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Miso

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Miso is Japanese fermented soybean paste.  It looks like peanut butter and smells bad.  But don't let this put you off.  It adds an intense and savoury depth and complexity to many dishes.  

It is high in 'umami' - the fifth (and best) basic taste, after sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and sourness.  Other umami-rich foods are Parmesan, soy sauce, fish sauce, mushrooms, tomatoes and some meats.  They are all high in tasty glutamates (as in monosodium glutamate, which occurs naturally in seaweed and was isolated and developed as a food additive back in 1907).

It's good for you too, as it's very tasty, yet low in calories, and also full of protein, beneficial bacteria and B vitamins.

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Nov 10, 2006: Black cod with miso
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