A spoon full of miso helps the medicine go down … okay, maybe not but it can jazz up a surprising amount of dishes — even traditional ones that usually call for simple table dwellers like salt and pepper.
Come Thanksgiving, you may be looking for some new ways to punch up your traditional fare, particularly starchy side dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are America’s favorite side dish next to stuffing, according to Study Finds. But, we all know that mashed potatoes are delicious all year round, and adding unexpected ingredients to them may inspire some truly sensational all-season spuds.
Enter miso. A fermented paste, Bon Appétit explains, miso is made by mixing soybeans with a mold called “koji,” which is derived from rice, barley, or soybeans. After a long time (weeks to months), microorganisms work to break down the beans and grains, and viola! You have a funky, salty, umami-packed paste. For those who avoid soy, other varieties are available derived from ingredients like farro, garbanzo beans, or lima beans.
Miso adds a deep flavor
Potatoes are an excellent blank slate for pretty much anything, as Food Crumbles explains the high starch content makes them smooth and creamy when mashed and particularly receptive to ingredients being mixed in. Bon Appétit suggests adding some miso to the dish for “a little extra umami and saltiness.” Travel Cook Repeat describes miso as giving mashed potatoes a “velvety texture,” which Carmy attributes to miso’s distinctive umami flavor which the outlet explains adds richness to the comforting side.
There are two categories of miso, according to Food Network, dark and light; You’ll want to use miso in the light category for mashed potatoes, either yellow or white. Naturally a vegetarian dish, because miso is a bean bi-product, Tao of Spice states you can leave out dairy in your mashed potato recipe to make it vegan without sacrificing flavor or texture. But the best way to incorporate miso into your mashed potatoes just might be by making miso butter. (We suggest making extra and slathering it on everything from biscuits to pound cake — you’ll thank us later.)