For many of us, summertime can only mean one thing: natsubate, a seasonal disorder that causes laziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and sleepiness. If you’ve got a serious case of natsubate, read on to discover why miso, a traditional Japanese ingredient, might be all that you need to overcome summer lethargy.
The Natsubate Miso Soup Connection
In my case, when natsubate hits, it hits hard. By the time evening rolls around, all I can do is muster up the last bits of my energy and prepare dinner. Once I’m done cooking, I’m hardly in the mood for food!
However, on one particularly humid evening, I made a pot of miso soup, and as usual, scooped out a bit to taste. Imagine my surprise when I actually felt hungry! I downed two bowls of soup, a serving of multigrain rice, and chicken.
Thinking that I had discovered some magic secret, I excitedly ran off to Yahoo! Chiebukuro (The Japanese version of Quora meets Yahoo Answers) to praise the wonders of miso soup as a cure for natsubate.
Alas, the natsubate miso soup connection had already been discovered. In fact, there was plenty of scientific data to back up WHY a hearty bowl of miso soup is all that you need to beat the heat and humidity.
Here’s what I uncovered in my research:
The Natsubate Miso Soup Connection Explained
Miso is a savory, nutrient-rich paste that can be used as a dressing, sauce, soup stock, or to pickle vegetables. Traditionally, miso is made from soybeans, salt, and a koji starter, though some varieties may use other types of beans or peas or even rice.
As one of Japan’s oldest ingredients, the first recorded usage of miso dates to the 8th century. In those days, miso paste was regarded as a luxury. However, its presence soon shaped what we now regard as a “traditional “Japanese meal called ichi-juu-san-zai.” (一汁三菜: A complete meal consisting of one soup and three side dishes: meal/fish, vegetables, and pickles).
Excess sweating in the summer results in the loss of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals, all of which are present in miso. This is why miso soup, the standard soup offered in a traditional Japanese meal, is a fantastic source of nutrients which work to fight against symptoms of natsubate.
During summer, our body diverts energy from other processes like digestion in order to keep our internal temperature down. As a result, the digestive system becomes slower. Miso improves our body’s ability to digest and absorb foods, and its probiotics promote gut health and digestion.
How To Make The Perfect Bowl of Miso Soup
Here’s how to make the perfect bowl of miso soup in three simple steps:
Tofu (cut into cubes) 150g
Japanese leek, sliced and added to taste
It all begins with dashi, or soup stock. Make dashi from scratch by bringing kombu, bonito flakes, or niboshi, to 400mL of water in a saucepan, Bring a boil, then strain.
Alternatively, you can simply add instant dashi, such as Ajinomoto Hondashi, to 400mL of water.
Next, add tofu and bring to a boil.
If you’re looking to add depth and variety to your bowl of miso soup, you can’t go wrong with sliced ginger, which reduces nausea and warms the body.
Mushrooms are also a fantastic addition as they are rich in potassium, B vitamins, and Beta-glucans, all which help to alleviate symptoms of natsubate.
Nex, add wakame, then turn off the burner and add 35g miso paste. Bring to a simmer,* then garnish with sliced Japanese leeks before serving.
*Be careful not to let the miso soup come to a boil as this results in a loss of umami flavor.
Unopened miso paste can be kept at room temperature; however, store opened miso paste in a closed container and kept refrigerated.
Store unshed dashi stock in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or up to 1 month in the freezer. Use an ice cube tray for storage.
To recap, here’s how a hot bowl of miso soup can help alleviate natsubate:
- Is part of a balanced Japanese diet
- Replaces sodium and other electrolytes lost through sweating
- Aids in digestion
What are you favorite miso soup ingredients? Let us know!