A friend recently gave me some nuts that had been marinated with miso and then roasted. Miso and snack nuts? Yes, it works! And it goes to show that miso is so much more than just a flavouring for Asian soups.

In Japanese cooking, miso is a basic ingredient. The paste is one of the basic flavours used in Japanese food. To make miso, cooked and mashed soya beans are mixed with koji, a type of fungus, to ferment them. This process produces a full-bodied flavour known as umami.

German food blogger and author Claudia Zaltenbach has dedicated a whole book to miso, and in my opinion it’s excellent. Her book, Miso – Recipes Culture People (published by Hädecke), includes both recipes and a wealth of background information. As part of her research, she travelled to Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where she met producers, and she also spoke to European experts. For example, one recipe was contributed by V-ZUG ambassador Tanja Grandits: salmon tataki with miso glaze and carrot tapioca.

Claudia Zaltenbach’s recipes aren’t limited to Asian cooking. The recipe for miso nuts comes from her book, and she also uses miso to make a hollandaise (for asparagus) and flavour a raspberry cheesecake. And of course, she also explains how to make your own. But if you don’t have time for that, you can buy good quality miso from Shinwazen in Zurich (www.shinwazen.ch). The owners of this small delicatessen ferment their own miso.

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