Japanese miso paste is made from soybeans, cereals (that is, steamed rice or barley), salt and koji culture (a fermentation starter) by fermentation. It is available in different variants, which – due to the fermentation time and the ingredients used – differ in color and taste. The most common variety is white Shiro Miso, which is very popular in miso soups.
Have you ever asked yourself: what is miso? It is a purely vegetable, fermented and very spicy paste made from soy, which is an indispensable part of Japanese cuisine. In addition to the main ingredients soybeans and water, koji is an important ingredient. This mold is responsible for fermentation and gives it the unique aroma. Depending on the variety, wheat, barley and rice are also used in the production. The special taste of miso paste is called umami and was discovered in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century.
Miso paste has a tradition of over 2000 years in the Asian region. The original form was developed in China in the 5th century BC. In its current form, it comes from Japan, where it established itself as a popular ingredient from 700 AD. Thanks to the spread of Asian cuisine, it is now also widely used in the Western world.
Miso paste (or just miso) is a fermented soybean paste and one of the world’s most famous ingredients of Japanese cuisine. The paste is very flexible and can be used in a variety of ways: hearty and sweet dishes are prepared with it and it serves as a spice, marinade or dip.
Doused with hot water, miso is even an independent dish in a few moments! You can find everything about miso, which is already eaten for breakfast in Japan as a delicious miso soup or as a side dish together with eggplant, in this post.
The origins of miso – as with many other Japanese foods – are not clearly definable. It seems certain that the paste came to Japan either from Korea or China. Some historians date this to the time shortly before the introduction of Buddhism in Japan, i.e. in the years between 540 and 552 (you can find out more about the historical background in the article below!).
Presumably, the miso, which was later produced in Japan, was created on the basis of the Miso-Dama technique, which is common in Korea. The cooked soybeans are crushed, shaped into balls and wrapped with “wild” mushroom spores of the koji. Together with salt and water, the balls were then fermented in clay jugs to form various miso variants.
What do miso taste like?
What is miso made of?
Why is miso so good for you?
Is miso salty or sweet?