Cooking Delights

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Miso Soup and Noodles

Here are some really simple and quick to prepare recipes from Nava Atlas' The Vegetarian 5 Ingredient Gourmet. I love this cook book because it has loads of easy recipes that are quick to the table. Here I cooked an Asian style soup. I actually changed the recipe quite a bit. I used miso for the first time which was really lovely.

The salty taste and buttery texture of miso, a fermented soybean paste originating in Japan, is becoming increasingly popular in the West as a versatile condiment for a host of different recipes. Once only found in specialty stores, miso is available year round in many local supermarkets.

Although miso is usually made from soybeans, it can also be produced from rice, barley or wheat by adding a yeast mold (known as "koji") and other ingredients that are allowed 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.

Miso is a soy paste that is created by inoculating trays of rice with the vitamin B12 synthesizing fungus, Aspergillus oryzae, then mixing in a ground preparation of cooked soybeans and salt, and letting the mixture ferment for several days before grinding it into a paste with a nut butter consistency. Because it is fermented with a B12-synthesizing bacteria, miso has been commonly recommended as a B12 source for vegans. Miso is quite high in sodium (1 ounce contains 52% of the recommended daily value for sodium), but a little miso goes a long way towards providing your daily needs for the trace minerals zinc, manganese, and copper. In addition, a single tablespoon of miso contains 2 grams of protein for just 25 calories. An impressive nutrient profile for a flavoring agent! Use miso in your cooking instead of plain old salt and reap a variety of benefits in addition to enhanced flavor.

The soup also has some wonderfully healthy baby green bok choy. I think it was shanghai bok choy? Anyway it was a pretty green with no white parts!

I served the soup with some simple brown rice noodles flavoured with sesame oil. Another recipe from Nava Atlas' The Vegetarian 5 Ingredient Gourmet.


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