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Discover the Magic of Miso

If there’s one “secret” ingredient that can enhance your favorite recipes, miso just might be it. It’s a soybean paste fermented with rice, barley or other grains. Miso adds umami or savory notes to food, and is a staple ingredient in Japan. In Japanese cooking, miso has long been prized for its salty, complex flavor as well as its nutrition benefits. Miso includes probiotics (naturally occurring live bacteria in cultured and fermented foods) that are good for the digestive system, and is a high-protein food (approximately 2 grams of protein per 1 tablespoon). It’s also versatile, not only because of the way it enhances other ingredients, but also because it comes in a variety of colors, flavors and textures, each with its own uses in cooking.

White (shiro) miso has the sweetest flavor of the miso types and is made with soybeans and rice. Of the three types, it is fermented for the shortest length of time. Despite its name, the color is actually pale yellow. The mild flavor makes it a natural choice for salad dressings, and it adds salty and savory notes to soup.

Yellow (shinshu) miso is darker than white miso, and is fermented longer. It is made by fermenting soybeans with barley and adds a nutty flavor to foods. It’s often used in soups, and works well for light marinades. Use instead of butter when mashing potatoes to achieve a richer flavor and to reduce the need for added salt. Whisk or blend yellow miso with sesame oil and mirin (rice wine) for an Asian-inspired tofu marinade.

Red (aka) miso, is the saltiest version, and has the most depth and boldness of flavor because it has been fermented the longest time. Its flavor complements meats and other robust foods.

Miso is made by combining cooked soybeans, sea salt, grains and a starter culture. It is fermented for a few months, or up to a few years. Depending on how long the soybeans are fermented and which grains are used, the flavor and color vary. In general, the darker the miso paste, the more intense the flavor. Here are some ways you can discover the magic of miso for yourself:

Mix miso with condiments such as butter or mayonnaise to add depth and dimension to the flavor of sandwiches and snacks. Enhance the flavor of soups (prepared or homemade) by adding a little white or yellow miso. Add a small dab of red miso to meat glazes. Experiment with desserts by stirring a teaspoon or two of miso into chocolate cake batter.

The Soyfoods Council offers recipes for salads, soups, and entrees that demonstrate the flavor range and versatility of miso. Entrée ideas include Miso-Marinated Salmon with Edamame Soy Stir Fry and Sirloin Steak with Black Soybean Salsa and Miso Orange Sauce.  The orange sauce recipe combines raw sugar, rice vinegar, orange juice, white miso, mirin (rice wine), butter and achiote powder. The miso marinade for salmon features white miso, mirin, tamari (similar to soy sauce) and cayenne pepper. Other recipe suggestions include soups such as Creamy Kale Miso Soup, featuring yellow miso, tofu and low sodium vegetable broth, and Miso Chicken Soup with Snow Peas and Tofu with ginger and miso paste flavoring the stock.

Kontos Foods Launches Kontos Rustics Collection Tandoori-Style Naan

Kontos Foods, Inc., a U.S.-based manufacturer and distributor of traditional Greek and Mediterranean foods, announced the launch of Kontos Rustics Collection™, Tandoori-style naan bread in original and garlic flavors.

“Kontos Rustics Collection Tandoori Naan breads are light and fluffy, providing a great accompaniment to virtually any meal,” said Steve Kontos, Vice President of Kontos Foods. “Restaurants and home cooks can use the Rustics Collection to create new and exciting fusion cuisine offerings. They offer all the goodness and functionality of breads and wraps, with great taste and authentic Tandoori taste and texture.”

Tandoori Naan Original 300 PPI(1)The new oblong-shaped naan bread, targeted at retail outlets, restaurants and food service establishments, contains no added preservatives. The naan come two to a pack in a re-sealable bag with a zipper-style closure, in packaging that allows retailers to stack them on a shelf or hang them from a peg.

Within the coming months, Kontos Foods will be introducing two additional Rustics Collection flavors: Whole Wheat and Onion. The Rustics Collection extends Kontos’ current line of over 50 ethnic-style breads, including Massala Nan, Kulcha Nan, Roghani Nan, Missy Roti, and Pan Planos.

Naan bread, one of the world’s first flatbreads, originated around 2600 BC in Tandoor ovens in India. Naan became a staple of ancient India, evoking delicious flavor, versatility and portability – the world’s first flatbread. The word “naan” is derived from the Persian word “non” which refers to “bread.”

