Posted September 15th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

Same as soy sauce, miso paste is one of the ingredients we can’t miss in Japanese cuisine. These days miso paste with dashi (=a kind of stock, mostly made with dried bonito flakes and kombu seaweed) is available at Asian grocery shops.  (called “dashi iri miso“)  Because this dashi iri miso already contains dashi, you don’t need to use dashi powder separately in cooking.  I think this item is very useful for miso soup and some other dishes.  What you do is just dissolve the dashi iri miso into hot water, then cooking miso soup is done!

The basic miso paste, however, doesn’t contain any dashi or favor.  
There are 3 kinds of miso paste we use in Japan.
<Rice Miso>
Made with rice malt (kome kouji), this miso paste is the most basic one in Japan.  There 3 kinds of rice miso with different colors.
White Miso: As this contains large % of rice malt, its taste is sweeter than others.  Due to its short aging term, this miso paste has short shelf-life.
 (Example of white miso: Saikyo Miso)
Light Colored Miso: This miso has a little sour taste and flavor.  30% of miso paste Japanese people use is this miso.  
(Example of light colored miso: Shinshu Miso)
Red Miso: Miso paste with dark red color.  It has a thick sweet taste. 
(Example of red miso: Sendai Miso, Gozen Miso)
* The color of miso varies because of its aging period, not because of the ratio of salt contained in the miso.
Red    .. long-term aging.
White .. short-term aging.
<Soy Bean Miso>
Miso paste made with soy beans and salt.  It has deep rich taste with a little bitterness, and this is an essential item for Kaiseki Ryori.
(Example of soy bean miso: Haccho Miso)
* Kaiseki Ryori = Basically designated to be served at a full tea ceremony. Can be eaten at restaurants where formal, high-class Japanese cuisine is served. Made under strict rules : such as the food must highlight the season, and must appeal to the eye ,as well as to the plate.
<Wheat Miso>
Made with wheat instead of rice malt.  It has plain taste with sweetness.
(Example of wheat miso: Inaka Miso)
I like white miso (rice miso) and my house in Japan always use this for miso soup and other dishes.   Some people like red miso, and some like white.. it really depends on which miso they use in their area. 
I’ve posted few recipes using miso.  You can basically use any type of miso, it’s really up to you 🙂
I will post more recipes with miso paste in the future.  Miso paste is not just for miso soup! 🙂

Soy Sauce

Posted August 21st, 2009 in Food | No Comments »



There are numbers of ingredients which are essential in Japanese cuisine.  The most important one is soy sauce, I believe.  Some people think that all Japanese food is seasoned with soy sauce (which is not true :p ) Some Japanese people do carry a small bottle of soy sauce when travel around the world.   Now, what is soy sauce anyway?  Soy sauce is called “Shouyu” in Japanese, and there are variety of flavors.  Standard soy sauce is a fermented sauce made from soy beans, roasted wheat, salt and water.  From what I have read the roasted wheat gives the aroma to the soy sauce.

Here are 8 popular types used in Japan (and in other world too).


This is the “standard” of Japanese soy sauce.  It is made from equal amounts of soy beans and wheat.


This is a light Japanese soy sauce. It is used regularly in cooking. Even though its name means “light seasoned”and “Thin Taste”, Usukuchi soy sauce actually contains more salt than the standard Koikuchi sauce.  This soy sauce has lighter color than normal soy sauces, so it doens’t overwhelm the color of food.  Therefore people chose to use this soy sauce when they want to retain the color of ingredients in the dish.  (eg: Osuimono (clear soup)


This sauce is made mainly from soy beans. There is only a small amount of wheat added. The flavor is richer than Koikuchi Shoyu.


Meaning “white shouyu”, this soy sauce has a similar looking to starch syrup.  Shiro-jouyu contains high % of sugar than other soy sauces.  This soy sauce is also used to retain the color of ingredient in the dish. (eg: udon soup, clear soup, steam board)


This is a soy sauce mainly served with sashimi.  As this is a kind of Tamari soy sauce, it has dark looking color and rich flavor.  Other than sashimi, this soy sauce is also used to produce dark red color for teriyaki dish and simmered fish dish.


This salt reduced soy sauce contains 50% less salt than normal soy sauces.


This salt reduced soy sauce contains 80% less salt than normal soy sauces.