Miso gets a bad rep because of its high sodium content – around 634mg per tablespoon, which is around a third of our recommended daily limit of 2,000mg.
But it’s not all bad news. Based on a study by Kyoritsu Women’s University, the nutrients in this umami-rich paste actually slows down the absorption of sodium in the gastrointestinal tract, so it doesn’t spike hypertension the same way ingesting sodium from regular salt does. It also has anti-cancer, antiageing and digestion-improving benefits. Still, it’s good to keep your overall sodium levels in mind and consume this fermented soya product in moderation.
Here are creative, tasty ways to use it:
WHIP UP NEW SAUCES
Punch up a ho-hum pesto or tomato sauce with a teaspoon of light to medium miso. You can also add the bean paste to salad dressings to round out the astringency from the acids. If you’re a pasta lover, try a healthier new spin on classic cream sauce. Heat up your chopped alliums in some oil, swop cream for milk, and stir in a tablespoonful of miso when the milk starts to simmer for richness. Plopping in some wasabi at the end will also liven up this tasty dish.
CREATE DELICIOUS MARINADES
Besides soya sauce, you can also loosen up some miso with a touch of water to marinade meats, seafood and veggies.
Alternatively, to preserve more of miso’s health benefits, mix up the paste with a bit of water and honey, and brush it onto your foods after grilling. A sprinkling of sesame to top off the dish will make it look and taste even more spectacular.
ENRICH YOUR STOCKS
A tiny spoonful of miso will boost any veggie, fish or meat stock. Darkerhued miso pastes are good in stews, too, but remember to only season your dish with salt afterwards, if needed, or the end result may be too briny.
SWOP OUT THE SEA SALT
Miso is complex and earthy, and can impart a malty undertone to our favourite treats. Since a pinch of coarse sea salt has about 500mg to 600mg of sodium, you could probably substitute that with one to two teaspoons of mild white miso for an unusual yet subdued twist to your recipe.