When it comes to Japanese meals, miso soup is indispensable. This seemingly simple soup has a lot of depth in it, and the taste changes depending on the type of dashi (soup stock) and miso you use.
In this article, we'll talk a little bit about the history of miso, then show you 4 ways how to make miso soup in your kitchen. We have both standard and rare ingredients lined up, so we hope you enjoying trying different ones.
History of Miso
The first appearance of the word "miso" in Japanese literature can be traced back to the Nara period (around AD 715). Unlike its accessibility today, miso was a luxury item at the time and was used as income in-kind and as a gift for high-ranking people.
While people knew miso from a much earlier time, it was only during the Kamakura period (around 1185) that "miso soup" entered the public consciousness. It was from hereon that it became part of the basic diet of the Kamakura samurai. This diet was called "ichiju issai" which means a bowl of soup and one main dish. This also usually included a side dish as well as a pickled dish. Originally, the diet was considered to be simple and frugal, but nowadays it signifies a balanced meal.
Miso has also become part of the five basic seasonings in Japanese food, which is often remembered as the acronym "Sa-Shi-Su-Se-So"
Sa for "sato" or sugar; Shi for "shio" or salt; Su, which means vinegar; Se for "seuyu," the archaic term for soy sauce; and So for "miso."
Types and Flavors of Miso
In general, miso can be divided into four types: rice, wheat, bean, and mixed. Of these, rice miso makes up about 80% of production in Japan.
The flavor of miso can be described using the five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and packed with umami. These flavors are intricately intertwined and whether one taste is stronger than the other depends on where the ingredients are from and how long the miso was fermented.
As such, miso has a wide range of varieties. For example, the most produced type of miso, rice miso, consists of rice, soybean, and salt. In the Tokai region, however, miso made from only soybean and salt is more popular. In the Kyushu region, rice is replaced with wheat and mixed with soybeans. You can find different varieties from different regions in Japan, which makes trying out different ones all the more exciting.
Now that we know a little bit more about the background of miso, let's take a look at the 4 ways we can make it.
Miso Soup with Tofu and Wakame Seaweed
Tofu and wakame seaweed are two of the most common ingredients in Japanese miso soup. This miso soup variety is often served in both Japanese homes and restaurants. We recommend mastering this recipe, which both has a pleasing color contrast and good nutritional balance.
Miso soup is a staple Japanese dish. The broth is seasoned with miso, with vegetables, tofu, and seafood as the most common ingredients. Traditional Japanese cuisine usually includes miso soup. There ...
Asari Miso Soup / Miso Soup with Clams
You can use either red or miso paste in this recipe as both go well with clams. It's easy to make it too. You just have to pay extra attention to a few things, like making sure you remove the sand from the clams thoroughly and that you don't simmer the clams for a long time. You can also add ingredients of your choice, from vegetables like daikon radish and onions, to fish and meat.
Have a sip of this delicious miso soup that brings out the umami of clams. The dish is simple, but it's deeply rooted in Japanese culture.
Miso Soup with Ginger and Canned Salmon
This one's quick and easy because it uses canned salmon. It also has ginger, which can help fight bacteria, boost immunity, and warm the body from within. We especially recommend making this when you're feeling fatigued or have a cold.
Enjoy the umami of salmon and the earthy flavor of ginger in this zesty miso soup. Ginger is sure to warm you up on cold days, so we especially recommend this when the weather is freezing.
Soy Milk Miso Soup with Kabocha Squash & Asparagus
Miso and soy milk are both made from soybeans so they go very well together. Adding soy milk to your usual miso soup will give it a milder taste. Not to mention it's revitalizing, too.
The other stars of this recipe? Soft pumpkin and chewy asparagus. The different textures go well with the sweet and rich soup and you get a filling dish that warms the gut and the soul.
This soymilk-based miso soup is mild in taste. It brings out the texture and sweetness of the vegetables in it. Ideal on days you want something warm and gentle for the tummy.
Benefits of Miso
Miso is made from soybeans which are rich in high-quality protein. The process of fermentation allows these soybeans to produce even more nutrients. In addition to containing all nine essential amino acids, no other product contains so many nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.