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Goin’ Japanesque!

Try Eating Miso: The Japanese Super Food

Japanese food is unique even to the eyes of people overseas; there are a lot of things that have no equivalent. For example, there is sushi, soba noodles, udon noodles, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, onigiri, tsukemono, natto…the list doesn’t end. There are savory and sour flavors, tastes that are strange like natto and there’s also foods like sushi which is very delicate and express the characteristic of the Japanese to be really into details. Washoku or Japanese food often looks for aesthetic beauty in food as well.

Additionally, as recognized worldwide nowadays, Japanese food is very healthy. Among the healthy ingredients, there is the “miso”. Miso is one of the most distinctly Japanese ingredients and is something that cannot be taken out of the Japanese diet.

 

Miso, A Food Ingredient that Only Exists in Japan

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Miso is made by fermenting mashed soybeans with salt and koji (fungus Aspergillus Oryzae) (Writer’s Photo)

Currently in Japan there are several hundred types of miso, but the basic method of making it is the same. Soy bean that is boiled until soft is mashed using the hands or stick. Once finely mashed, salt and koji (fungus Aspergillus Oryzae) are added and mixed further. Once fully blended, the mixture is put into a wooden or ceramic pail then left to sit at room temperature for about a year. This lets the mixture ferment turning the mixture into a delicious miso paste. The method of making is quite simple, so in the old days, miso was made in any household. Nowadays, due to the change in lifestyle, miso is not often made in the average household. However, you will still find miso in any household as a necessary seasoning for the Japanese.

This miso has quite a long history that dates back to the Jomon Period (around 12,000BC). However, it is not fully known how it was invented. In any case, all Japanese people would be thankful for the first creators of miso. It was in Edo Period (1603-1867) when the miso started to be fully recognized as a seasoning. It was from there people started experimenting with miso – various types of miso were developed as well was ways to make more delicious miso. Currently, miso is used in various kinds of cooking. Using good miso can turn any dish into something even more delicious.

 

The Most Basic Way of Eating Miso: Miso Soup

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Miso Soup with Pumpkin (Writer’s Photo)

The most basic way of eating miso is to use it in miso shiru or miso soup. It is simple for anyone to make and most Japanese eat it at least once a day.

It’s very simple to make. Put some water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, put in bonito flakes or kelp to make the broth. Once the broth is made, you put in any vegetables or seaweed to your liking. For example, daikon radish, green onion, potato, wakame (seaweed), tofu etc. Once the ingredients are heated and cooked, take it off heat, melt the miso paste in the broth and you’re finished. You can make it in as little as 10 minutes.

Also, different families will use different types of miso or ingredients in the miso soup. So if you visit a relative or a friend and eat miso soup served there, there can be some new discoveries so it can be interesting. One thing to add is that miso shiru is mainly a soup that is to be drunk, so the amount of ingredients should be adjusted accordingly.

 

Miso is Japan’s Super-food!

I actually made miso soup for breakfast.

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Miso Soup is a Necessary Part of the Everyday Japanese Meal (Writer’s Photo)

Miso has a lot of nutrients and it can be recognized as a Japanese super-food. Similar to the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, the miso also has the saying “miso soup is an iv drip in a drink”. If you drink miso soup even once a day, the nutrients will be absorbed in your body, thus helping you become healthier.

The reason miso has so many nutrients is because of the fermentation process. By fermenting soy beans, the initially small amount of nutrients can grow, or new nutrients can be developed through the process. Among the nutrients, there are the 8 types of necessary amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, pantothenic acid and biotin. There are also inorganic substances such as sodium, potassium, iron and zinc. There are many other nutrients in miso, so you see it is a dish that can make you healthy just by eating.

Miso can also have other positive effects, for example, lowering the risk of cancer or the risk of lifestyle-related diseases. It prevents aging and helps prevent high blood pressure. It is indeed the food that supports Japanese longevity.

 

Miso, a unique food from the unique country of Japan; the flavor is also unique and it is said that there is not a similar flavor anywhere else in the world. Miso is filled with Japanese history and culture and it also contains a lot of opportunity for the future. Tasting the miso, which seems to have various elements of Japanese culture condensed in it, you may be able to learn more about Japan.

Related: 
7 Superfoods from Japan: How About a Natto Bowl instead of Acai Bowl?
Only for Those in the Know! Sugamo, the Town of Longevity and Health

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FJ

About the author

Hi! My name is FJ. Travelling is fun and it's something that gives you life lessons and enriches your life. I hope travelling to Japan becomes one of those times for you too. I'm here hoping to help you have good times in Japan by providing information and tips on many kinds of things. Enjoy your travels!

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