Miso (味噌) is a fermented paste, which is made from soybeans and sea salt combined with koji (麹, a type of mold starter). The koji in miso can be made from any grains like brown or white rice, barley or soy beans. 80% of miso sold is kome-koji(米麹, rice koji) based.
Miso is one of the key ingredients in Japanese cuisine. Personally, I like miso because miso is a versatile seasoning and also a fermented food. I make my own miso every year at home. Once it sets, the fermentation starts and can take from 3 months to 3 years! I usually wait for 8 months. The longer the fermentation process, the darker and the more intense the flavor of miso becomes.
There are mainly 9 types of Miso in Japan. To make it easy and simple, I introduce three colors and three base ingredients of Miso.
Miso by Three Colors
1. White Miso (Shiro Miso 白味噌)
Shiro Miso is light yellow, smooth paste made from soybeans and rice koji. It generally tastes mild and light in flavor and contains the most carbohydrates of all miso and therefore it tastes the sweetest.
40% – soybean
60% – rice or barley
2. Yellow/Brown Miso (Awase Miso 合わせ味噌)
It is a combination of Red Miso and White Miso. This is the traditional miso to make miso soup everyday at home.
3. Dark Brown/Red Miso (Aka Miso 赤味噌)
The longer fermentation period (around 1 to 3 years) of White Miso produces Red Miso. It gets darker color and deep aromatic flavor and salty miso. Red Miso contains the highest levels of protein of all types of miso.
70% – soybean
30% – rice or barley
Miso by Three Base Ingredients
1. Rice Miso (Kome Miso 米味噌) : Miso made from soybeans, salt, and rice koji (米麹)
2. Barley Miso (Mugi Miso 麦味噌) : Miso made from soybeans, salt, and barley koji (麦麹). It has a very dark color and quite salty but very rich taste. In addition, it has grainy and malty in taste. Fermentation period is one to three years. Barley miso is the most common in Kyushu region, southern parts of Japan.
3. Soybean Miso (Mame Miso 豆味噌): Miso made from soybeans, salt, and the koji produced from soybeans (豆麹).
Special Miso by Region:
Sendai Miso (仙台みそ) – Miso from the Sendai area. Often called red miso.
Haccho Miso (八丁みそ) – Miso from Aichi prefecture. It has a distinctive soybean flavor but surprisingly less salty. Dark brown color and its fermentation period is at least 3 years.
Shinshu Miso (信州みそ) – Miso from Nagano prefecture. Rice-based miso.
Saikyo Miso (西京みそ) – Miso from Kyoto. Rice-based miso and typically on the sweeter side.
Kinzanji Miso (金山寺みそ) – Miso from Kyoto. It contains fermented grains and vegetables. Often slightly sweet and used as a condiment for vegetables.
There is no appropriate substitute for miso. However, vegimite or marmite would be the similar.
Miso should be kept in the fridge to stop the fermentation process and preserve its freshness.
Miso doesn’t freeze so you can also store it in the freezer and use whenever you need right away.
You can keep the miso up to one year once after open the package.
– Miso soup with tofu and wakame
– Veggie Miso Soup
– Grilled Salmon with Walnut and Miso
– Miso dengaku with konnyaku
– Nasu Dengaku
– Mackerel simmered in miso
– Daikon Dengaku Miso