Meatless Monday: Magnificent Miso

This Meatless Monday cook up a tasty rice bowl featuring probiotic-rich miso – the soybean paste with umami taste.

Often associated with platefuls of sushi, miso soup is a wonderful food on its own, both in taste and nutrition. Made from fermented soybeans, miso is a thick, salty paste that adds depth of flavour to a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, marinades, and salad dressings.

Although miso generally refers to soybeans, often grains such as barley, rice, or buckwheat are added to the paste during fermentation to achieve a specific taste or colour. Typically, white miso contains more white rice and has a shorter fermentation time, whereas yellow miso often contains barley. Red miso’s colour may be the result of soybeans being steamed before fermentation, as well as its lengthier fermentation period.

Whichever miso you choose, however, keep in mind that soybeans are the primary ingredient and often you can substitute one for the other in recipes.

The main nutritional benefit of miso is its probiotic content, thanks to the fermentation process. Probiotics have been shown in scientific research to provide immune protection, ease diarrhea, prevent colon cancer, and offer relief from IBS.

In addition, miso is high in protein thanks to the soybeans, and contains notable levels of vitamin K, vitamin B6, manganese, zinc, copper, and iron.

It’s important to note, however, that the miso we typically get from our local Japanese take-out dive is a sorry excuse for the real thing. To enjoy the health benefits of miso while also experiencing its true flavour, choose an organic miso paste from your local natural health food store.

Cooking with miso
Miso’s  signature umami flavour makes it a welcome addition to vegetarian dishes in particular, as it provides richness without the addition of meat. This Meatless Monday try this mouthwatering recipe from Irene McGuiness’s “Fabulous Fermented Foods.”

Rice Bowl with Grilled Veggies and Miso Gravy
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable stock
2 Tbsp (30 mL) light miso paste
2 Tbsp (30 mL) coconut oil
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil 
2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) chili paste 
1 large garlic clove, smashed and finely minced
1 tsp (5 mL) peeled and grated ginger root 
Freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon 
2 Tbsp (30 mL) spelt flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and quartered 
1 large zucchini, diagonally sliced into 1/4 in (0.5 cm) rounds 
1/4 lb (125 g) asparagus spears 
2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
1/2 bunch green onions, trimmed 
3 cups (750 mL) cooked brown jasmine rice 
1 bunch cilantro, chopped 
1 Tbsp (15 mL) sesame seeds

Combine stock, miso, coconut and sesame oils, maple syrup, chili paste, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice in medium-sized saucepan. Whisk together to blend. Heat until just about boiling.

In separate bowl, combine flour and water and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk into warmed stock and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until gravy is thickened. Cover and set aside while preparing remaining ingredients.

Lightly brush pepper, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, and green onions with oil and grill on preheated barbecue grill until slightly golden but still crisp.

To serve, place 3/4 cup (180 mL) cooked rice in the centre of 4 deep serving bowls. Pour a ladle of warm gravy over top of each. Top each with grilled vegetables, cilantro, and sesame seeds.

Serves 6.

Each serving contains: 265 calories; 7 g protein; 10 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 39 g carbohydrates (5 g sugars, 5 g fibre); 377 mg sodium


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