Miso Crisis Narrowly Averted

Who doesn’t love miso might better be phrased: Who doesn’t love salt?  This wonderful soybean paste, which reaches a zenith in Japan, where it is sold from barrels in markets, adds deep flavor to just about everything.  Add a smidge to soup, stock, and even tomato sauce.  Smear a chicken or turkey before roasting.  Marinate a fish and then grill it.  The depth of flavor created is astonishing.

Miso in Japan can be found in lots of remarkable varieties.  Mild blond stuff, dark and speckled with barley, nearly black and dense with plenty of soy.

The problem is that miso has tons of salt.  The average tablespoon packs a minimum of 31% of what the feds call the daily allowable in terms of what is healthy.  Yow, right?  So while you’re happily smidging, smearing, and marinating, you are putting enough salt in your body to send your blood pressure through the friggin’ roof.  (And we all know what friggin’ means.)

That in mind, I have set about trying to come up with, for a start, a broth that might substitute for the miso.  Last night, thick lab glasses pushed up and over my forehead, safety helmet on, elbow length latex gloves holding the beaker and fixing the calibration, I watched with glee: MSA (Miso Substitute Achieved).

Now this is only a start, for broths, but soon I am confident that pastes will be created.

Meanwhile, here is what you do: Heat up a couple of tablespoons of canola oil under high flame.  Add a tablespoon of finely chopped ginger.  Add three chopped scallions.  Add four thinly sliced baby bok choy.  Stir.  Lower heat.  Add about a cup of water.  Add drops of sesame oil and white wine vinegar and about 1/8th a teaspoon of devil juice (soy sauce).  Stir.  Boil water.  Add noodles–udon, whatever.  Place noodles under cold water.  Put noodles in bowls.  Hit the broth with high flames.  Lower heat.  Add broth to bowls.  Top with vegetables.  Top with any protein you like: Pan seared red snapper, roasted duck, whatever.

Now we’re talking.

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