Miso is a Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans with malt and salt. It is produced across Japan. A whole range of varieties and colours are made, depending on the type and amount of malt, the proportion of salt, the temperature of fermentation, and the length of maturation. Miso can be classified according to the type of malt used, such as malted rice, barley or soybeans. It can also be classified by colour: red, white, and brown. The last is actually bright yellow in colour and the most widely available. Shinshu miso is one of the best-known brown miso pastes. The name derives from its origin that it was first produced in the Shinshu region of present-day Nagano prefecture. It is produced with malted rice, and renowned for its golden hue and salty flavour. Saikyo miso is a type of white miso originating from Kyoto with a shiny creamy colour and delicately sweet flavour. White miso is generally matured for only about 20 days, in contrast to other varieties, which are allowed to mature for several months, resulting in a deeper colour.
Miso can be used in almost limitless number of ways apart from miso soup. It can be used in simmering fish, in hotpots, and mixed with vinegar to season seafood and vegetables. Cucumber is also great seasoned with a little miso. Try it and see!