Ottolenghi's pantry is full of trick ingredients that he uses to inject quick flavour into his recipes with minimal effort. Umami-rich miso paste is one of them. Miso paste is made from fermented soy beans and is a staple in Japanese cuisine. As a fermented ingredient it has layers of flavour that can help create complex depth in your dishes, giving an umami boost and "an unmistakable, yet very delicious, funk", says Ottolenghi.
Miso paste is readily available in most supermarkets these days and it lasts for ages in the fridge. There are several different types, from red to white to black miso, which can differ depending on how long they're fermented or the grains they're fermented with. Sweet, mellow white miso is Ottolenghi's preferred variety, which he uses to add complexity to vegetable dishes, to add sweet umami to grilled quail or chicken and to salad dressings. Miso Tasty is the preferred brand in the Ottolenghi test kitchen, and their white miso paste is included in the Ottolenghi FLAVOUR hamper. Here are some of our favourite Ottolenghi miso recipes.
Miso Butter Onions from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage
With just three ingredients – onions, butter and white miso paste – this traybake side dish is the definition of low effort in exchange for big flavour. Serve caramelised onions doused in a rich and buttery miso sauce alongside roast chicken or spooned on top of toast, rice or mash. Find this recipe on p.258 of your copy of Ottolenghi FLAVOUR.
"We went through a miso stage where the sweet, umami-rich white or brown paste found its way into every dish possible. Miso ice cream, miso dressings, miso soup", say Yotam and Ramael of their NOPI restaurant menu. This dinner party-worthy dish is one of them, in which miso is cooked in the oven until almost caramel-like and slathered onto quail before grilling. You can also use de-boned chicken thighs here. Served with a pomegranate and pickled walnut salsa, this has real 'wow' factor.
Swede Gnocchi with Miso Butter from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage
These luxuriously light gnocchi are served up in a miso, lime, ginger and butter sauce for an Asian-inspired twist on a traditionally Italian classic. Tossed through with the Asian leafy green, Morning Glory, with hollow stalks that are the perfect vehicle for this sauce.
Pork belly is roasted here with lemongrass, ginger and thyme and paired with miso-spiked butternut squash and an apple and walnut salsa. Sweet, nutty squash and umami miso are a great pairing and work wonderfully alongside any roast bird, or with wine-brasied shallots.
Miso Vegetables and Rice with Black Sesame Dressing from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
"This is my go-to dish for winter evening comfort food", says Ottolenghi of this Japanese-inspired veggie dish, in which mushrooms, broccolini, carrots and mangetout are cooked in a miso and dashi broth, and topped with a black sesame and peanut dressing.
Smoky freekeh and umami-rich miso are an unlikely but perfect pairing in this punchy vegetarian salad. Freekeh, shallots, mushrooms and beans are dressed here with a caramelised miso and orange dressing.