Life Giving Salt and Miso
by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt
We need a variety of minerals in our diet. Of these minerals the most valuable to us is sea salt. Many people today often overlook how important sea salt is for our health.
Salt hasn't always been thought of so lightly. Just a short time back, in human history, people were fighting wars to control salt trade. Empires were formed on it, and have collapsed because of it. Roman soldiers were paid a "salary" of salt, which was called "salarium," and they fought the Celts for the possession of via salaria, the road to the salt. And others have praised salt. To Plato, salt was "Dear to God." Homer said, "Salt is Divine." Jesus Christ noted, "Salt is good. Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another".
Both the warlike and the spiritually oriented agreed on something, that salt is extremely important to our health. Realizing this importance, people have used salt, not only in rituals, as an addition to their food, but also to form new products. For instance, using salt, the Japanese have developed tamari and miso, which are wonderfully nutritious and tasty seasonings.
Japanese legend has it that the gods themselves brought the secret of miso as a gift to people at the beginning of their civilization. Historians say that Buddhist monks brought miso with them when they carried their teachings to Japan. Whichever is correct, the Japanese have had a dedication to miso for centuries.
Until recently, almost every Japanese family had its own miso making tradition, and making farmhouse miso was as much a part of the yearly cycle as were planting and harvesting. Next to rice, it is probably the most basic staple in their diet, and the largest contributing factor to their health and longevity.
Below are three delicious fermented foods recipes made with miso. They are quick and very easy to make. Experiment with a variety of different types of miso.
CARROT TOPS IN MISO
* 2 c finely chopped carrot tops
* 1/2 c water
* 1 tsp miso
Mix the miso with 3 Tbsp water. Place the tops in a pan with the rest of the water and let it simmer, covered for 10 min. Pour the miso over and mix well. This condiment is very tasty; use 1 tsp per person.
•Variation: Use other green tops or wild plants such as dandelion leaves. Season with ginger or add roasted ground sesame seeds.
* 3 organic tangerines
* 1/2 c miso
Cut the peel of the tangerines in bite sized pieces. Place them in the miso and let it sit for 2—10 days in a cold place. Serve on fish or fried dishes.
•Variation: Use the peel of oranges, lemons, etc. in the same way.
* 1 jar filled 1/2 full with miso
* Firm whole or parted vegetables like roots, garlic, ginger and onion
Clean and dry the vegetables. Place them in the jar and cover them completely with the miso, try not to have them touch each other. After 2-4 weeks, depending on the size of the vegetables, they are done. Rinse off the miso and cut the pickles in thin slices. Serve in grain or vegetable dishes. These delicious pickles are superb year round, but especially in the autumn and winter.
•Variation: Cut the vegetables in smaller pieces, parboil them for 30 sec. and let them cool before covering them in miso. They will be done in 2 days. The vegetables will keep in miso for several months. If they become too strong soak them in a little water. Raw fish can be pickled in same way.