Kontos Rustics Collection Naan breads can be used for sandwiches, personal pizzas, toasted, or eaten right out of the package to accompany dips such as hummus, baba ghanoush, tzatziki sauce, salsas, onion, or vegetable dip. The breads are ideal paired with soups or stews, or as a base for Mexican dishes such as huevos rancheros. Served with a dipping dish of extra virgin olive oil, the Rustics Collection also works well in a breadbasket. The naan can even be used as satisfying breakfast bread, providing fiber in every serving.

“U.S. retail outlets are embracing the Kontos Rustics Collection because of their authentic flavor, texture, shape and versatility. We’re also receiving a very positive response from our retailers in Canada and the Caribbean, showing that this bread has widespread appeal,” said Warren Stoll, Marketing Director of Kontos Foods. “This naan bread is re-invigorating the Indian and South Asian bread category.”

Kontos sells its products to retailers and foodservice establishments across North America and globally. Find Kontos Foods on Facebook at and follow the company on Twitter @KontosFoods.

Miso Making Strides in Sauces


By Micah Cheek

Miso, the salty, umami-rich soybean paste, is getting attention as an ingredient in premade sauces. Yurika Masukawa, Vice President of Hikari Miso, suggests that miso sauces are gaining popularity in the American market due to America’s renewed interest in fermented foods. “The American market has had kind of a boom in fermented products,” she adds. Miso, made by inoculating ground soybeans and grains with microbial cultures, can be aged for years before use, yielding a fermented funk and umami meatiness. These flavors make miso a complex addition to sauces. Mary O’Donnell, owner of Terrapin Ridge Farms, who makes Ginger Miso and Honey Dressing, says, “The miso adds a nice richness to the flavor profile. It’s really well balanced.”

In its pure state, miso is a probiotic food, but it should be noted that while premade miso sauces carry the flavor and enzymes of the fermentation process, many are pasteurized for shelf stability and do not contain active cultures. One exception to this is So Good Food’s Miso Mayo, which still contains living cultures. Due to the active fermentation process, Miso Mayo can be left at room temperature for up to a week without spoiling.

The rising attention on miso has been apparent at Hikari Miso, where business has been increasing. Masukawa attributes this to the greater interest in the United States and Europe. This growing enthusiasm has made Ginger Miso and Honey Dressing one of Terrapin Ridge’s best sellers. O’Donnell has seen more miso sauces like hers appearing on store shelves recently as well. Smith has noticed that her Miso Mayo has better sales in stores where miso products are already sold. “If you’re someone who regularly eats natural food, or you’re a gourmand, you already know what miso is.” Smith adds that customer awareness is still an issue when selling miso products. “I’d say only right now the public is catching up with it.”

Many miso sauces come with long lists of suggested uses. ”You can dip it, toss it, drizzle it, anything you might use a spread, dip or marinade for. This is a great flavor enhancer,” says Janet Smith, founder of So Good Foods, about Miso Mayo. Meat marinades are a commonly suggested use. The salty and savory elements of miso sauces give a boost of flavor to chicken and fish, and vegetables can be tossed in it to create a light glaze. O’Donnell suggests Ginger Miso and Honey Dressing as a finishing sauce for steamed vegetables like green beans. “It also is terrific if you want to do an Asian slaw,” she adds. Miso also mixes well with spicy flavors. The blend of miso with roasted jalapenos and ginger earned So Good Foods’ Spicy Red Pepper Miso Mayo second place in the Hot Pepper Awards’ Mayo category in 2014.


Jade Monk Taking Matcha Green Tea Mainstream

Jade MonkJade Monk is redefining the ready-to-drink tea category with its first-to-market line of organic, cold-brewed matcha green teas. Now available in five regions of Whole Foods Market, Jade Monk’s new line of premium matcha tea is a delicious, authentic offering of some of the finest tea to ever hit the mainstream beverage set.

Utilizing a cold-brewing method, no heat is ever introduced during the production of Jade Monk’s USDA Organic and Non-GMO verified matcha beverages. To extend shelf life of the perishable tea, Jade Monk uses high-pressure-processing, a new method of cold pasteurization that applies high pressure (over 30 tons worth) to inactivate bacteria and other unwanted hazards without the need for high temperature pasteurization, which can be detrimental to matcha’s delicate flavor and whole food nutrients.

