Miso Is The Umami Ingredient You Need To Save Broccoli Stems

Wasting food ingredients is always a tough thing to deal with, and one of the biggest sources of that from the world of vegetables is broccoli stems. You may purchase your broccoli in pre-cut florets, but if you're grabbing it from a farmer's market, or just trying to avoid food in plastic bags, you will inevitably end up with a big chunky hunk of seemingly useless broccoli stalk, destined for the trash bin. 

Most people are into broccoli for the soft-yet-crispy floret ends, but it turns out that if you prep and cook broccoli stems properly, you can transform them into something tender and delicious. It doesn't even take much work, because you can turn to the power of miso to give your broccoli stems a fantastically rich flavor in no time at all. Miso works so well because it brings savory, umami notes that balance the broccoli stems' mild, vegetal flavor. 

All types of miso are clumpy pastes in their base form, so you'll need to dilute it with another ingredient. It can be mashed into butter and melted to toss on your stems, mixed with olive oil or sesame oil, or you can make a glaze with miso, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Each application is quick and will do wonders for your broccoli stems. Simply slice the stems into small discs, then coat them with your miso mixture of choice. After that, they are ready to cook.

Fermented miso paste brings many great flavors

Miso is so good with vegetables like broccoli stems because the fermentation process used to produce it imbues it with an amazingly complex variety of flavors that elevate any dish. It's made by first mixing soybeans with a rice mold called koji, then letting the koji break down the ingredients. After the aging process, miso ends up salty, sweet, earthy, and even meaty, all in one. 

That incredible depth of flavor has made it a favorite of chefs worldwide, because it can be easily spooned into soups and sauces or brushed onto meat and fish, and it will add a whole world of flavor to finish off a dish. For something that's relatively bland, like a white fish filet — or a broccoli stem — there aren't too many ingredients that can bring that much to the table in one package so easily.

Once you've added your miso mixture, you've got a few good options for finishing your sliced stems. If you want thinner, bite-sized stems, you can just pan-fry them in a little oil over medium-high heat until they brown on each side. If you prefer thicker stems with a more tender interior, simply roast them in a 450-degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The roasting method even means they can be cooked at the same time as your broccoli florets. With a tub of miso in your fridge, you'll never waste those broccoli stems again!