Skip the soup and make way for peanut butter cookies! Miso, a savory-sweet Japanese soybean paste, may be best known in the U.S. as soup at the sushi bar, but that’s just the start. Miso paste’s natural sweetness and buttery richness intensify the flavor of recipes sweet and savory, and its umami depth works particularly well in gingery dressings, marinades and glazes—even cookies.
Here are five surprising miso recipes:
For an umami-packed weeknight meal, this recipe combines the convenience of a chicken tray bake with a few Japanese staples to delicious effect. We coat bone-in chicken thighs, as well as mushrooms and scallion whites, with a mixture of white miso, the sweet rice wine mirin, grated ginger and a couple tablespoons of soy sauce. The mushrooms release moisture as they roast, which not only prevents the drippings from scorching but also creates juices that become a rich sauce for the chicken.
Miso’s salty side makes it an ideal pairing for sweets. Think salted caramel! That’s why were were so captivated by the peanut butter-miso cookies from Falco Bakery in Melbourne, Australia. Our adaptation of those sweet-salty, chewy-crunchy treats includes buttery white miso that makes the cookies taste full and complex. Coarse turbinado sugar gives the cookies a glittery appearance and an appealing crunch.
Think of this quick recipe as an elevated version of creamed corn—a sweet-savory side dish with more umami flavor and none of the dairy heft. Corn kernels are browned in skillet with scallion whites and ginger, and a simple mixture of white miso and sake dresses the warm kernels. In the summer, plump, tender kernels cut from ears of fresh sweet corn are the best choice, but out of season an equal amount of frozen corn kernels that have been thawed and patted dry will work; they’ll just take a few minutes longer to brown.
For better chicken salad, skip the heavy mayonnaise and whip up this rich yet bright miso-based dressing in a blender. Then toss it with the shredded meat of a store-bought rotisserie chicken. The result is simple, but packed with flavor. Ginger, lime juice and Dijon mustard give the dressing a piquant tang that balances the richness and salt content, and a teaspoon of honey complements its natural sugars. Sliced cucumber and a generous dose of herbs add freshness, and slivered almonds bring a pleasing crunch.
In the Southern kitchen, smothering typically refers to braising meats in gravy, a process than yields tender meat but can take time to build flavor. Instead, chef Edward Lee, author of “Smoke and Pickles,” builds his braise from ingredients that come to the kitchen already loaded with savory flavor—dark miso, bourbon and soy sauce. Our adaptation includes shiitake mushrooms and sweet-tangy orange juice, which offsets the richness of the sauce. By using such bold ingredients from the outset, the chicken needs only about a half hour of simmering to cook and let the flavors meld.
Please share in the comments which of these recipes you like the most!
Learn more about miso through the The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center (JFOODO).