The Secret Ingredient That Will Pack Your Dinner with Flavour

With a helping of miso paste, you can transform any dish into something exquisite.

Miso paste on wood backgroundPhoto: Successo Images/Shutterstock

What Is Miso Paste?

You might know miso from a quintessential Japanese appetizer—miso soup. But there’s so much more you can do with miso paste! It’s savoury with rich umami flavour and has many an application in the kitchen. Let’s take a closer look at all the things miso has to offer.

It’s a paste made from fermented soybeans. The soybeans are mixed with salt and koji, a fungus that’s also used to make sake. The blend might also include barley, rice, rye or other grains. To get its unique flavour, the mixture ferments for anywhere from a couple months to years! The longer it ages, the miso paste gets darker and more complex in flavour.

Just a tablespoon of miso paste can add some serious flavour to tofu or a bowl of ramen Not only does miso add a savoury element to your dish, it’s also good for you. Because it’s a fermented seasoning, miso paste contains probiotics, healthy bacteria which may boost your immunity, promote a healthier gut and help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Ready to look for miso at the grocery store? Here are some of the different types you’ll come across:

  • White miso or shiromiso. This is the lightest miso and has the mildest flavour.
  • Red miso or akamiso. Red miso sees a longer aging time and has a more pronounced taste and higher salt content than its white counterpart.
  • Mixed miso or awasemiso. Red and white miso come together in this style, yielding a bold flavour

How Do You Cook with Miso Paste?

Miso paste is wonderfully easy to cook with. As an ingredient with a high umami factor, a little miso goes a long way to adding a satisfying, savoury flavour to your dishes, much in the same way as bacon or mushrooms. There are obvious choices, such as slipping a couple of tablespoons of miso into a dressing. The salty paste also makes a killer contribution to meat marinades, especially when paired with other Asian condiments like rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sesame seed oil. You can also use miso as a solo flavouring.

What exactly makes miso an essential in your pantry? Because of its savoury profile, you can get creative with flavour combinations. You can’t go wrong with miso and ginger with fish. If you have a sweet tooth, a tiny dollop of miso serves as the perfect salty foil to a decadent chocolate or caramel dessert.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro in the kitchen or want to learn a few new tricks, miso paste is an essential ingredient to stock in your kitchen cache!

Next, find out the secret ingredient that totally transforms sweet potatoes!

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home