Red Miso Tofu Soup

 As I began preparing my lunch in the office today I started to smell beer. Bringing the freshly opened bag of red miso paste to my nose I quickly sniffed it and lo and behold it DID smell like beer! Something I haven’t had in months in an effort to get ready for bathing suit season so I don’t look like 10 pounds of sausage in a two-pound casing.

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I added two tablespoons of paste to my soup bowl, filled it with hot water and stirred the mixture until the paste had melted/dissolved. I added chucked, extra firm tofu, heated it up in the microwave for one minute and thirty seconds and enjoyed every lovin’ spoonful!

In my quest to find out why red miso smells like and slightly tastes like beer I found the following information:

Red Miso: This is also typically made from soybeans fermented with barley or other grains, though with a higher percentage of soybeans and/or a longer fermentation period. It can range in color from red to dark brown.  The deep umami flavor of red miso can overwhelm mild dishes, but is perfect for hearty soups, braises, and glazes.
There you go – BARLEY! Add in some hops and yeast and you could make a (virgin) red miso beer!
Just in case you were wondering about other colors of miso……………..

White Miso: This miso is made from soybeans that have been fermented with a large percentage of rice. The actual resulting color can range from white to light beige, and the miso has a definite sweet taste. It’s best used in condiments like mayo or salad dressings, or in light sauces.

Yellow Miso: Yellow miso is usually made from soybeans that have been fermented with barley and sometimes a small percentage of rice. It can be yellow to light brown in color. This miso has a mild, earthy flavor and is better for general use in not only condiments, but soup, marinades, and glazes.

Black Miso: Our information on black miso isn’t entirely clear. Some sources say this paste is made entirely from soybeans, others say that it’s made from soybeans fermented with hearty dark grains like buckwheat.

REMEMBER:The depth of color with any particular miso can also tell you something about its flavor. Generally speaking, the darker the color, the longer it’s been fermented and the stronger it will taste. Both yellow and red misos can sometimes be labeled “barley miso,” so check the actual color of the paste for an indication of how mild or strong it is.

I can’t wait to experiment with this deliciously versatile ingredient!

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