Three Ways to Finish a Tub of Miso

It’s an ingredient that could last forever. But it shouldn’t have to.

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By Tanya Sichynsky

This week, I frantically sent some friends the following message: “If you found MONTHS old expired cream cheese in your fridge, but it tasted and smelled normal, would you eat it? y/n.” (Spoiler: I ate it.)

My cooking can, at times, be shortsighted. I’ll get jazzed to make a recipe with few plans for any of the leftover ingredients, leaving me with half-full containers that I inevitably forget about.

But there’s one item in my fridge that can stand the test of time: my tub of shiro, or white, miso.

Miso paste is fermented, and its high salt content protects it from mold. Depending on whom you ask, miso paste will last in the fridge for anywhere between six to 18 months. I’ve used some far older than that, and I’m still here to write this newsletter.

But if you would like to avoid sending a panicked text asking if your miso is safe, here are a few ways to use it up.

Soups: Recipes for soup often call for adding the miso near the end of cooking, off heat. To preserve the probiotic qualities of miso, you must avoid boiling it; instead, whisk in the miso just before serving, while the soup is still warm.

Eric Kim’s delicious recipe for miso soup is easy to make vegan. You could use a simple kombu dashi for the base, of course, or tweak Eric’s recipe a bit.

After bringing the pot of seasoned water and kombu to a simmer, I tossed in 5 grams (roughly 1/4 cup) of dried mushrooms to add extra savoriness to the stock, as in a shojin dashi. And instead of using katsuobushi (bonito flakes), I added 1 loosely packed cup of shredded nori (the nori will start to disintegrate, so move quickly when straining). This nicely mimicked the sea-like scent that katsuobushi imparts.

This carrot-leek soup from David Tanis is another great example of that technique.

Baked goods: For those without a huge sweet tooth, miso nicely offsets the sweetness of cookies and cakes without adding an overt saltiness. Its contributions are subtle, but if you were to omit the paste from, say, Bryan Washington’s pecan banana bread, Krysten Chambrot’s peanut butter cookies or Dorie Greenspan’s maple loaf cake, you would be sure to miss it.

Dressings: A tablespoon or two of miso can go a long way in adding complexity to all kinds of gravies and glazes. Use it to add oomph to J. Kenji López-Alt’s good-on-anything miso-sesame vinaigrette, or whisk it with an overripe avocado, as Yewande Komolafe does for a creamy dressing that can double as a dip. (To make it vegan, simply swap out the honey for a dash of maple syrup, or omit it entirely.)

Miso Soup

Go to the recipe.

Miso Pecan Banana Bread

Go to the recipe.

Miso-Sesame Vinaigrette That’s Good on Anything

Go to the recipe.

One More Thing!

Just thinking about Gerald Stratford, a big-veg gardener, and his 88-pound cabbage.

I leave you with a mea culpa: Last week, I wrote here about the resolution of a reader, Vickie, except I spelled it Vicky. My sincere apologies for the error. See you next week!

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