Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a dried bonito and kelp stock called “dashi”, into which softened miso paste is mixed. The choice of miso paste for the miso soup defines a great deal of its character and flavor.
Miso pastes (a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and the fungus Aspergillus oryzae, known in Japanese as kōjikin (麹菌), and sometimes rice, barley, or other ingredients) can be categorized into red (akamiso), white (shiromiso), or mixed (awase).
A miso paste that has been fermented for a longer period of time, such as a red miso, gives the miso soup a stronger, deeper flavor. A miso paste that has been fermented for a shorter period of time, such as a white miso, provides a lighter, sweeter flavor.
More than 80% of Japan’s total annual production of miso goes into miso soup, and 75% of all Japanese consume miso soup at least once a day.
Miso soup was studied after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, by a physician named Tatuichiro Akizuki. Even though he and 20 other employees were in Nagasaki treating patients with acute tuberculosis, they did not develop radiation disease. He figured out it was because he and his staff consumed large amounts of wakame miso soup. Wakame is a type of seaweed that has also been shown to help reduce radiation damage.
! Buy the most expensive konbu kelp and Wakame seaweed you can find – it’s only a few dollars. Look for konbu with a lot of white powder on it, this is where all the umami flavor is concentrated! DO NOT WASH THIS POWDER OFF!!!
For the dried bonito flakes, again go with the most expensive brand – again, it’s only a few dollars for a bag.
You’ll enjoy the finest miso soup you’ll have outside of a top restaurant in Japan, I promise!
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