Miso Mac n Cheese

On the lookout for ways to recreate a classic dish or kick up the flavor of an old time favorite, veggie style? Try bean paste or miso, a mainstay ingredient in Japanese kitchens.

Miso is a thick paste made from a base of barley, rice, or most commonly soybean. The process for making miso is similar to the making of cheese. A fermented starter, koji, is added to cooked soybeans, along with a concentration of salt. The color, flavor and texture of the final product are determined by the ratio of the three main ingredients. The soybeans ferment for 6 months to 3 years in wooden kegs before packaging.

how to use miso and miso mac n cheese after the jump

Shiromiso or white miso is the lightest in color and mildest in flavor. Miso ranges in color from white to yellow to red and dark brown. In Japan there are family, town and regional preferences and differences for miso.With a high protein and vitamin content, consider it a healthy food. But beware, like all fermented foods miso contains a high salt content.

We've all had a bowl of miso soup at the start of sushi-laden meal. Try the paste as an addition to soups, marinades, dips, salad dressings, entrees and as a condiment. We tasted a Miso Mac N Cheese at the JETRO booth this past January at The Fancy Food Show. We loved the extra flavor the Sendai Miso added, plus who can argue against additional nutrients and vitamins in in mac and cheese?

Sendai Miso Mac N Cheese-serves 4
adapted from Chef David Shalleck/Volochef for JETRO
1 and ¼ cup whole -wheat elbow macaroni
1 Tablespoon canola oil-divided in 2
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons AP flour
2 and ½ cups milk
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Sendai Miso
1 and ½ cups shredded cheese (Cheddar, Monterey jack, or Mozzarella)
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon fresh parsley leaves, minced
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons scallions, minced

Preheat oven to 400 F
Lightly butter a 6-cup casserole dish
1. In a large stockpot bring salted water to a boil.
2. Cook elbow macaroni for half the time recommended on the package directions.
3. Drain macaroni. Toss with 1 and ½ teaspoons of canola oil, spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Sprinkle the AP flour over the butter and whisk to make a blonde roux. (cook, while whisking, until the flour smell dissipates (2 minutes) and the color deepens)

5. Continue to whisk the roux and gradually stir in the milk.
6. Once the roux and the milk are thoroughly combined, combine ½ of the miso with the mixture. Continue to stir and add the remaining miso.
7. Gradually add the cheese and stir as it completely melts.
8. In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, peas and minced parsley.
9. Combine the panko, scallions and 1 and ½ teaspoon canola oil.
10. Spread the macaroni and cheese mixture into casserole. Sprinkle panko mixture on top. Lightly press panko into macaroni.
11. Bake until top is lightly golden brown and macaroni is bubbly, about 20 minutes.

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