing and detoxifying qualities to their traditional morning bowl of miso soup, and it is thought by many to be the original instant soup. If you have some miso paste in your refrigerator, miso soup can be as quick and easy to make as any pre-packaged soup. Toss in some chicken or tofu, rice or noodles, some vegetables and you’ve got a super quick and easy, satisfying and healthful meal.
Our Organic Red Miso Powder is freeze-dried from red miso paste which makes it easier to store and more versatile. Red Miso has a strong umami flavor, which excellent for providing meaty flavors without adding meat-based ingredients to a dish. It can be used in either its powder form or rehydrated into a paste.
What is Miso?
A traditional Japanese seasoning, miso is a peanut butter-like paste made using a two-stage fermentation process. In the first stage, steamed grains (typically rice or barley, but in some cases soybeans) are inoculated with a mold (Aspergillus oryzae) and incubated for about 48 hours to make koji, which serves as a source of enzymes. In the second stage, the koji is mixed with cooked soybeans, salt, water, and seed miso (typically from previous year’s batch), packed into large vats, and traditionally fermented for 6-18 months.
History of Miso
While Miso is known in the west as a Japanese seasoning, its origins are rooted in China, where it was first known as jiang (pronounced “chi oung”) and is generally considered the oldest condiment known to man. Food historians believe it was first made during the Chou dynasty (722-481 BC) and was developed as a way to preserve protein rich foods (most likely fish, game and shellfish) to be used as either preserves or seasonings. These early concoctions were made from seafood, meats and later soybeans, and were immersed in a mixture of rice wine and salt and then fermented in sealed earth ware for at least 100 days.
There is evidence that long before the arrival of miso-like foods from China and Korea, the Japanese had developed their own fermented sauces. Beginning in the late Jomon period (which depending on the scholar either started in 10,000 or 7,500 BC) through the Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD) the Japanese did concoct jiang-like sauces. The Japanese called these seasonings "hishio" or "hishiho".
One of the critical developments in the creation of Japanese miso was the 6th century Chinese agricultural encyclopedia "Ch'i Min Yao Shu", which detailed the techniques for preparing different varieties of jiang. It described the preparation of koji and soy (and barley) nuggets, and from it the Japanese learned how to prepare red-snapper miso, crab miso and yuzu miso. This book was a treasure trove of accurate and detailed information and had a profound effect on the development of Japanese farming methods and food preparation.
At the beginning of the Heian period (794-1160), the word "miso" was written with a new combination of characters, which is used to this day. The character for "mi" meant "flavor" while "so" meant "throat". Why the name change after several hundred years of use? Food historians believe that it was because the Japanese had completely transformed “jiang” into a food that best suited the particular Japanese tastes.
Written documents from the 700’s tell of miso being sold at marketplaces in the former capital of Nara, and the first shops specializing in miso appeared in the new capital of Kyoto in around 925. Up to this time, it was mostly consumed by monks in temples and by court nobility. By the middle of the 10th century, it was slowly making its way from the capital into the more rural areas.
In 1185, a great revolution occurred in Japan. A new government, composed largely of Samurai, took control of the country. Buddhism became the spiritual force and taught the common people to lead a simple life based on daily religious practice, faith and meditation. The Buddhist lifestyle instructed a simple, healthful way of eating - with a typical meal consisting of a large serving of cooked grain (rice, barley, or millet) and miso soup containing tofu and vegetables.
This Kamakura period (1185 - 1392) is known as the period in which miso soup developed. During this time, the Japanese aristocracy came to view miso as a symbol of the "food of the people." Miso and tofu became the basic favorite foods, both among the ruling Shoguns and in the Zen temples. Almost all temples made their own miso and they taught the process to people throughout the country. It was under the new Buddhist influence of the Kamakura period that the consumption of hishio containing fish or animal-derived products steadily declined, and that grain-and-soybean-based miso began to play a larger role in the Japanese diet.
Japanese immigrants brought miso-making to the United States in the early 20th century. The first miso company in the U.S. opened in Sacramento in 1907, and over the next 15 years four more miso companies opened, all founded by Japanese immigrants in California. These companies produced miso primarily for the tightly knit Japanese immigrant community and did not sell to a broader audience. It was not until the 1960s that Caucasian Americans began to try out the product.
Understanding the Different Types of Miso
The flavor profile, color, texture and saltiness of a particular miso is based on the ingredients used and the length of the aging period. Miso colors range from brown to white, with the darker miso having a fuller, richer flavor and the lighter miso having a lighter, milder flavor.
White Miso (Japanese name Shiro Miso)
White miso is the most widely produced miso. It has less salt than darker miso varieties, has the smallest percentage of soybeans and is fermented for the shortest amount of time; typically, just a few weeks. With a mild, delicate flavor, it is generally found in dips, salad dressings, light sauces and summer soups. It is also used in glazes and marinades for heartier meat and vegetable dishes (ie eggplant). Considered the sweetest of all the misos, it is also known as "sweet" or "mellow" miso.
Yellow Miso (Shinshu Miso)
Yellow miso is fermented slightly longer than white miso, and may be light yellow to light brown in color. Considered more of an all-purpose miso, it is used in glazes and soups. The flavor profile is sweeter, more acidic and not as salty as red miso.
Red Miso (Aka Miso)
Red miso is fermented for the longest amount of time (up to three years) and is made with the highest percentage of soybeans and the highest amount of salt. It can range in color from red to dark brown. It is most often used in braises, glazes and hearty soups and has a more assertive, slightly bitter and pungent flavor.
When and Where to Use
Red miso powder is often used in the commercial preparation of chips, desserts, sauces, seasoning blends and soups. Our organic red miso powder is best used in braises, glazes, marinades and hearty soups.
We’ve also used it like a meat stock or bouillon in the preparation of dips, dressings, gravies, sauces and soups. It can easily overpower milder ingredients, so use sparingly.
Ready to use. To make a paste, mix one part organic red miso powder with one part water.
Has a complex, rich savory flavor with umami characteristics and salty fermented notes.
What's in It
Organic soybeans, organic rice, salt and organic aspergillus oryzae.
Serving Size 1 Teaspoon, Amount Per Serving: Calories 0, Total Fat 0g (0% DV), Sat. Fat 0g (0% DV), Trans Fat 0g (0% DV), Cholest. 0mg (0% DV), Sodium 120mg (5% DV), Total Carb.0g (0% DV), Dietary Fiber 0um 1528mg (0% DV) Percent Daily Values DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.