I think this post was long overdue, wasn’t it? For those who don’t know me, my name’s Crystelle and I’m a cook and a baker with a miso obsession. Before I continue, I should probably explain what miso is, to those who may not be familiar with it. Without getting all science-y, miso is a Japanese fermented soybean paste, often mixed with salt and koji and sometimes rice or barley. It has such a wonderful depth of rich, salty and umami flavors that just lifts almost any dish you add it to, whether sweet or savory. It’s like salt on steroids.
I love experimenting with new flavor combinations, and particularly love offsetting sweet flavors with savory notes, and vice versa. During my time on “The Great British Baking Off,” I wanted to showcase my love for different flavors, and miso became quite a running theme. I paired it with caramel, apples, pecans, tahini and coffee, and I would’ve continued with it if I had more time there! But alas, whilst “GBBO” may now be finished, my journey with miso certainly hasn’t.
I want to continue educating people about this fantastic ingredient that I firmly believe should be a cupboard essential. I want to show you that miso does not just belong in miso soup — it’s gold dust, and can be used in so many different ways, to revamp both your sweet and savory dishes. Let me show you how to do this in three easy recipes: miso glazed eggplant, miso caramel ice cream and sizzling oil peanut and miso noodles — all of which are guaranteed to satisfy almost any craving you have, and could quite easily fit the roles of starter, main and dessert.
Next time you want to make noodles, put your packet sauces away and turn to your jar of miso paste instead. Most miso pastes are vegan and it can essentially take the place of a stock cube to add a lovely rich and meaty flavor base to your stir fries. In my miso sizzling oil noodles recipe, you don’t even need a wok. The dish comes together in 10 minutes, and here, we pair miso with all the aromatics like spring onions, garlic and chile, but then turn to lime for some sharpness and sesame oil for a bit of nuttiness. And the peanut butter makes the noodles so creamy, a bit like a vegan satay sauce, if you will. This one is perfect when you want a quick lunch or dinner that still packs a punch of flavor.
A good introduction to miso is to create a sweet and salty sticky glaze, which, in my case, I use to slather over eggplants. Miso is quite salty on its own, so it’s important to balance this out with sweet and often fresh, acidic tones. In my sticky miso glazed eggplants recipe, I combine miso with maple syrup for sweetness, and red wine vinegar for a bit of sharpness to cut through those punchy flavors. The result is a wonderfully flavored, soft and almost meaty eggplant with such a flavorsome glaze, the dish may just be promoted from a side dish to a main.
Many of you must have tried salted caramel in your lifetime, but I urge you to try miso caramel — think of it as salted caramel’s cooler, more edgy cousin. The umami punch from the miso, paired with sweet caramel, creates such a wonderful harmony of flavors and stops your dessert from being too sickly sweet. The downside, however, is that it becomes dangerously moreish. My miso caramel no-churn ice cream combines a simple creamy and slightly salted vanilla ice cream with that rich, miso caramel for a beautifully balanced, quick and easy dessert that is perfect on its own, scooped onto apple pie, sandwiched in between two cookies or served with a hot brownie — the options are endless.