Probably Anita’s most Asian tasting hot sauce is “The Ghost.” This is in no small part due to the salty tang of miso. It is a traditional Japanese seasoning that is produced by fermenting soybeans with salt, a fungus called koji and sometimes rice, barley or seaweed. While miso is usually associated with the Japanese soup that is served in sushi restaurants, it is also a common ingredient in sauces and marinades for meat and fish. Introduced during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan(1895-1945) it has become a staple of Taiwanese cuisine with several companies producing it on the Island.
The origins of miso are contested. The Japanese claim that the first first version dates back to the Jamon period in 14000 BC, while the first written record can be dated back to 700 AD. This coincides with the claim that Chinese monks introduced it as a fermented soy paste to Japan. Between 800-1200 AD it became popular in Japan with royalty and monks. It then became more common with soldiers eating it in soup during wartime.
The most popular miso in Taiwan and the one used in Anitas “The Ghost”
is made from rice. It has a soft and smooth consistency. The color changes depending on the length of time it is fermented. A short fermentation( white) has about 6% salt while a longer fermentation(red) can go up to 12% salt. It is high in protein and vitamin E. Many have claimed that a great hangover cure is miso soup. Miso has also been hailed for its anti-aging properties as well as a cure for stomach ailments.
The addition of even a spoonful of miso delivers a savory bite to many dishes that satisfies a taste sensation known in Japan as umami. Although it has been a favorite for centuries in Japan it is now getting more popular worldwide as a superfood. Using it in Anita’s hot sauces
was an easy decision since it’s produced locally and has great flavor. The future is bright for this ancient ingredient.