Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and a mold called “koji.”
Sometimes other ingredients, like barley, rice, buckwheat, amaranth or seaweed, are added to the mixture. The end product is a thick paste that is used in many ways.
Miso has a salty, earthy, savory flavor, offering great umami flavor to many dishes. It is high in protein and full of vitamins and minerals. Since it is a fermented food, it is a natural source of healthy probiotics that aids digestion.
There are two common types of miso. There is a darker, brownish-red type of miso that is popular in the eastern portion of Japan that includes Tokyo. A lighter or white miso is popular in the western region where Osaka and Kyoto are located.
Different types of miso can be used interchangeably in recipes. The darker type will add a slightly stronger taste.
Miso made from soybeans is gluten free, but those containing other grains are not, so it is important to read labels if one is gluten intolerant.
Miso can be purchased as a paste. It comes in a sealed container and must be refrigerated after opening.
Most people are familiar with miso soup, but it is also a main ingredient in other Japanese dishes. It is often added to ramen and udon noodle dishes. Miso-glazed foods can be found in Japanese supermarkets and festivals. Overheating foods containing miso will kill the healthy bacteria, so it is advised to heat foods containing this ingredient until they are hot, but not boiling.
I had been waiting for this year’s zucchini harvest to try this miso-glazed zucchini recipe. It is a quick and tasty side dish.
Miso-Glazed Grilled Zucchini
• 2 tablespoons white miso
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
• 4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
Preheat outdoor grill on medium heat. In small bowl, whisk together miso, honey, soy sauce and vinegar.
Lightly brush zucchini with oil. Transfer zucchini to grill and cook 3 minutes on each side until tender.
Brush with miso glaze and serve immediately.