A fermented soybean paste used traditionally to flavor soups but prized in the Orient for its ability to strengthen the digestive system. Traditionally aged miso is a great source of high-quality protein. Available in a wide variety of flavors and strengths, the most nutritious miso is made from barley and soybeans, and is aged for at least two years—this is the miso used most extensively in daily cooking. Other varieties of miso are used to supplement and to create different tastes in different dishes.
Miso is rich in digestive enzymes, but these enzymes are quite delicate and should not be boiled. Just lightly simmering miso activates and releases their strengthening qualities into food.