Miso is made by fermenting a selection of soy beans, rice, barley and wheat together to create a thick, textured paste.

Although all miso contains some, or all, of these core ingredients, differences in combinations, proportions and quality of ingredients ensure that no two miso pastes are exactly the same.

Although the most common way to enjoy miso is by mixing it with dashi soup stock to make miso soup, it is also used used for sauces and marinades, as well as a method for pickling vegetables and meats. Miso varies in colour from a pale brown similar to peanut butter, to a deep brownish-red. The darker the colour, the longer the fermentation process and the stronger the taste will be. Most miso can be separated into three categories: white miso, red miso, and a mixture of both called awase miso.

white miso

White miso is made from soy beans and a high percentage of rice which are fermented to create a light, slightly sweet taste. The smooth flavour of white miso makes it a popular choice in Japan, perfect for soups, dressings and marinades for fish.

red miso

Red miso is made from soy beans, barley and other grains with a long fermentation process to create a mature taste, rich in umami flavours. The intense, salty flavour of red miso makes it a great choice for hearty soups and marinades for meat and poultry.

Awase Miso

Awase miso is generally a mix of both white and red miso which makes it a versatile ingredient, suitable for all types of Japanese cooking.

Other Types of Miso

There are many other types of miso from different regions in Japan. Two of the popular alternative varieties are barley miso and miso with added dashi.

Barley Miso

Barley miso is made from soy beans and a high percentage of barley which are fermented to create a thick, wholesome taste. Popular in the southern areas of Japan, the rich flavour of barley miso is ideal for traditional soups or as a seasoning for vegetables.

Miso Paste with Dashi

Some varieties of miso paste, whether white, red or awase, have added dashi stock. This type of miso is usually the easiest way to make authentic miso soup as it is not required to add any extra dashi stock yourself. Simply mix a spoonful of miso paste with hot water, add some sliced spring onion and cubes of tofu and it is ready to eat.

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