2.26.10 Miso Hungry
Not sure how many of you read New York magazine, but I wanted to point out that we scooped them this week! (Did I say "we"? I guess I mean me, and of course, you, gentle reader.) They featured a round-up of salts that followed on the heels of mine, and I was pleased to note that food critic Adam Platt's favorite is the same: Maldon sea salt. This whole round-up idea seems to be a hit around here, so I will plan to offer more. Next up, sometime in the near future: vinegars.Of late I have been obsessed with the notion of creating a miso-butterscotch pudding. You can imagine just by looking at that photo of miso, above, how these two luscious flavors might go well together, right? I need an afternoon to putter around in the kitchen and develop this recipe; hopefully some time will free up soon. I'm betting most of you don't eat much miso, but I think you'd really like it. It's produced by fermenting soy beans (or rice, barley, buckwheat and even hemp) with salt and a fungus (koji), and the resulting flavor is variously described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity and savory. (Hello, umami?) There are different types of miso—red, white, yellow, mixed—and they are all subtly different. Generally, yellow miso is slightly sweete; red miso is stronger and saltier; and white, commonly used for miso soup, is the most delicate. Apparently some of the nutrition in miso—including zinc, phosphorus, manganese, protein and copper—is destroyed through cooking, so it's often stirred into dishes late in the game. I'm sure you've had miso soup, right? A dashi broth with the paste stirred in at the end. Recently on Food52, someone submitted a recipe for oatmeal with miso stirred in after cooking. There are quite a few ways to incorporate this versatile seasoning—spread it on a sandwich, mix it into salad dressing, into rice, even into mashed potatoes. I recently posted a recipe for short ribs with miso. It's actually quite versatile, and can lend its earthy, salty goodness to many foods beyond Asian cuisine. Stay tuned for the miso-butterscotch pudding, but meanwhile here are a couple of easy ways for you to try it.
photo by george billardThe miso-butter and the miso-walnut sauces, below, are both good on any number of vegetables in addition to the ones in these recipes.JAPANESE TURNIPS WITH MISOfrom Gourmet, September 2009serves 43 tablespoons white miso3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided3 pounds small (1 1/2-to 2-inch) Japanese turnips with greens1 1/3 cups water2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)Stir together miso and 2 tablespoons butter.Discard turnip stems and coarsely chop leaves. Halve turnips (leave whole if tiny) and put in a 12-inch heavy skillet along with water, mirin, remaining tablespoon butter, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then boil, covered, 10 minutes. Add greens by handfuls, turning and stirring with tongs and adding more as volume in skillet reduces.Cover and cook 1 minute. Uncover and continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until turnips are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes. Stir in miso butter and cook 1 minute.GREEN BEANS WITH MISO-WALNUT SAUCEfrom Mark Bittman in the Times serves 4Salt10 ounces green beans, strings removed1 inch-long piece ginger2 tablespoons light (sweet) miso1/2 cup shelled walnut meats1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, or to tasteBring pot of water to a boil and salt it; blanch beans in water until they are bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water, then drain again. Place in a serving bowl.Grate ginger over bowl, then place in small fine strainer and press out juice, about a teaspoon. Combine ginger juice with miso, walnuts, 2 tablespoons water and soy sauce in blender and blend until smooth, stopping machine and scraping down sides if necessary. (You may add a little water or soy sauce if mixture is too thick.)Toss beans in sauce, and serve at room temperature.