One of the few Japanese restaurateurs to gain international fame and popularity is Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. Better known by his professional moniker Nobu, the Saitama-born chef began his culinary career in Tokyo, before leaving Japan to open restaurants in Peru, Argentina, and the U.S.
Being so far away from the birthplace of Japanese cuisine, though, meant Nobu had to come up with new recipes and flavors that would suit the palates of his non-Japanese clientele. This often meant finding roles for locally available ingredients, but in one case, Nobu took things a step further by developing one of his own: miso powder.
There are several ways to make miso, and the exact ingredients and process used can cause differences in flavor, consistency, and even color.
One constant you can generally count on, though, is that miso is a paste. Even the most internationally well-known dish that uses the soybean seasoning, miso soup, is made by thinning the mixture with water.
Nobu chanced upon a different way to use Miso though, thanks to a simple bit of forgetfulness in managing his own household condiments. After using some miso to prepare a dish at his home in Los Angeles, Nobu stuck the partially-used tub back in his refrigerator, but neglected to replace the lid.
▼ An ordinary miso container
By the time he realized what he’d done, the top layer of the miso had dried out and hardened. Curious, he scraped off some of the powder, tasted it, and discovered it was surprisingly delicious.
Figuring if he enjoyed it, his customers might too, Nobu began adding the dried miso powder to dishes at the Nobu restaurants he co-owns along with actor Robert De Niro.
Of course, with over a dozen branches, the famed chef’s personal fridge isn’t big enough to make enough dry miso to meet demand. Instead, the professional-grade powder is produced in Nagano Prefecture by Hikari Miso. The company says the seasoning, which is made of flakes of organic red and white miso, is perfect for fish, chicken, meat, and even salads.
Get your hand on a bottle, and you’ll be all ready to season like a pro. As for cooking like one, though, you’re on your own.
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