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Japanese Kanji Grade 3
# 273
Meaning flavor
Onyomi ミ,  ビ
Kunyomi あじ,  あじわう
Example 味噌,  みそ,  miso
Writing practice
 
Stroke Order Rules
 
1. Write from left to right, and from top to bottom
2. Horizontal before vertical
3. Cutting strokes last
4. Diagonals right-to-left before diagonals left-to-right
5. Center verticals before outside "wings"
6. Outside before inside
7. Left vertical before enclosing
8. Bottom enclosing strokes last
9. Dots and minor strokes last
 
SODs and SODAs under license from KanjiCafe.com
 

Japanese food
噌,  みそ,  miso
Miso (味噌, Miso) - A traditional Japanese food produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the mold kōjikin (麹菌, kōjikin) (the most typical miso is made with soy). The typical result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called Misoshiru (味噌汁, Misoshiru), a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Miso is still very widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining world-wide interest. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savoury, and there is an extremely wide variety of miso available.
 
During the Edo period miso was also called hishio and kuki.

Until the Muromachi era, miso was made without grinding the soybeans, somewhat like natto. In the Kamakura era, a common meal was made up of a bowl of rice, some dried fish, a serving of miso, and a fresh vegetable. In the Muromachi era, Buddhist monks realized that soybeans could be ground into a paste, spawning new cooking methods where miso was used to flavor other foods.

By flavor

The taste, aroma, texture, and appearance of any specific miso vary by miso type as well as the region and season for which the miso was made. The ingredients used, temperature and duration of fermentation, salt content, variety of kōji, and fermenting vessel all contribute. The most common flavor categories of soy miso are:

Shiromiso, "white miso"
Akamiso, "red miso"
Kuromiso, "black miso"
Hatchomiso

White and red (shiromiso and akamiso) are the basic types of miso available in all of Japan as well as overseas. Different varieties are preferred in particular regions. For example, in the eastern Kantō region that includes Tokyo, the lighter shiromiso is popular, while in the western Kansai region encompassing Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, darker brownish hatchomiso is preferred, and akamiso is favoured in the Tohoku area[citation needed].

By ingredient

The raw materials used to produce miso may include any mix of soybeans, barley, rice, buckwheat, millet, rye, wheat, hemp seed, and cycad, among others. Lately, producers in other countries have also begun selling miso made from chick peas, corn, adzuki beans, amaranth, and quinoa. Fermentation time ranges from as little as five days to several years. The wide variety of Japanese miso is difficult to classify, but is commonly done by grain type, color, taste, and background.

mugi (麦): barley
tsubu (粒): whole wheat/barley
aka (赤): red, medium flavor, most commonly used
hatchō (八丁): aged (or smoked), strongest flavor
shiro (白): rice, sweet white, fresh
shinshu: rice, brown color
genmai (玄米): brown rice
awase (合わせ): layered, typically in supermarket
moromi (醪): chunky, healthy (kōji is unblended)
nanban (南蛮): chunky, sweet, for dipping sauce
inaka (田舎): farmstyle
taima (大麻): hemp seed
sobamugi (蕎麦): buckwheat
hadakamugi (裸麦): rye
meri (蘇鉄): made from cycad pulp, Buddhist temple diet
gokoku (五穀): "5 grain": soy, wheat, barley, proso millet, and foxtail millet

Many regions have their own specific variation on the miso standard. For example, the soybeans used in Sendai miso are much more coarsely mashed than in normal soy miso.

Miso made with rice (including shinshu and shiro miso) is called kome miso.

Storage and preparation

Miso typically comes as a paste in a sealed container, and should be refrigerated after opening. It can be eaten raw, and cooking changes its flavor and nutritional value; when used in miso soup, most cooks do not allow the miso to come to a full boil. Some people, especially those outside of Japan, go so far as to only add miso to preparations after they have cooled, to preserve the biological activity of the kōjikin. Since miso and soy foods play a large role in the Japanese diet, there are a variety of cooked miso dishes as well.

Miso is a part of many Japanese style meals. It most commonly appears as the main ingredient of miso soup, which is eaten daily by much of the Japanese population. The pairing of plain rice and miso soup is considered a fundamental unit of Japanese cuisine. This pairing is the basis of a traditional Japanese breakfast.

Miso is used in many other types of soup and souplike dishes, including some kinds of ramen, udon, nabe, and imoni. Generally, such dishes have the title miso prepended to their name (for example, miso-udon), and have a heavier, earthier flavor and aroma compared to other Japanese soups that are not miso-based.

Many traditional confections use a sweet, thick miso glaze, such as mochidango. Miso glazed treats are strongly associated with Japanese festivals, although they are available year-round at supermarkets. The consistency of miso glaze ranges from thick and taffy-like to thin and drippy.

Soya miso is used to make a type of pickle called "misozuke". These pickles are typically made from cucumber, daikon, hakusai, or eggplant, and are sweeter and less salty than the standard Japanese salt pickle. Barley miso, or nukamiso (糠味噌, nukamiso ), is used to make another type of pickle: nukamiso is a fermented product, and considered a type of miso in Japanese culture and linguistics, but does not contain soya, and so is functionally quite different. Like soya miso, nukamiso is fermented using kōji mold.

Other foods with miso as an ingredient include:

dengaku (charcoal-grilled miso covered tofu)
yakimochi (charcoal-grilled miso covered mochi)
miso braised vegetables or mushrooms
marinades: fish or chicken can be marinated in miso and sake overnight to be grilled.
corn on the cob in Japan is usually coated with shiro miso, wrapped in foil and grilled.
sauces: sauces like misoyaki (a variant on teriyaki) are common.

Information source: “Miso.” wikipedia.org. Article date: 4 Feb. 2008. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 4 Feb. 2008 <Miso>.

Video - The following is another cooking with dog video showing the wa to make Pork Miso Soup, Tonjiru, 豚汁, とんじる.
 

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