The foundation of a Japanese meals lies in the concept of “ichijyu-sansai,” one soup (often miso soup) with three sides: to serve healthy, balanced, and tasty meals. Today, miso soup is enjoyed by three-quarters of the Japanese population at least once a day.
What is Miso Soup?
A typical miso soup is made with dashi, Japanese stock, miso paste and consists of wakame seaweed, cubed tofu, and chopped scallions. However, there are many miso soup variations, depending on the region, household, and season: miso soup can have seasonal vegetables, local fish and clams, and meat.
Click here for our Butajiru recipe: a country-style miso soup with root vegetables and pork.
What is Miso?
Miso is fermented bean paste widely used in Japanese cooking: made by crushing boiled soybeans mixed with koji mold to ferment for up to three years. Depending on the type and region, rice, barley, and wheat are mixed with crushed soybeans to make miso. There are many different kinds of miso, each with its flavor, aroma, color, and texture, but the most popular are white and red miso. Generally speaking, red miso have a higher volume of soybeans and salt, giving them a rich, deep flavor and color. These types of miso are most prevalent in northern regions. White and yellow miso, on the contrary, is light in color and mild in flavor.
Many Japanese dishes and cooking styles using miso are soups, dressings, marinades, dips, spreads, and desserts such as cookies and ice cream.
Delicious Recipes using Miso:
- Citrus Miso Marinated Salmon
- Sesame Miso Dressing
- Butajiru, Country Style Miso Soup with Pork and Root Vegetables
- Soba Noodle Salad
- Miso Itame
- Roasted Beets Salad with Miso Dressing and Walnuts
- Fisherman’s Wife’s Miso Braised Berkshire Pork
Miso (fermented soybean) was first introduced in Japan from China during the Asuka period (592-710); however, it was not until the Kamakura period (1185-1333) when the “ichijyu-sansai” concept started to gain popularity and people began to use miso in making soup. The Kamakura period was also known as the Japanese civil war era, and miso soup was cooked at the battlefield to feed soldiers healthy and nutritious meals.
Miso is packed with protein with delightful aroma and taste and is considered Japan’s healthy staple food for centuries. Miso also has high level of minerals like zinc, copper, and is antioxidants. Because miso is a fermented food, it is full of beneficial bacteria for your gut.
Join our Edible Japan Tour and see miso making in Shinshu, Japan.
- 4 cups dashi Japanese soup stock
- 1/4 cup miso When choosing miso, consider purchasing miso without added MSG, soup stock, or flavor. Many grocery stores carry organic and all-natural miso, including non-GMO soybeans and rice, which are excellent choices.
- 2 tablespoon dried wakame
- 8 oz silken tofu
- 2 green onions green parts only
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce optional
- 1 teaspoon mirin optional
- Gather ingredients.
- Reconstitute wakame in a bowl with water, about 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
- Cut tofu into cubes.
- Chop green onions.
- In a small bowl, mix miso with ½ cup of dashi and set it aside.
- On a stove top, heat dashi in a medium soup pot. When it’s hot, add miso mixture. Make sure miso dissolves completely. Taste and add more miso if necessary. Note: if using miso with soybean pieces, strain and dissolve the miso by placing a fine shiver over dashi.
- Add tofu, wakame, and green onions. Season to taste with soy sauce and mirin (optional).
- Serve hot.