I never get bored with dressed green salads. After years of having it regularly, both as a side-dish and a starter, I am always excited at the discovery of a new dressing, especially when warm spring days arrive and salad leaves are bought with higher frequency. This miso vinaigrette is simple, but original in its creamy consistency and quite complex taste it owes to miso. I have written below a short recipe, but to put it simply, it’s a traditional mustard vinaigrette with miso used instead of mustard. Accidentally this salad was a perfect company for the recently posted Chicken with Soy Sauce, Garlic and Molasses.
Miso has been frequently appearing on my table (see below) for several years now, but I have never thought of putting it into a vinaigrette. I have found this excellent and obvious idea in Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, an American married to a Japanese farmer and living in rural area for several decades. The book contains both classic recipes and Nancy Singleton’s own inventions based on local ingredients. It is also full of stories about family, neighbours, local producers and, in general, describes life in the Japanese countryside. The book is a particularly compelling read, a beautiful object, a good source of recipes and I strongly advise it to all the Japanese cuisine fans, even novices because the majority of the recipes are easy and clearly explained.
For those who haven’t tasted miso (味噌), it’s a thick paste made by fermenting soybeans and/or barley or rice and one of the most important ingredients of the Japanese cuisine (Korean and Chinese cuisines use very similar pastes too). Miso is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals and some people claim it even helps to fight the radiation sickness. In Japan miso has three main colour types: white (shiromiso), red (akamiso), black (kuromiso), and there is also mixed miso (awasemiso). The only downside of miso is that is can be very high in sodium, so look for special “low sodium” misos (some high quality misos don’t even have this mention, but are less salty). Whatever the salt content, white miso has always a milder taste, so it’s a good idea to start one’s adventure with light-coloured miso. Apart from the three basic colours, there are myriads of different misos, depending on the brand or producer, the ingredients, the region…
If you have bought a tub of miso and wonder what to do with it, you might like:
And if you look for other salad dressing ideas, you might be interested in my recent delicious and very unusual discovery:
Apparently I am not the only one who eats more salads at the arrival of spring. This week Nami (Just One Cookbook) has posted a gorgeous seaweed salad and a miso (!) dressing, while Gourmantine (Gourmantine’s Blog) has presented no more no less but eight salad dressings. Visit their blogs for more inspiration!
TIPS: The below amounts should only be treated as approximate and adjusted to your taste, the miso kind or brand. (I have slightly modified the original amounts too). I have added some agave syrup to mellow the flavours (not present in the original recipe), but it’s not necessary.
I don’t like my salads drown in sauce, so double the below amounts if you prefer a very moist, rich salad.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Ingredients (serves two – three):
1/3 lettuce head, washed and torn into smaller pieces
(cucumber, tomatoes or any other raw vegetables cut into pieces)
3 heaped teaspoons miso of your choice (I wouldn’t advise the very dark, strong miso)
2 teaspoons oil
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
(1 teaspoon syrup or honey in case you need to adjust the taste; I have used agave syrup)
In a glass combine well the vinaigrette ingredients.
Place the salad leaves and other vegetables in a bowl and pour the miso vinaigrette over them just before serving.