The South in My Mouth and miso? Hey, ya’ll, we may have reputations as being a little slow to move about, especially in the summer, but we are aware of the outside world. And, of course, I am a huge fan of Iron Chef and you can barely watch Masaharu Morimoto for five seconds before he mentions miso. By the way, Morimoto speaks fine English even though he uses a translator on the show. I have seen him on other shows happily chatting away in English.
But I digress. So the food magazine, Bon Appetit, featured miso as an ingredient in its January issue. And it featured a recipe for roasted pork tenderloin with apricot-miso glaze. I checked off the ingredients and I had everything but the miso, which is a fermented salty paste that tastes reminiscent of soy sauce but meatier, if you can get that into your head. Now, I got a little snippy about being aware of the outside world. Let me apologize slightly. We are aware but we don’t always import things from the outside world. Miso seems to be one of those things.
However, I knew I was going on a trip to Washington, D.C., and that my friend Mary Ann would hook me up. Not only did I return with the mysterious miso paste in my suitcase, but also fennel seed, almond flour, barley, roasted hazelnuts and zaatar. I predicted that the TSA would search my bag and, indeed, they did. I will admit that zaatar looks a little bit like marijuana.
You can get miso in various colors, with the lightest being the mildest and the most colorful, a burnt orange, being the strongest. Of course, I went for the strongest. It comes in 35 kg bags. I don’t know what the heck a kg is, but it’s a whole lot of miso. Fortunately, it keeps in the icebox for a year.
Well, let me tell you something. I made the pork tenderloin with the apricot-miso sauce. Mark took one bite and said, “What is that?” That means, what’s in this food that tastes really good that I can’t identify. You’ve heard about this thing called umami? The fifth flavor that boosts the flavors of other foods? Miso has umami just soaking out of its pores.
I am now a miso addict. I added some to a stir fry last night and I could tell the difference. Well, I think I could. I’d had a few glasses of Chardonnay. I cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.
So, I’ve given you a link to this Bon Appetit recipe. If you can find some miso, buy it. If not, come on over to the house. I have 34.5 kgs of it left.