WHAT IS MISO?
Miso originates from Japan and is a salty and flavorful thick paste that is high in umami and made from fermented soybeans, rice or barley fermented with salt and koji (mold made with rice, used as a fermentation starter)
HOW IS IT USED?
There are many types of miso and they all range in color and flavor depending on what type of grains it uses. The 3 most common types of miso that can be found most easily are the white (shiro) miso, yellow (shinshu) miso and red (aka) miso.
The general rule with miso is the lighter the miso the tamer the flavor. So if you are not 100% sure if you will like miso, start with the light ones first and work your way up.
The lighter misos are great for sauces, dips, marinades, soups – basically anything that is a bit lighter, since it won’t overpower your dish. As you go into the darker misos it will be more salty and more flavorful, so these are great for heavier dishes like braises and marinades. I personally love the strong flavor and do use it in soups and sauces as well, but this will be a completely personal preference. 🙂
RECIPES THAT USE MISO
- Buttery Scallion Pancakes
- Honey Miso Garlic Roasted Potatoes
- Miso Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks
- Homemade Furikake
- Miso Corn Egg Drop Soup
- Creamy Roasted Mushroom Garlic Soup
- Miso Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku) with Black Garlic
- Creamy Miso Bacon Pumpkin Soup
- Spicy Black Garlic Miso Israeli Couscous
- Umami Beef & Pork Burgers
- Roasted Miso Cauliflower Mushroom Soup
- Pan Fried Lamb Chops with Miso Butter
Whenever I need to substitute miso, I like to use soy sauce. It gives the same amount of saltiness as well as the umaminess. Although keep in mind, the texture is completely different, so there is no true 100% substitution for it.
In cases where miso is the main flavor in a recipe, like in soups/butters/sauces, I would not use soy sauce as a substitute because they do have different flavors and for those types of recipes you want to retain the miso flavor.
WHERE DO I FIND IT?
Miso is getting more and more popular and can usually be found at local grocery stores now in the International aisles. If you cannot find it at your local grocery store, you can almost always find it at an Asian grocery store or online.
Buying Miso Online:
Miso is very salty, the darker the miso the saltier and more flavorful it will be. It’s also mildly nutty with lots of umami flavor. Some of the lighter misos have a slightly sweet and fruity flavor, not sugary sweet and too fruity but hints of it mixed into the strong salty flavor.
Miso has a thick paste consistency and has a similar consistency to cream cheese but less creamy.
Once opened, miso should be stored in the fridge. Make sure it is well sealed so it doesn’t dry out. Most miso packaging will have an expiry date on it, the darker the miso the longer it will last – partially because darker misos have a higher salt content.
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