Chow Town

April 6, 2014

Miso madness

What a relief to vigorously wave goodbye to March Madness.

Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

What a relief to vigorously wave goodbye to March Madness.

The weather was crazier than a mad hatter this year and the basketball brackets couldn’t have been more mixed up.

What a sense of peace to bid adieu to the frenzy of March Madness and the many snack foods associated with watching basketball from a soft sofa.

As in life one madness can quickly be replaced with another madness. In my book the “new” madness on the block is miso.

Granted miso has been around for hundreds of years, but it seems only recently that it has appeared on menu after menu, in food magazines and has become a food buzz word. It is believed that miso originated in China. Today miso is almost always associated with Japanese cuisine.

What is miso? Essentially, miso is fermented soybean paste that has the addition of barley, rice or rye. The grain and soybean mixture has a fungus called kojikin added to the paste.

Miso resembles peanut butter in texture and comes in a plethora of varieties. This ingredient is found in soups, broths, salad dressings, marinades, sauces, pickles and so much more.

The white or shiro miso is pale yellow with a very mild, salty-sweet flavor. Yellow or shinshu miso is a golden yellow color with a mild salty flavor. Reddish brown or mugi miso has a distinct salty-sweet flavor. Reddish yellow or sendai miso is salty and has a pungent flavor. Dark or hatcho miso (a reddish brown color) is thick with a strong salt taste and a pungent flavor.

Typically the lighter miso is used in more delicate recipes such as sauces or soups while the darker colored miso is used in heavier dishes. The more soybeans that are used in miso the darker and stronger the flavor.

Miso is slowly becoming readily available in the supermarket. You will always find miso in an Asian market. It must be refrigerated and because it is already fermented, miso will last a very long time in the refrigerator. Don’t allow the miso to dry out.

Miso Dressing 1 tablespoon white or yellow miso 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger 1 minced garlic clove 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil 2 tablespoons peanut oil 2 tablespoons plain yogurt 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth or place all ingredients into a deep container and use an immersion blender to process until smooth.

This dressing is especially good for salads made with heavier lettuce or spinach or as a drizzle on cooked vegetables.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Marta Rose Shulman that was previously published in

The New York Times


Roxanne Wyss is one of two cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. Her most recent cookbook is Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining. She develops the recipes for the “Eating for Life” column for The Kansas City Star and is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She blogs at

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