chapter  19
18 Pages

Miso as a Functional Food

Miso can be defined in broad terms as a fermented soybean product. It has a pleasant unique fresh sweet fragrance and has been described as having a predominantly salty, “nutty,” or “meaty” flavor. Japan is by far the largest producer and consumer where in the 1990s the annual production was approximately 560,000 tons,

but has decreased to 48,000 tons in 2002. It is the key ingredient in miso soup, which is a staple part of Japanese cuisine, and has many other culinary uses particularly in marinades and in sauces and as a flavor enhancer. The production and consumption of miso is steeped in tradition; no history of Japan is complete without mentioning miso. The history of its development into the product as it is known today has been well reported by many scholars

including Dr. Hideo Ebine,

who was a former director of the Central Miso Research Institute at the Japanese Federation of Miso Manufacturers Cooperatives in Tokyo. Another excellent history is included in The Book of Miso by Shurtleff and Aoyagi

who explore the development through the ages beginning with the first mention of soy sauce and chiang in China going back to the Chou dynasty of 722 to 481

.