A friend of mine was coming over for dinner recently. I’d spent a couple of hours working on a stew and had just put it into the oven when I realized that my guest would be arriving soon, but I had prepared nothing for us to snack on while we waited for said stew to finish up. I had some carrot and cucumber, but nothing to dip it in. So…I got inventive with some red miso I had, and it was the start of something beautiful. A miso dip.
Over the last year, through experimentation here and there, I’ve gotten a little bit more familiar with basic Japanese flavors and a few recipes, with my personal favorites being Japanese curry udon and tamagoyaki. I’ve also started messing around with miso.
From what I understand, miso is to Japanese cooking as chicken soup is to Western cooking; if you can make a good miso soup, you’re set in terms of being able to have a happy and well-fed family. I think it’s quite an endearing idea, but I have yet to try cooking miso soup myself (I suppose one of these days I need to do it).
At any rate, when I opened my refrigerator looking for something to make into a dip, it was a package of red miso that caught my eye. Given what I had learned about Japanese ingredients over the year, I decided to try a little experiment with some things I had in my fridge. I whipped together something a little off the wall and gave it a taste. It was weird, but not bad, so I used it. My friend (a fellow food enthusiast) approved!
I then took it upon myself to do a bit of experimentation to fine-tune it a bit, and I’m really, really excited about the result. My favorite things to make are the sorts of things that can’t quite be classified as coming from just one country’s cuisine, and this miso dip is one such creation. Sure, I grabbed just a few things from my fridge and stuck them all together, but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, and can honestly say I’ve never had anything quite like it.
Surprisingly, miso and dijon mustard (I used grain mustard) go nicely together. I stuck that with mirin, a sweetish cooking alcohol that I typically only use for tamagoyaki. I finish it off with a dash of sherry vinegar, and it’s done! When I was testing this miso dip (and variations on it), I actually made sure to write, “dude, that’s like…good” in my notes. I originally intended this as a dip for vegetables, but since writing the recipe I’ve been dying to use it as a spread for a sandwich. This might be a new thing to keep in stock in the fridge.
RECIPE: Dijon Miso Dip/Spread
(makes enough veggie dip for 1-2 people; enough spread for 1 sandwich)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp red miso
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Enjoy!