the world of MISO
Developed in Japan over a millennium ago, MISO is a full-bodied savory or sweetly salty fermented food which adds deep flavor notes to both traditional Japanese and Western dishes, alike, yet also has health-promoting properties and essential antioxidants to maintain good health in our modern world.
Secrets of Japanese miso
Why Japanese live long
According to the World Health Organization (2015), Japan has the longest overall life expectancy of any country in the world at an average of 83.7 years. The reason for this phenomenon? Common knowledge tells us that lifestyle (i.e. exercise) and diet are the biggest contributing factors for increased life expectancy. In Japan, walking, bicycling, and working in the garden are regarded as desirable activities for all ages, while a fermented foods– and seasonal fruit- and vegetable-based diet is held to be the ideal. Western and modern foods have eroded this traditional diet to a degree, but older Japanese still adhere to the time-honored food customs of the last half a century. Veering too far off this course could have drastic health consequences, so Japan should honor and encourage a diet rich in the traditional foods that have contributed to making Japan #1 in life expectancy.
Fermented foods are well known for encouraging good bacteria to flourish in our bodies and thus promote good health. Miso, especially in its unpasteurized state, is the perfect vehicle to introduce these magical properties into our diet and can be added in moderate amounts to almost any dish which uses salt: even Western cakes and cookies!
Miso is a crucial seasoning agent in low-salt as well as low-fat cookery as, even in small amounts, miso punches up the flavor in foods. Shojin ryori, the gentle, seasonal cuisine of the Zen Buddhist temples, relies on miso in any number of ways to infuse dishes with depth and to tease out the natural umami of different ingredients. Miso is the unifying and essential ingredient in these cuisines, along with protein-rich sesame. Without miso, shojin ryori would venture into the realm of bland, but with miso, becomes sublime.
Japanese miso has been credited with numerous extraordinary powers: the ability to ward of cancer, combat radiation sickness, and even negate smoke inhalation or exposure to pollution. Whether or not these claims are exaggerated, there is clear and irrefutable evidence that a bowl of miso soup a day will impart beneficial health properties that will lead to long-lasting lower blood pressure and overall increased intestinal well-being. One soup, one side dish (plus rice) make up the Buddhist ideal of a complete meal (ichiju issai) and it is impossible to deny the roots of this historic food enjoyed for hundreds of years in the heart of Japan.