“Matcha green tea is unlike any other tea on Earth,” said Mike Fulkerson, Chief Commercial Officer of Jade Monk, LLC. “Because matcha is made by delicately grinding the entire tea leaf into a fine powder, all of those whole food nutrients and health benefits that regular tea bags carry away stay in the beverage and are consumed when you drink Jade Monk matcha.”

Although matcha may seem relatively new to the US, it has been consumed for well over 800 years throughout the Far East. For nearly a millennium, the Japanese have been honing and refining the art of matcha production, which has culminated in a distinct green tea that contains unrivaled flavor, nutritional properties and health benefits. Studies have shown that just one serving of matcha green tea contains the antioxidant equivalent of over 10 servings of traditional steeped green tea. Matcha drinkers also benefit from the whole food trace minerals and amino acids that the tea contains.

The Jade Monk ready-to-drink beverage line consists of four initial flavors: Unsweetened, Slightly Sweet, Mint + Honey, and Matcha Cleanse. The line can currently be found in the refrigerated beverage sets of Whole Foods Market stores in the Pacific Northwest, Southern Pacific, Florida, South and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Spaghetti Without the Gluten from Explore-Asian

By Richard Thompson

For those who have to avoid their favorite pasta meals comes Edamame Spaghetti from Explore-Asian, a new spin on pasta that’s not only good, but healthier too. Gluten free, organic, vegan, kosher, non-GMO and approved by the American Heart Association, it’s not just ridiculously delicious but it’s sure to appeal to a wide range of health-conscious shoppers.

Retailing from 3.99 to 4.79, Edamame Spaghetti is made simply from organic beans and water. One serving has 24 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, packaged and ready to eat in just a few minutes. Add a little pesto for a delectable treat, but any sauce is the perfect complement. This is pasta reinvented.

For further information visit them at

Mitsuwa Marketplace Celebrates Japanese Cooking Class Anniversary

Mitsuwa Marketplace is celebrating its one year anniversary of the Shoku-Iku cooking class on February 1. Since February 2014, Mitsuwa has successfully held 11 free Shoku-Iku classes on the first Sunday of each month, with over 200 families gathered together to make different Japanese-inspired dishes. Mitsuwa Marketplace is hoping to promote healthier lifestyles in the young generation through the cooking classes.

“Shoku-Iku” is a Japanese term, but its meaning of promoting healthier living through food is applicable across all cultures. It came to Mitsuwa’s attention that the term “Shoku-Iku” is important for most modern families to learn and practice. It’s not easy to get kids to eat healthy, well-rounded meals. However, one way to get them interested in good food is to teach them how to make it themselves through hands-on cooking.

All Shoku-Iku recipes are healthy, creative yet simple enough so that kids can make their own dishes in 10-15 minutes. Shoku-Iku cooking classes are not to train the next chefs, but to foster a lifelong notion of a healthier lifestyle and the importance of family ties.

Not only are children learning how to make different kinds of food, they are also learning about the importance of healthy eating habits while spending time together as a family. Masami, the cooking class instructor and mother of two teenage boys, said, “I also enjoy that as my kids get older, we are able to spend time together in the kitchen. Not too many moms know but cooking doesn’t have to be just a mother’s job. If she can engage her kids, it can be bonding time when the family can prepare dishes together.”

The next cooking class, February 1 (Sunday), will mark the one year anniversary of Mitsuwa Marketplace’s Shoku-Iku cooking class.

The Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company Brings Restaurant Flavor to Retail Shelves

2-Mustard Seed-CSSThe Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company has been crafting unique Asian-inspired sauces and dressings and serving them in the company’s eponymous restaurants for over 35 years. Now, consumers have access to these sauces in their local grocery stores with the recent launch of the company’s retail product line.

The Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company product line includes Asian Oil & Vinegar, a delightful Asian twist on the classic vinaigrette; Osaka Sauce, the company’s signature sauce, delicious on chicken; Teriyaki Grill Sauce, a finishing sauce for proteins; and Ginger Dressing, a signature dressing that doubles as a finishing sauce for meat or seafood. The four sauces and dressings are also available in a variety pack.

All Mustard Seed sauces and dressings are all-natural, and they contain no MSG, trans fats or preservatives. The products are made in small batches from the highest quality ingredients.

