Creamy-Miso-DipMiso may not sound appealing—a thick fermented paste typically made from salt, soybeans, and a mold culture—but once it captures your attention, it will set up permanent residence in your refrigerator and quickly become your condiment of choice.

Though evidence suggests it originated in China thousands of years ago, miso is a cooking staple in Japan where, as in the United States, it’s widely believed to be a nutrition powerhouse. While it is rich in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, it’s not clear yet whether miso has earned its legendary status as a health food. Science has yet to  confirm all the health benefits claimed for the rich paste through the centuries, but that’s no reason not to make it a staple in your kitchen. It may or may not be a superfood, but one thing is indisputable: Miso is a culinary powerhouse.

If you’ve only enjoyed miso in a bowl, you’re missing out on a world of flavor it imparts when added to dressings, marinades, sauces, and glazes. Find it in red, white, or mixed varieties at Asian markets or in the refrigerator section of health food stores and many supermarkets and then get started with these recipes by Candice Kumai.

Miso-Glazed TurbotMiso-Glazed-Turbot

Serves 4

2 tablespoons red miso paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 1/2 pounds turbot fillets, skin removed*

In a small bowl, whisk together first five ingredients to create the glaze.
Using a pastry brush, gently spread a thin layer of marinade over the fish. Transfer to a baking dish and cover with remaining marinade. Cover dish with aluminum foil and let the fish marinate for 30 to 60 minutes in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake fish until firm and flaky, about 25 minutes.

*Other fish such as halibut, flounder, or cod can also be used.Miso-Ginger-Dressing

TD&N Nutrient Analysis: Calories: 481; Total Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 220 mg; Sodium: 1,102 mg; Carbohydrates: 6 g; Fiber: 0 g; Protein: 75 g

NOTE: This recipe is not ideal for people on low-sodium diets.

Roasted Miso Honey Glazed Root Vegetables

2 tablespoons red or white miso paste
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oilMiso-Soup
1 1/2 pounds root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, waxy potatoes, turnips, or rutabagas

In a mixing bowl, combine the first four ingredients to create a marinade and whisk well to incorporate.
Peel and slice the root vegetables into 1/2-inch pieces. (If using beets, wear gloves while preparing them and add them last.) Toss the root veggies in the marinade until coated. Allow them to sit for approximately 20 minutes.
Place the root veggies on a large, foil-lined tray and cook for approximately 45 minutes. Serve with a miso-glazed fish or tofu.

TD&N Nutrient Analysis (based on 4 servings): Calories: 220; Total Fat: 8 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 418 mg; Carbohydrates: 37 g; Fiber: 6 g; Protein: 3 g