What do you know about miso? Up until recently, I knew very little, but that has changed with a recent trip to the international market, a great fillet of wild caught salmon and a desire to make a healthy, omega-3 packed dinner.
Today I’m sharing two things with you:
- Why miso should be a staple ingredient in your kitchen, and
- Why it is so important to swap out meat for fish twice each week.
October is National Seafood Month, which means food lovers and health conscious folk across the US are urging you to swap out meat for fish two times a week. Why is seafood so important? Recently I attended a seminar with the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and I learned quite a bit:
- Only 20% of Americans actually follow the USDA recommendations on eating seafood twice a week. And Hoosiers do even worse. Which is a shame, because Indiana is swimming with fish farms!
- The health benefits of a diet rich in seafood are scientifically proven. Eating just eight ounces per week reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36%. That’s monumental.
- Adults who have blood levels high in the fatty acids found in fish live 2.2 years longer on average. We could all use that.
Indianapolis was chosen as one of the cities for the Seafood Nutrition Partnership pilot program because we have a large population who doesn’t meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and who have a connection to heart disease. I love being a Midwesterner, but that’s one statistic I don’t enjoy participating in.
Alton Brown lost 50 pounds by eating salmon 3 times a week. In case you don’t believe ME.
Indianapolis folks – would you like to learn more about this program? Join the Seafood Nutrition Partnership this Friday, October 10 at Indianapolis City Market for a kickoff news conference and seafood sampling at 10:00 AM. You’ll hear from:
- Linda Cornish, Seafood Nutrition Partnership Executive Director
- Detlef Schrempf, Indiana Pacers All-Star, Seafood Nutrition Partnership
- Winnie Ballard, First Lady of Indianapolis
- Dr. Tom Brenna, Cornell University, Omega-3 Scientist
- Wendy King, Executive Director, Vice President of Development at American Heart Association, Indianapolis
Everyone is welcome to attend this free event – they’d love to see you there! If you can’t make it out during the day, head over the Pacers game that evening to receive a mini-basketball signed by Detlef Schrempf when you provide a can of seafood that will be donated to Gleaners Food Bank of Indianapolis. Detlef will have a table in the main course at halftime to speak with you about the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and the importance of eating seafood twice a week. AND you can get your Omega-3s tested… for FREE! How cool is that?
Originally I walked into the Saraga International Market on 38th Street just south of Lafayette Avenue to pick up miso paste. Rahul and I brought $20 in cash and stormed through with no basket in hopes of getting the item and leaving.
Of course, that didn’t actually happen. Let’s just say I decided to take a detour through everything “umami.” 30 minutes later, my arms could not hold any more food (and Rahul refused to let me grab a basket) so we left with a dozen packs of various ramen soups, dried sweet chili anchovies, miso paste, dried noodles and Indian spiced snack mix. I call that a success.
If you are lucky, miso can be found in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store. Kroger didn’t have it, and our specialty Fresh Market didn’t have it, but I knew Saraga would. There are many different varieties to choose from.
But wait. WHAT IS MISO?
Okay, that sounds weird. Let’s try again.
Miso tastes salty, has a creamy texture, and is packed with umami, that sixth sense of taste that you hear all of the time on the TV.
But yes, it’s also fermented soy bean paste. If you are familiar with kombucha, you already understand miso. Bacteria + soy beans + salt + time = miso. This video gives a great visual explanation in case you’re already too freaked out to try it. The music they chose fits perfectly.
According to my favorite scientist Harold McGee, miso is fermented tofu, aka fermented bean curd, which is the Chinese equivalent to mold-ripened milk cheeses. YEAH.
Miso is often used as a soup base, a seasoning, in the marinade and for pickled veggies. It can be made by cooking rice, barley or soybeans and fermenting them with koji (bacteria) for several days. It may be fermented for months or even years, for those serious miso makers. The rich, complex flavor is a little sweet, savory, salty and even a bit fruity.
I’ve rambled enough already and will tackle umami in a later post, but I suggest catching up on Mark Bittman’s New York Times article that explains how miso is similar to parmesan cheese. You’ll like it, I promise.
For this recipe, I grabbed a dollop of yellow miso. There are three types of miso:
- White Miso – the sweetest of the bunch, fermented for the shortest time
- Yellow Miso – a mild flavor but fermented a little longer
- Red Miso – the strongest, most assertive flavor, fermented the longest
Salmon already carries a lot of flavors, so I chose a mild miso (and one that I would see myself using more often since I did purchase a good amount of it). Mixed with soy sauce for liquid, rice vinegar for acidity, brown sugar for sweetness and Sriracha for heat, I created a simple glaze that would give color and depth of flavor to the baked salmon.
Let me repeat that.
Dinner. In 10 minutes.
There’s so much more I want to tell you here, but I’m at 880 words and it’s getting late, so let’s save the love for a future post. In the mean time, let’s recap everything for you here:
- Eat more fish. It’s good for your heart.
- Don’t be afraid of miso. Try it, your umami taste buds will thank you.
BAKED MISO SALMON
- 2 tablespoons yellow miso
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1 pound wild caught salmon filet
- Chopped fresh green onions
- Sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a small bowl, whisk the miso, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, mirin, and Sriracha together.
- Place the salmon skin side down on the foil-lined baking sheet. Baste it with the sauce.
- Bake the salmon for 5 minutes. Baste it one more time with the sauce, then place it back in the oven for 4-5 more minutes or until it is flaky and tender. It may take less time depending on how thick your salmon is. Don’t overcook it!
- Top with fresh green onions and sesame seeds and serve with ramen noodles, stir fry vegetables or a crunchy Asian slaw.