Buddhist monks coveted it. Samurai warriors thrived on it. It is Miso. A traditional ingredient in Japanese cuisine for more than a thousand years, this fermented soybean wonder started making waves (mostly in small soup bowls) in America around the 1960s. The last decade, though, has witnessed a major Miso awakening.
Incorporated into everything from barbecue sauce to butterscotch, the thick, umami-rich paste conducts flavor and texture with deliberate grace. Along the way, it contributes significant protein (the complete kind) and other beneficial enzymes naturally found in fermented foods. It’s more than a seasoning. It’s a way of eating. If we’re going to make that kind of claim, then we better back it up. Enter Trader Joe’s Yellow Miso.
Identifying a Miso to call our own took extensive tasting (because of nuance in aging and fermentation, there are thousands upon thousands of varieties). We tried red Miso with deep, salty flavor—it was so rich it was limiting. We tried low sodium Miso that was sweet and... sweet—it lacked depth. We tried... Mild Yellow Miso with balanced, mouth-filling umami—it was just right.
Made according to traditional methods using organic soybeans, rice, koji starter (Aspergillus oryzae), sea salt and water, Mild Yellow Miso is fermented for approximately 8-10 weeks. The process allows the proteins, carbohydrates and oil to break down into more readily digestible nutrients, while the rich, salty flavor blossoms in complexity. It’s vegan, kosher certified, and gluten-free—the trifecta of enviable attributes (especially since comparable products commonly contain wheat).
The uses of Mild Yellow Miso are copious. Add it to sauces and dips as both seasoning and thickener. It makes a great glaze for meat, fish or vegetables. Mix it into the cooking water for grains or pasta. Toss it with bread crumbs to help them adhere flavorfully. Rub it on raw meats. Whisk it into dressings... At $1.69 for each seven-ounce tub, Mild Yellow Miso easily becomes a go-to seasoning, and quickly turns into a way of eating.