Wild Mushroom Miso Gravy
Miso, a traditional unami Japanese seasoning that most commonly consists of fermented soybeans, when translated means “fermented beans.” During processing, soy beans tend to start out as the star ingredient and later during fermentation the addition of grains and/or seeds like barley, buckwheat, rice or hemp, is common. The amount or combination of these added ingredients is completely dependent on the processor’s end result or specific taste goal. This allows for a copious amount of miso varieties to be available. Red and white miso are the most common variety of miso available in stores today. Red miso tends to consist mostly of soybeans and is fermented for a longer period of time, whereas white miso has a higher rice content and has a short fermentation time. The darker the miso, the more appropriate it is for use with richer, heavier type foods while the white miso has a lighter sweeter taste and is best suited for use in soups.
Miso is also a very good source of manganese and a good source of vitamin K, zinc, dietary fibre, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Also, as miso is a fermented product, it naturally contains beneficial probiotics that aid with good gut health. This is particularly helpful for those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Celiac’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease or for those who have any sort of gastrointestinal issues. More specifically, most miso contains a fungus called aspergillus oryzae, which is a type of micro-organism used during fermentation. In addition to providing beneficial gut bacteria miso also increases your antioxidant status. Moreover, the longer the miso ferments for, the higher the antioxidant content and the more free radical scavenging properties it possesses. It must be noted, however, that the beneficial micro-organisms present can be killed off when miso is overheated. Thus, in order to preserve its benefits, it is best to add the miso last when cooking. This also helps to avoid the bitter taste that overcooking creates.
Soy miso contains two beneficial types of isoflavones: geinstein and daidzein. An isoflavone is a specific type of antioxidant, found mostly in legumes, that has been shown to influence sex hormone metabolism. In some studies executed, particularly in Japan where soy consumption is high, geinstein and daidzein have been shown to have a protective effect against sex hormone related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. However, contrary research also exists and thus more and larger studies need to be further run to confirm or negate this claim.
When purchasing miso paste or miso products try to obtain certified organic miso if possible to avoid consuming pesticides, GMO soy beans and other unwanted contaminants. Once you have opened your miso, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If stored properly it can last up to a year’s time.
Aside from its most commonly known use at mealtime, in soups, miso is a versatile seasoning. There are a wide variety of missed miso opportunities out there. Try it in sauces, glazes, dips, and dressings or incorporate it into your favourite vegetable mashes, lentil loaves or savoury pies. It will undoubtedly make you and your insides marvellously happy.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cups wild mushrooms, chopped
- 1/3 cup spelt flour or brown rice flour
- 3 cups water
- ¼ cup tamari
- 1 clove garlic, pureed
- 1 tbsp red miso paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat add oil. Once heated add mushrooms and sauté until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Turn heat down to medium. Next add flour and fully incorporate. Allow flour to absorb oil and toast slightly, then add water. Next whisk in tamari and garlic and allow to boil, whisking periodically. Whisk in more flour, 1 tbsp at a time, if necessary. Once gravy has come to your desired consistency whisk in lemon juice and miso. Serve with lentil loaf, your favourite seitan roast, biscuits or over mashed potatoes.