For more information, visit

Passage Foods Releases Study: Cooking Sauce Sales Simmer

Passage Foods has released its latest edition of “Passage Briefs.” This edition presents a report entitled “Cooking Sauce Sales Simmer.” Within the brief, the U.S. cooking sauce market is explored through a detailed analysis of the industry and its consumers in five sections.

- Current cooking sauce market: The cooking sauce market has seen 25 percent growth in sales in the past decade, which is expected to continue due to factors such as at-home cooking, health, and less grocery spending.

- Ethnic flavor trends: Consumers have shown an increased interest in ethnic cooking sauces and food options. This category has quickly expanded to a high percentage of market share.

- Product claim trends: Consumer are looking towards alternative options for their at-home meals alongside the health food trend that has steadily been growing in the U.S.

- Millennials and cooking sauces: The Millennial Generation is expected to impact the economy of the U.S. as they continue to enter the work force. Their interests are driving the cooking sauce market expansion.

- Future of the cooking sauce market: A look into the current cooking sauce market provides insight into the development of the industry in the years to come.

The report is now available for free by contacting or calling toll-free at 800.860.1045 ext. 204.

Click here for news about Passage Foods’ latest product introductions.

Ezaki Glico Introduces Pattyna Ice Cream Treats

PattynaEzaki Glico, maker of the Pocky brand of snack products, is kicking off the school season with the release of Pattyna brand of ice cream treats.
The new ice cream sticks come in grape, choco/coffee, vanilla, and green tea flavors. To the delight of kids of all ages the ice cream also comes in two shapes – flowers and hearts.
“The new Pattyna flavors mirror our popular Pocky flavors,” said Shunsuke Nakai, President of Glico USA.  “If you love Pocky and Péjoy you’ll love Pattyna ice cream.”
Ice cream lovers can find Pattyna in Asian grocery stores nationwide. “There’s nothing like a frozen treat when you get home from school during those first few weeks of going back to school,” said Nakai. “It’ll help keep that carefree feeling of summer alive!”
Ezaki Glico promises several more new and exciting ice cream flavors as well as other frozen snack items in the near future.
For more information about the company, visit

Specialty Food Ad Contest Winner Announced

Vanda Asapahu, founder of Ayara Thai Sauces, is the winner of the Specialty Food Association’s second annual advertising contest for specialty food professionals to tell a compelling story about their passion for specialty food.

Asapahu’s story was selected from 142 inspiring entries about family businesses, culinary breakthroughs, childhood memories, career changes, and more. The prize is a professional ad that will be part of the Association’s national advertising and marketing campaign. The ad will be featured in leading specialty food trade magazines, online, and at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. The show takes place Jan. 11-13, 2015.

More than 12,000 votes were cast in the not-for-profit trade association’s second annual “My Story, My Ad” contest. The 10 entries with the most votes went on to a final round of judging by a panel of advertising and specialty food professionals. The contest was open to members of the Specialty Food Association.

Ayara Thai Sauces was born out of requests from loyal fans of Asapahu’s family-owned restaurant, Ayara Thai Cuisine in Los Angeles, for takeout containers of its distinctive sauces. This company’s Ayara Thai Peanut Sauce was a finalist in the Specialty Food Association’s sofi™ Awards contest for the outstanding products of 2014.

“As our restaurant grew, visitors came to love not only the food we prepared, but also the sauces served with them,” says Asapahu. She adds that customers would return with “amazing stories of how they creatively used our sauces to impress their friends and share in the joy of cooking.”

The contest also included a People’s Choice Winner, based on a popular vote. The trio of women behind Simply Panache, maker of Mango Mango mango preserves, emerged as winners. They are Tanecia Willis, Lakesha Brown-Renfro, a military spouse, and Nzinga Teule-Hekima, a family physician. The company is based in Hampton, Virginia. The prize is an iPad.

For the winning entries, click here.

The contest spotlights the Association’s brand for the industry, “Specialty Food. Craft. Care. Joy.” It is designed to highlight the people behind the small businesses that fuel the $88.3 billion specialty food industry and the innovative foods and beverages they create and bring to market.

“This year’s entries showed how much passion and care our members bring to their work,” says Association President Ann Daw.

The panel of judges included Katherine Alford, Senior Vice President, Culinary Productions, Food Network; Tom Cook, Executive Creative Director, York & Chapel; Tracy Nieporent, Partner and Director of Marketing, Myriad Restaurant Group; Beth Snyder Bulik, freelance writer for Advertising Age; and Denise Purcell, editor of Specialty Food Media.

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