Dear Lynne,

A friend brought a gift of a big tub of miso. How long does miso keep? And how many kinds are there?

–Shawn in Silver Spring

Dear Shawn,

Seal it tight, refrigerate it and your miso (Japanese fermented bean paste) will keep a year.

To put together a full miso wardrobe, you need to pick up the three basic types—delicate sweet white, more fulsome yellow, and robust salty or sweet red. There are many varieties in each of those categories. Generally, the darker the miso, the bigger the taste. 

Miso can go into nearly everything: soups, marinades and dressings; spread some on fish and meat before grilling; it flavors sauces and seasons stews. Green beans are good dressed with red miso thinned down with sake, soy sauce and flavored with sugar, about 2 tablespoons for every 3/4 cup miso.  

I feel guilty referring to it as merely “bean paste.” Miso demands meticulous skill and patient aging up to 3 years. I am always amazed at the quality we get for so little money.

-Lynne

Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.