The Japanese diet is known to be one of the healthiest in the world. Generally, it consists of mostly vegetables, fish and soy. Soy is a wonderful plant-based food that provides protein and can be eaten as an alternative to meat. Miso, a soy product, is commonly used in Japanese cooking.
Miso is fermented soy paste consisting of soybean, rice/barley, sea salt and koji--a fermentation starter. Many types of miso are available in order to achieve different flavors in cooking. Saikyo miso is a popular choice because of its subtle flavors and its wide range of use.
Saikyo Miso Identification
The variety of miso is based on the ratio of soybeans to rice and the length of the fermentation period. Saikyo miso comes from the Kyoto region of Japan and is known as the sweet miso–more rice than soybean is used. In addition, the fermentation period is quite short which produces the golden yellow color and the buttery, smooth consistency. Compared with other miso, saikyo has the least amount of salt (5 percent to 10 percent) which minimizes the intense flavor to a naturally sweet, mild taste.
Recently, it has become popular on the menus of many famous restaurants–Nobu being one. Saikyo miso adds a wonderful flavor to meat, fish and vegetables that need only a slight hint of sweetness. It is incredibly versatile and is often used to marinate light seafood such as cod, sea bass and scallops. It can also be used as a delicious base for soups or simply be used as a condiment or sauce. Due to its minimal amount of salt, it is important to refrigerate the saikyo miso in order to keep it from spoiling.
On the down side, out of all the misos, saikyo tends to be a bit more expensive. However, with proper refrigeration, it can last up to a year. It also can be easily found at any Asian market or specialty shop.
Being soy-based, saikyo miso offers a wide range of health benefits like omega-3, isoflavones and cholesterol reduction. Additionally, people under certain diet restrictions can easily incorporate it into their daily diet. People with high blood pressure can enjoy the saikyo miso for its low salt content, and because it is gluten-free, it is a safe condiment for people who have celiac disease.
Shopping for miso is based on trial and error until you find the one you like. Be sure you compare the same types of miso. Organic miso can be slightly expensive. A helpful hint is to purchase the smallest package and experiment until your personal preference is established.