This post originally ran in the Tennessean, here.
One of my favorite parts about this vegetarian period is trying new foods. I like finding new veggie-centric dishes, ingredients and methods to try to mix up our month. I’ve been interested in more Asian foods lately, and miso in particular has been on my list.
According to Food Lovers’ Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst (my go-to food dictionary), miso is, “A thick fermented paste made of cooked soybeans, salt, and often rice or barley, and used especially in making soups and sauces.”
If you’re like me, you’re most familiar with miso through miso soup at sushi restaurants. Basically, it’s salty, savory and complex. Miso is also chock-full of umami compounds, the elusive fifth flavor beyond sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Mushrooms, red wine, beef and Parmesan rinds are all chock full of umami, which is defined by the Japanese as “pleasant savory taste.”
In the recipe below, I used white miso, the sweetest and most mild of all the misos. Here’s a good primer on the different kinds of miso from Bon Appetit.
Green Beans with Miso Dressing and Almonds is super easy to make. After blanching the green beans, you mix up the dressing, toss the two together and serve. In addition to miso, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, scallions and a dash of sugar, there’s Japanese mustard. We’re not talking wasabi here; it’s a spicy mustard I found in the ethnic foods aisle at Publix. It’s got a great flavor, and I look forward to using it other dressings and even stirred into soups in the future. So many new foods!
Green Beans with Miso Dressing and Almonds
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
There was more miso dressing than I needed for the green beans, so I saved the remainder for another use. The almonds came from the baking aisle - I chose a small packet of slivered ones.
2 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
1/4 cup white miso (fermented soybean paste)
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, dark-green parts only, reserving 1 tablespoon
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice
2 tablespoons Japanese prepared hot mustard (not wasabi), or 1 Tbsp. English mustard powder mixed with 1
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanche green beans (in batches, if needed) until crisp-tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of cold water to cool. Then, trim and cut in half at least, thirds if beans are long.
Prepare the dressing. Mix all remaining ingredients except almonds in a mason jar and shake to combine. Pour over green beans and toss to coat.
To serve, transfer green beans to platter (or individual plates) and garnish with almonds and reserved green onions.