What is Miso?

by Jillian Giandurco

You might have heard of miso soup, but do you know what miso actually is? Miso is a traditional Japanese paste that can be used in all sorts of ways, and offers a range of versatility to turn a simple dish into a gourmet delight. Once you learn more about miso, you’ll be adding it to all your meals, so if you’re ready to upgrade your dishes for good, here’s the rundown on everything you need to know about the ingredient, including what is miso, how to use it, and more.

What is Miso?

Miso is a fermented soybean-based paste that’s often used as a seasoning in many types of condiments like sauces and dressings. That being said, there are so many other ways you can incorporate miso into your meals, like using it as a glaze, as butter, or of course, mixing it into your soup. But lunch and dinner aren’t the only times you can enjoy the taste of the paste, because you can also add miso into your ice cream for dessert!

 A spoon with miso paste on it.

What is Miso Made From?

Now that you have an answer to the question, “what is miso?”, it’s likely you want to know how it’s made and what it tastes like before you run out to pick some up at the grocery store. Miso is made of cooked soybeans that have been mixed with koji, a culinary fungus that’s made by combining a cultivated mold with rice and used to make fermented foods like miso. There are, however, several variations of miso, which means some misos are made with different ingredients, like rice and barley. White (or shiro) miso is the mildest, while red miso has the strongest flavor due to the fact that it ferments the longest. Yellow miso falls somewhere in the middle, and is thought to be the most versatile of the three.

Miso is known for having a deep, savory, umami flavor with a hint of saltiness, which can be attributed to the fermented soybeans that it's made with.

How To Enjoy Miso?

As mentioned, miso can be enjoyed in a number of different ways. Miso is probably most commonly associated with soup, and for good reason – despite being so easy to make, miso soup has a complex flavor palette of savory umami, salty earthiness, and a hint of sweetness that is sure to satisfy your taste buds. To make miso soup, all you need to do is heat up three cups of soup stock before stirring in 1-2 teaspoons of miso, then adding in your choice of vegetables and/or noodles until the contents have been cooked. Simple, right?

A bowl of red miso.

Bokksu also has a variety of miso soup kits that’ll help you get your soup fix even quicker, like the Aosa Sea Lettuce Miso Soup Pack, Nissin Raoh Rich Miso Soup, Miso Soup Omotenashi Selection, and more.

If you can’t get enough of the tangy taste of miso, you can also try incorporating it into your meals in other ways, like using it as a glaze for your vegetables, a sauce for your pan fried fish, or a marinade for your meat. You can choose to use the paste on a grander level by mixing it into full meals like stir fries, or elevate an individual ingredient by cooking it with your potatoes and onions. And if that’s still not enough miso for your liking, you can always swap out your salt or soy sauce for the stuff. Oh, and don’t forget to satisfy your miso cravings on-the-go with Japanese treats from Bokksu, like the Yamitsuki Fried Potato: Baisen Roasted Miso chips.

As you can probably tell, there’s truly no wrong way to enjoy miso. Whether you choose to use it in your soup, sauce, or seasoning, miso is sure to take your next meal to a whole other level.