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Miso – April 2002

MISO (fermented soybean paste)

Miso is a thick paste that can be used in soups, casseroles, sauces, and spreads or as an alternative to soy sauce or vegemite. It is made from fermented soybeans, sea salt and a cereal grain, usually barley or rice. The soybeans are soaked, thoroughly steamed, and mixed with rice or barley that has been inoculated with a harmless mould, aspergillus oryzae. The mould enzyme hydrolyses the proteins, lipids and other components and produces a soy sauce flavour.
The miso is then kept in a large wooden vat from 3 weeks to 2 years and a rich paste is produced which is high in protein, enzymes and B vitamins including small quantities of vitamin B12 that is naturally produced during fermentation.

Health Benefits
Because miso is a live food it aids digestion and metabolism and it is an alkalinising food.
According to Japanese tradition it improves resistance to illness, promotes long life and good health; treats and prevents radiation sickness (miso and seaweed are said to help rid the body of radiation and heavy metals); and neutralises some of the effects of tobacco smoking and air pollution. It is a great afternoon drink for those who suffer from late afternoon or post work low energy or irritability.

Types of Miso
Miso comes in a variety of colours, strengths and flavours depending on the amount of time it is kept, the salt content and the grains used. Numerous classification systems have arisen because of the countless varieties of miso, which causes some confusion amongst consumers, but essentially the same process makes all. Some common terms are: Mugi  -barley, hatcho - soybean, aka - red, shiro - white rice, and genmai  - brown rice.

For cooking purposes, miso can be divided according to salt content, which is low (sweet), medium or high. Usually, the darker the colour of miso, the higher the salt content.
Sweet (low salt) miso works well in dressings, and as a sauce flavouring whilst miso with a medium salt content (red miso) works well in general purpose cooking. Miso high in salt adds gusto to soups and other dishes and is good in colder weather. There are no rules for using miso so experiment with your taste buds. In general sweet miso should be refrigerated but saltier miso may be stored in a cool dark place.
Miso keeps for up to 1 year, but since saltiness increases with age, sweet miso should be used fairly soon after opening.

We Stock: ...
At Piko we have several brands of miso.
There is Westbrae, which is pasteurised and made in Japan. These are popular, smooth and flavourful.
Brown Rice Miso 400g $8.42
Red Miso (made with white rice) 400g $7.54
Barley Miso 400g $7.70
We have Mitoku Macrobiotic, which are organic and made in Japan. In this range there is:
Organic Brown Rice Miso, 300g $8.54, savoury and rich
Organic Hatcho Miso, unpasteurised, 300g $7.88 – this miso is aged under pressure and with less water therefore it is less salty than other long aged and dark miso, hearty and robust
Organic White Miso, 250g $8.81, creamy, sweet and light
Mansan Organic Soybean Miso, unpasteurised, 400g $8.17, dark, robust and flavourful
We also stock Amano Miso, which is organic and produced in Canada following Japanese methods. There are four varieties; they all come in 400g pottles at $8.76 each. There is
Shiro, young, pale and sweet; Aka (red) which is also from white rice but is aged over three seasons so is richer and darker; and Genmai and Mugi both richer and darker as well.
Pasteurised miso can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature almost indefinitely.
Unpasteurised miso should be kept in the fridge as it is still 'working'. (If it does produce mould just mix it back in with the rest of the miso).


Spread or dip

Wonderful, versatile, beautiful! Use on toast, for pasta sauce, in pesto, as salad dressing, stir-fry vege sauce, for fried noodles or rice etc etc
One part miso, one part tahini, one part water


Substitute white wine or saki for the one part water of the above recipe and add a small amount of honey and minced onion


4tbsp miso
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp soup stock or water
2 tbsp sherry or sake
1 tbsp tahini

Combine in a small fry pan and stir over a medium heat until the mixture thickens, cool and serve over baked eggplants, potatoes, roasted veges or on tofu or dipping for raw veges.


Fry one onion and a few cloves of garlic in olive oil.
Add some herbs and spices (basil, oregano, chilli, sage, pepper – whatever you like).
Add ½ cup water.
Simmer for a few minutes, take off the heat and add a tablespoon of miso (more or less) and stir until mixed in.

Miso Soup with Tofu and Wakame

10-15g dried wakame seaweed
About 250g regular tofu
3½ cups water
4 tsp medium miso
1 heaped tbsp finely chopped spring onion tops

Soak wakame until it softens (about 10 min) do not oversoak.
Drain and trim away any tough sections then cut into 2 ½ cm lengths.
Cut tofu into 1½ cm cubes Heat water, when lukewarm extract about ½ cup water and blend in miso making sure there are no lumps, slowly blend this mixture back into the water.
Continue to heat but do not boil
When miso is dissolved add tofu and wakame
Remove from heat before soup boils Garnish with spring onions

About Miso Soup

Put in anything that you want including vegetables, fish or meat. Make sure all the ingredients are well cooked before you put the miso in. Remember to dissolve part of the miso with part of the soup liquid before you add it to the soup and do not boil the soup once the miso is in it, as high temperatures can kill the essential enzymes that are so good for the digestion.
Try eggplant and onion, kumara and bean, potato and leek, mushroom and tofu. Adding tahini at the last minute adds more flavour and cheese on the top, especially feta, is yummy!!

Lemon-Walnut Sauté

5 soaked shitake mushrooms thinly sliced
1 tbsp lemon rind grated
¼ cup walnuts chopped
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp miso
3 tbsp water
1 tsp sweetener (optional)

Sauté mushrooms, lemon rind and walnuts over a low heat. Dissolve the miso in water, add the miso and sweetener to the sauté and cook till the ingredients are coated, cool before serving.

In Store: ...
We now stock Hemp Seed Oil. This is the only oil that naturally contains Omega 6 and Omaga 3 in a 3:1 ratio. It also contains GLA. Hemp Seed is grown without pesticides or other agrichemicals and the seed is high in protein. $18.66/250ml

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