Star Ingredient

Star Ingredient: Miso & Gochujang

Our Star Ingredient for this week will actually be appearing as Twin Stars so to speak!  We’re featuring Gochujang and White Miso from Keepwell Vinegar’s White Rose Miso collection.  Maybe you’re familiar with miso but these particular miso products will simply blow you away!

What Exactly Is Miso?

Miso is a traditional East Asian seasoning that originated in mainland China and then flowered into other places, like Japan.  It’s made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji and sometimes rice, barley, seaweed and/or other ingredients.  The result is a thick paste used for sauces, spreads, pickling vegetables, fish or meats and of course the base of miso soup.  Typically, miso is salty but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process so descriptions can vary from salty, sweet, earthy, fruity and savory.

Miso is rich in essential minerals, proteins, dietary fiber, enzymes and a good source of various B vitamins, vitamins E & K and folic acid. As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria that help us to stay healthy, vibrant and happy; good gut health is known to be linked to our overall mental and physical wellness. 

Why Keepwell Vinegar’s Miso?

Here at LLP we LOVE Keepwell Vinegar’s vinegars (that’s soooo fun to say fast, over and over) and their White Rose Miso product line is amazing!  Now I’ve already told you about how you can make miso with many different ingredients and how these ingredients will change the flavor of it.  Keepwell Vinegar has taken traditional miso-making ways and adapted them for the not-so-typical miso-making grains that are available here in PA & MD!  The end product is highly sustainable, has a lot of the flavor profiles of miso but still keeping much of the character of the grain in the finished ferment. 

Currently in our Marketplace we have 2 products from Keepwell Vinegar’s White Rose Miso line…Gochujang and White Miso…our Twin Stars this week.

First There’s Gochujang!

Gochujang is a savory sweet and spicy fermented condiment, popular in Korean cooking.  It’s quite the process…many steps, many months with each step relying on the seasonal harvest of the time of year in which it takes place.  Here in the USA it’s hard to find a gochujang that’s not mostly corn syrup mixed with hot pepper flakes.  Keepwell Vinegars uses fermented organic soybeans and malted barley from farms in PA and rice from MD.  The malted barley breaks down the rice to unlock its natural sugar to give their gochujang its sweetness.

Gochujang is the base of many traditional sauces like ssamjang and bibimbap sauce…which I have no idea what they’re for.  What I do know is that you can get creative with it as the spicy element in your BBQ sauce or zesty mayo.  One of Chef Diana’s recipes this week is for Gochujang Glazed Tofu!

Next Up…White Miso!

The most common flavor categories of miso are white miso, red miso and mixed miso but there are sooo many different varieties.  White miso is the classic.  It’s generally a little younger, a little sweeter and a little lower on salt than more intense miso, while sill packing an umami punch.  Keepwell Vinegars uses Carolina Gold Rice from Marsh Hen Mill in MD and organic soybeans from New Covenant Farm in PA to make their white miso.

White miso is versatile and easy-to-use.  Make a quick broth for a traditional miso soup, use it as a base for sushi bar-style miso vinaigrette or get creative and use it anywhere you’d season with salt. Chef Diana has us pairing it with sweet potatoes in her Miso Glazed Sweet Potato recipe for this week.

Time To Go On A Culinary Adventure

So get adventurous this week and try one of the Twin Stars!  I always say that trying out new ingredients is like taking a culinary adventure.  You can go all around the world without having to pack or book flights…just cook and enjoy.  Oh, and let Lancaster Local Provisions be your “tour” guide!

Until next week, my friends, and the debut of another Star Ingredient of the Week!

-Johnny Kat