味噌(みそ)【Miso】

Miso is one of the soybean foods that is indispensable for Japanese who eat rice. It is made from boiled and mashed soybeans mixed with salt and koji. Koji is a substance such as wheat, barley, rice, or soybean malt that helps the soybeans to ferment. The mixture is left until it ripens. This can take from several months to three years, but the mixture generally to ripens in six months to a year.

味噌は、米を主食とする日本人の食生活に欠かすことのできない大豆食品の一つです。大豆を蒸してつぶし、それに小麦、大麦、米、または大豆で作った麹(こうじ)と塩を加えて混ぜ、発酵させて作ります。熟成にかかる期間は数ヶ月から三年とされていますが、半年から一年が一般的です。

Miso originated in China approximately 2500 years ago. It was introduced to Japan by Buddhist priests in the seventh century. In the hundreds of years that followed the original miso introduced from China was transformed into the unique miso used today in Japan. The use of miso became widespread among the general public during the Muromachi period (1338 to 1581).

味噌は約2500年前に中国で初めて作られ、7世紀に仏教僧によって日本に伝えられました。その後数百年かかって、元来の中国のものから現在の日本独自のものに変化しました。一般庶民の間に広まったのは、室町時代になってからです。

Miso contains abundant protein and can be used as a seasoning for a variety of dishes. Miso soup is one of the most representative of the dishes that are cooked with miso. Miso contains easily digestible amino acids including the essential amino acids that rice lacks. For this reason miso soup is indispensable for compensating for the protein poverty of Japanese people who live on rice. Miso is also used for boiling strong-scented fish since it absorbs odors. Moreover, fish and meat can be preserved in miso as it contains much salt and therefore keeps food them from going bad. In addition miso can be blended with other seasonings and spices and is often used as a dressing for vegetables and sea foods.

味噌は高蛋白の調味料で、色々な料理に使われています。味噌を使った料理で忘れてはならないのが味噌汁です。味噌には消化吸収しやすいアミノ酸、特に米に不足している必須アミノ酸が含まれているため、味噌汁は米飯中心の日本人の食事に不足しがちな蛋白質を補うために欠かすことができません。また、味噌には匂いを吸収する働きがあるため、匂いの強い魚を煮るのに使います。さらに、塩分を多く含むため、魚や肉を味噌漬けにして保存する利用法もあります。この他にも、味噌は他の調味料や香辛料と一緒に野菜や魚介類の和え物にもよく利用されています。

In the old days each family had its own homemade miso that had an original taste. Even today numerous kinds of miso are still produced. Some is regional miso and other miso is made by manufacturers through their own processes. Miso, however, is roughly divided into two types. One is akamiso that is a brownish color and has a dry taste and the other is shiromiso that is a whitish color and tastes sweeter.

かつては各家庭で味噌を手作りしていたため、味噌の風味は家庭によって異なっていました。現在でも、各地方やメーカーが独自の味噌を作っており、味噌の種類は数多くあります。おおまかには、赤味噌と白味噌の二種類に分けられ、赤味噌は辛口で白味噌の方が甘口です。

In Japanese, homemade miso is called ‘temae-miso’. This is often used as an idiom meaning that a person praises their own creation or deed. This idiom is generally used in a derogatory sense when one speaks of oneself

自家製の味噌を「手前味噌」といい、自分で作ったものを誉めることを意味する慣用句として用います。

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