May 31, 2011

lemon dill miso butter {+ a tasty lunch plate}

Miso paste and butter are two ingredients I'm pretty sure I never would have thought to combine, if not for auspiciously coming across David Chang's recipe for asparagus with miso butter in the ny times a while back. The chef/owner of the Momofuku empire, Chang is an umami master and creator of many an improbably fabulous flavor combination. Intrigued, I mentally bookmarked the idea to recreate at home -- unsurprisingly, once I got around to making it myself, this stuff really stopped me in my tracks.

The miso's salt, tang, and slightly funky fermentedness provide intrigue and cut through the richness of the butter; the butter, in turn, creates a wonderfully creamy texture and tames the assertiveness of the miso. A match made in heaven. I can -- and will! -- put this on anything. 

I've made up a few batches now, sometimes simply butter and miso, and when I'm feeling fancier, adding in fresh herbs, spices, and citrus zests. Over the weekend I mixed up a batch seasoned with lemon zest and fresh dill as a finishing touch for sole en papillote with asparagus. Oh, boy, did that work.

You can vary the flavor elements to customize the miso butter as you like -- orange zest and lemon with a pinch of red chile or cayenne is great for sauteed asparagus, minced fresh cilantro, parsley, or thyme for mashed potatoes. You garlic lovers out there could add some minced fresh garlic to make a particularly pungent butter. Play around, you really can't go wrong. 

With summer just ahead, the miso butter pairing possibilities are endless: smear it on corn on the cob, stir a spoonful into a bowl of steamed green beans or sauteed summer squash, finish warm, grilled peaches with a citrus and rosemary-spiked concoction. And, my current favorite cook's treat, a generous layer of softened miso butter spread onto a rye crisp.

Yesterday's lunch plate was a random and tasty assortment of fresh vegetables and pantry items: cubes of greenmarket tomato and (not greenmarket) avocado, discs of purple carrot, a big handful of cilantro leaves, marinated artichoke hearts, thinly sliced green garlic, and homemade pickled ramps and asparagus, all drizzled with a quick dressing of tahini thinned with lemon juice and water and seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, and red chile flakes. Joined by a couple of ryvita crisps slathered with leftover lemon dill miso butter, it was a satisfying no-cook lunch, perfect for a hot day.

miso butter with lemon and dill

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (I used Kerry Gold)
2 to 3 Tbsp mild miso paste (such as sweet white miso or mellow chickpea miso) (to taste)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp minced fresh dill

Mix together the butter and miso until well combined (I like to use more butter than miso, but you might prefer a 1:1 ratio as in David Chang's recipe). Stir in the lemon zest and dill.

Let sit (room temp or refrigerated) for about 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.


  1. This is such a clever idea! I'll have to try it, my partner loves miso (as do I), so this would go down really well at our place ;-)

  2. thanks, Maria :)

    thanks, Nanncy - hope you like it!

  3. this is a great idea!
    A better butter ; )

  4. This looks like a great base recipe - I love all your flavour combinations! :)

  5. lady grey - i like that name, a better butter!

    thanks, Janet!