Sauces are small but powerful additions to cooking. In this recipe, three distinct and arresting flavors — miso, mustard, and roasted sesame — are blended into a striking sauce to give a new dimension for savory dishes, vegetables, and meats.
I am calling this creation by the portmanteau “mijon.” This is a rather strong sauce, but next to certain foods it adds an arresting layer of umami. I found it particularly perfect with roasted potatoes. At the heart of this is the combination of two unexpected bedfellows: miso and Dijon.
Part of the strength of the sauce comes from the specific sources of the ingredients. The miso, vinegar, and sesame oil are sourced from The Japanese Pantry in San Francisco. Further detail about each ingredient is given below. To help you discover these well-crafted items and use them in your cooking, a 20% off coupon can be applied using the code 20EA1 on their website.
Red Miso Paste
Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans. The soybeans are fermented with a number of ingredients and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to develop into the profile of flavor desired. The miso paste used in this recipe is red — or aka — miso and is known for its strong flavor. It carries sweet and savory notes that develop from the long fermentation process. The paste is fermented by Horikawaya Nomura, a 300-year old maker located in Japan. They produce world-renowned miso and soy sauce. This particular paste is fermented for three years.
Dijon is the region in France that made mustard during the Medieval period. This tradition has continued for centuries. Records indicate Dijon mustard being used as early as the 1300s. Since Dijon mustard does not carry a protected status like other French foods, the variety and geographical source can vary widely. This recipe uses a whole-grain Dijon mustard that has a low acidity and lower vinegar content. A good option is Maille. Dijon mustards with more vinegar in them I found to not balance as well with the recipe.
Purple Sweet Potato Vinegar
Iio Jozo produces this earthy and balanced rice vinegar with added sweet potato. It starts with a sake base, which Iio Jozo creates from scratch. In fact, the entire production process from growing the rice through fermentation and pressing is done all in-house. You could substitute regular red wine vinegar, too, because the beauty of this vinegar can get lost between the strength of the Dijon and miso in the recipe.
Golden Roasted Sesame Oil
Wadaman in Osaka, Japan, has been a sesame producer for nearly 150 years. The fourth-generation owner has been roasting sesame for decades. The golden roasted sesame oil selected for this recipe is powerful but smooth and softens the aggressive flavors of the Dijon and miso.
- In a small bowl, whisk the red miso paste, Dijon mustard, and sweet potato vinegar until smooth and combined.
- Add the sesame oil and whisk until well blended.
- Taste and adjust the proportions as needed.
The sauce can be served immediately or stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
This makes less than a quarter-cup of sauce, which is good for a side condiment for one person. I have not tried doubling the recipe, but the proportions will change. The miso is powerful and should not be doubled right away without tasting.
If you add too much oil, the sauce will break and separate. Add more of any of the other ingredients — starting with the vinegar — in small doses to remix.
Miso is very salty and this is a salty sauce that should be paired with foods that can absorb a lot of flavor like starchy or watery vegetables, mushrooms, and meats.
Dijon mustard, sesame oil, vinegar, and red miso can very considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer. Feel free to liberally adjust the amounts required in the recipe to balance to the ingredients you have available.
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Photography by Erol Ahmed • Written
by Erol Ahmed • Published
May 18, 2020