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Correspondence with my Daughter: Miso

January 27, 2012
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This is something new my daughter and I decided to do together and we hope you enjoy!!

Dear Mom,

I have a confession to make…the other night I made a disaster of a dinner! I wanted to surprise Ian with something yummy after his evening class and thought I would try something new. Miso soup is one of his favorites. He always judges a sushi restaurant based on their miso soup (and also how much they charge for it! He believes $1.75 is appropriate, haha.) At our last trip to Whole Foods, we found some miso so I decided to test it out. I tried to pump up the normal soup (which is essentially broth, and not a sufficient meal) with some dumplings and vegetables.

To my dismay, the soup came out tasting like a bowl of melted playdough….and I am most certainly blaming that Miso because after further inspection with a smell test, that miso smelled exactly like PLAYDOUGH. Bleck.

So I think my main problem was that it was “brown rice miso” whatever that means. It made the broth like dark brown (I’m going to spare you from the picture), and usually miso is white. Ian ended up actually eating it…I’m not sure how. I salvaged the dumplings for myself and added them to some chicken stock. Definitely not one of my shining moments…haha.

Love Always,



Dearest Sarah,

I am not familiar with Miso at all.  You are definitely the more adventurous cook in our family!

But to answer your question about what happened to your soup, I found the best answer from a newsletter produced by The George Mateljan Foundation:  Miso.  These are two excerpts from it:


Miso is a fermented soybean paste whose salty taste, buttery texture and unique nutritional profile make it a versatile condiment for a host of different recipes, including traditional miso soup. In addition to soybeans, some misos also feature rice, barley, or wheat.

Miso is made by adding a yeast mold (known as “koji”) to soybeans and other ingredients and allowing them to ferment. The fermentation time, ranging from weeks to years, depends upon the specific type of miso being produced. Once this process is complete, the fermented ingredients are ground into a paste similar in texture to nut butter.

The color, taste, texture, and degree of saltiness depend upon the exact ingredients used and the duration of the fermentation process. Miso ranges in color from white to brown. The lighter varieties are less salty and more mellow in flavor while the darker ones are saltier and have a more intense flavor. Some misos are pasteurized while others are not.

The different types of miso include:

  • hatcho miso (made from soybeans)
  • kome miso (made from white rice and soybeans)
  • mugi miso (made from barley and soybeans)
  • soba miso (made from buckwheat and soybeans)
  • genmai miso (made from brown rice and soybeans)
  • natto miso (made from ginger and soybeans)

While miso is the Japanese name we are most familiar with in the United States, this fermented soybean paste is also known as “chiang” in China, and “chao do” in Vietnam.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Miso soup is quick and easy to prepare. Heat miso paste and water over low-medium heat. Eat as is or add in some traditional fixings including shiitake mushrooms, tofu, scallions, burdock, carrots, and daikon radish.

Miso-tahini sandwiches are one of our favorites. To make your own, just spread miso on a piece of bread and then top with tahini. Enjoy as is or add sliced avocado.

Use miso as an ingredient in marinades for meat, fish, poultry or game.

Carry dried miso soup packets with you and enjoy them as a pick-me-up coffee substitute.

Combine a little miso with olive oil, flax seed oil, ginger and garlic to make an Asian-inspired dressing that can be used on salads or cold grain dishes.


So, it seems  that you made your soup with genmai miso, one of the very dark misos.   From the description above, I would give the hatcho miso a try for your next soup and see how it goes!

I will be doing the same with the little quick recipe above.

All my love,


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