For centuries Japanese artisans have been fermenting grains and soybeans with koji to make what’s considered a super food. An essential ingredient in many dishes but who can forget the humblest of them all miso soup.
white miso with silken tofu, komatsuna, maitake and enoki mushrooms and chopped green onion.
Miso soup, rice and pickles are the main components of any ichiju-sansai or ichiju-Issai zen Buddhist meal or a kenchin-Jiru soup, a root vegetable and tofu soup with miso.
miso soup with shimeji mushrooms, mizuna,daikon, aburaage and Japanese sweet potato.
Miso is a source of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals from iron and B vitamins to calcium and protein. This ingredient is often used to restore health and prevent illness and many people in Japan have miso everyday. There are many different types of miso depending on what has been used to make it. The cooked grains or beans are mixed with koji aspergillus culture water and salt and left to naturally ferment at room temperature for up to two years. Gradually the enzymes supplied by the koji breaks down the beans or grains into fatty acids, amino acids and simple sugars.
When you go shopping for miso there is a wide variety to choose from some are white and sweet and some are dark and earthy, choose ones that are made naturally preferably organic and unpasteurised.
Miso soup with mushrooms,cabbage,tofu and watercress.
When making miso soup start with dashi, in Japan this is often made with fish flakes called bonito,but a simple kombu dashi will work fine for vegans. Just soak a piece of kombu over night in water and gently simmer for 10 mins then remove.
why not try adding some Yuzu rind to your kombu dashi for a touch of citrus flavour.
You can experiment with different ingredients from carrots, mushrooms,radish,seaweed and tofu along with different kinds of miso to find your favourite but here is some inspiration for you. Cook your veggies first before adding your miso. Never boil your miso as this will destroy the natural beneficial enzymes. The best thing is to take a little warm cooking liquid and ladle some into a bowl, add your miso and dissolve then put this into your pan.
I normally use 1/2 litre of kombu dashi with two tablespoons of miso but you might like it stronger or weaker depending on the miso your using. Who would of thought a simple miso soup could have so many possibilities. You could even experiment with combining different miso together.
Leeks, mushrooms and vegetables
In Japan on New Year’s Day there is a special soup called Ozoni which is eaten for breakfast as part of Osechi Ryori ( New Years food) with a Mochi rice cake. The kansai style uses sweet white miso why not try having this and follow the Japanese traditions even if you can’t be in Japan right now.