Miso is just one of the traditional foods we’re exploring this March at Farro. Thought to have come from China originally and spread into Korea, Japan and a few other far reaches of Asia, the making of a soy based fermented paste is indeed ancient. Called by a number of different names through out China such as Dajiang and Douchi, Doenjang in Korea and Tauco in Indonesia, miso paste is made the same way using washed soy beans, plenty of salt and plenty of time.
The high protein in the soy beans allows for the release of amino acids during the fermentation process which combined with plenty of salt creates the golden taste that we know now to be called umami. Super savoury, umami when added into a dish through an ingredient such as miso or parmesan simply makes it just that more tasty and a great deal more desirable.
Here in New Zealand we now have the first locally produced miso being made by Urban Hippie.
Urban Hippie’s miso is the only handmade miso paste made in New Zealand. Their miso is fermented for over six months; it is also unpasteurised, so it has many health benefits that mass produced miso’s do not. The fermentation alone brings a great deal of good qualities for gut flora but being unpasteurized as well means it has all the good qualities that come with bacteria. As well as this, Urban Hippie make their miso from other locally produced products where possible, including Motueka grown soy beans and Blenheim made natural sea salt.
Takehito and Mie Maeda moved from Japan to Nelson in 2007 and an experimentation with home brewing and sourdough bread made them recall the traditional aspects of miso making –fermentation and patience. A chance meeting with local soy bean growers and 15 years as a chef, Takehito thought he try his hand at making his own as his grandmother did.
Urban Hippie’s products are not only fresh and locally produced; they are also easy to use and positively delicious! Making a miso based soup is quick and easy and can be a great way to start a more hearty pork or chicken based miso soups as well. Adding miso paste into a stir fry or to create a marinade where that intense umami flavour is at the forefront is a perfect way to add flavour.
You will find their paste a bit more textural than store bought mass produced versions which just shows its handmade nature.
Miso is full of nutrients, beneficial enzymes, amino acids, minerals and bacteria necessary for good health. These include Tryptophan; One of the essential amino acids that help with promoting healthy sleep and stable moods, Vitamin B12; Supports the production of red blood cells and prevents anemia. Said to be anti cancer in reducing the risk for breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancer but also a great aid to those under going radiation. Helps reduce the rate of heart disease. Has high levels of isoflavones that assist woman going through menopause and protect the body from osteoporosis and high in antioxidants that reduce the signs of ageing.
Pick up some Urban Hippie miso paste and some tofu next time you’re at your local Farro store and have a go at making your very own homemade miso soup!