Miso is a Valuable Food
Soybeans are full of high-quality protein and other nutrients, but these nutrients are unavailable to the body when the whole beans are served in their baked, boiled, or roasted forms. When the soybean goes through the process of natural fermentation, they go through a transformation in which almost all of their complex protein, carbohydrate, and lipid (oil or fat) molecules are broken down into readily digestible amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids.
One Cup a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
While in Japan, I experienced that a cup of miso soup in the morning starts the day, not a cup of coffee. It was not that long ago that the Japanese made their own miso at home and had pride in their homemade miso. Rice and miso are the staples of the Japanese diet. The production volume of miso in Japan is about 600,000 tons and about 3,000 tons are shipped overseas.
The Japanese believe health is dependent on eating habits and we are finally realizing the truth of that. They are known for their longevity in the world and much of this can be attributed to the health benefits from miso. An ancient saying refers to miso as a “doctor killer.”
How is Miso Made?
Koji, a yeast mold, is added to soybeans and other ingredients (rice and barley), which are then allowed to ferment. The time of fermentation can range from weeks to years; depending on the type of miso. Once the fermentation process is complete, it is then ground into a paste.
Two General Types of Miso Based on Color & Taste:
1. Sweet, light colored miso has been aged for less time, is higher in koji culture and carbohydrates, milder in taste, and lower in salt. It is good for salad dressings and other summer cooking. Sweet misos are also ideal for those with delicate digestive systems. A very diluted sweet miso broth can be tolerated by children as young as six months. Genmai, kome, shiro, and sometimes rice are all light misos.
2. Darker miso is aged longer (2-3 years), has stronger flavor, higher salt content and lower koji content. It is higher in protein and stronger in flavor.