Miso Soup is a firm favourite in many Japanese restaurants. It’s nutritious, delicious, and warming – so what’s not to love? Wellness expert Katie Graham shows us how you can incorporate it into some easy everyday meals.
On a recent trip to NYC, I started noticing miso on menus, from café breakfast menus to the infamous miso black cod on the menu at Buddakan. Using this as inspiration, I started playing around with Spiral Food's range of miso pastes, and fell in love with this flavourful ingredient!
In this story you'll find where my inspiration came from, a couple of ways you can use miso in your cooking, a little bit about why it's good for you and what other Japanese ingredients you can play with.
Easy peasy Japanese-y!
1. Breakfast inspiration
My first "surprising" encounter with miso was on the breakfast menu at Egg Shop on the Lower East Side. Here they did a breakfast bowl called "Spandex", which was miso quinoa as the base, topped with pickled carrot, farm greens and a poached egg (and optional chilli).
2. My mi-so lovely breakfast bowl
Using this as inspiration, I made my own twist on it which I've called, "mi-so lovely".
How to make miso quinoa?
Combine 2 cups water and 1 part quinoa in a saucepan, turn heat to high and bring to the boil. Turn heat off, stir in 1 tbsp Spiral Food's brown miso paste, cover and let sit for 12-15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. It is cooked when a little tail appears.
Note: miso quinoa keeps for up to 4-5 days in the fridge and can be used for breakfasts with eggs, in other salads or as a side for dinners.
Mi-so lovely breakfast bowl recipe
As the miso is cooking, prep 2-3 stalks of green / purple kale (removing the leaves from the stalks and roughly chopping it) and a handful of English spinach (remember these greens reduce to nothing when cooked), boil water in a saucepan for the greens and get a second saucepan ready to poach an egg. Just before you're ready to eat, poach the egg and steam the greens in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds before draining them and adding some olive oil.
Make your bowl with 1/2 cup miso on the bottom, about 1/2 cup steamed greens then your 1-2 poached eggs on top and sprinkle with black / white sesame seeds, chilli flakes / powder (optional) and seaweed sprinkles.
It made a really delicious breakfast, and I made sure I had enough quinoa leftover to use as the base of a Japanese style salad for a work lunch and as a side with simple poached chicken and steamed greens for an easy mid-week dinner.
3. Miso trout
Taking inspiration from Buddakan’s delicious miso black cod, here's my recipe for miso trout.
How to make miso glazed trout?
Make a marinade in a large bowl by mixing 3 tbsp pale (shiro) miso paste, 2 tbsp mirin and 1 tbsp agave syrup. Add 2 ocean trout fillets (you can also use salmon) to the bowl and cover in the marinade. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for 2 hours (they say anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight for miso marinated fish).
To cook, heat the oven to 200 degrees (fan forced / celsius) and place the fish on a baking tray (I always use baking paper as I hate cleaning baking trays) skin side down for 15 minutes until the fish is lovely and flaky.
What to have it with?
I serve mine with brown or mixed wild rice, Japanese-inspired coleslaw (grated carrot, finely sliced red and white cabbage and raw grated zucchini, dressed with mirin vinegar and lemon juice) or steamed greens, topped with a drizzle of sesame oil and sesame seeds.
4. A bit about miso and other Japanese ingredients
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans in salt and usually rice. As well as packing a flavour punch, it has loads of great health benefits and is pretty good for your gut health.
Where to find miso paste?
You should be able to find a variety of miso pastes (give the white, brown or red a try) at most health food stores and Asian supermarkets. I always try to find a good quality and preferably organic one, so always check the back of the packs to find a good quality one that’s been fermented properly, and doesn’t contain preservatives and other hidden ingredients.
How to store it?
It's important to remember it’s living (because it’s fermented) so needs to be kept refrigerated.
Other Japanese ingredients
Have a look for other Japanese ingredients in the health food store or Asian supermarket. You may have guessed my preferred brand is Spiral Foods.
Pictured here are konbu seasoning on the left and nori seaweed sprinkles on the right (with miso paste in the middle). Konbu is a great way to bolster Japanese flavours when cooking (great in quinoa) and nori / seaweed is great to add on top of salads and other dishes. My other favourite is the Japanese Shichimi Togarashi (or 7-flavour-chilli powder) which you can add to everything for a spice kick!