This isn’t an article about Japanese food in Japan, but a fun read about miso — the soybean paste ingredient found in so many dishes it’s practically in all of them.

I’m kidding, but it really is common — almost as common as shoyu (soy sauce) and dashi (fish broth). You will find miso paste used in all sorts of Japanese food, and as a garnish or dip even.

Miso is one of those ingredients that really adds quite a lot to the cuisine, and is often said to add “umami” — that elusive 5th flavor.

Obviously, miso soup is ultra-common, but there are so many more uses it’s remarkable — and you can find it in pretty much every grocery store in Japan. And don’t be afraid of the many types of miso: white miso, red miso, yellow miso — some barley miso, rice miso, etc.

Experiment — mix it with things like olive oil, honey, lemon juice, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, and more — come up with your favorite condiment concoction. 

Use it in salad dressings, dips, marinades and glazes. Use it with vegetables: glazed carrots, sautéed spinach and greens, mashed into winter squash and pumpkin. Spread it on fish, poultry or meat to create an umami-rich glaze. Add it to a burger or meatloaf mixture, spread it on a roast chicken, add it to ketchup as a dip for French fries and baked potatoes […] There are truly endless possibilities.” (wbur)

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