Do you have a giant pot of miso in your fridge? And looking for simple ways to use miso paste?
I’m a little obsessive about keeping the random jars in my fridge to a minimum.
What is miso paste?
It’s a fermented paste made from soybeans. I read somewhere that miso and soy sauce were invented by Japanese monks to add savoury (also called ‘umami’) flavours to vegetarian food. So it’s a super useful ingredient for adding loads of flavour.
7 Simple Ways to Use Miso Paste
1. Salad dressings.
Miso adds a lovely savoury complexity to a vinaigrette. For a salad for two, whisk together 1 tablespoon sherry or wine vinegar, 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 scant teaspoon of miso paste. Or try the recipe below!
2. Miso Onions.
A super tasty way to take your burgers to the next level. I pinched this idea from fab Sydney chef Dan Hong.
Cook your onions in a little butter until soft then remove from the heat and stir in a little miso to season. About a teaspoon or 2 is usually enough… Let your tastebuds guide you.
3. Main course soup.
Miso soup is probably the first thing you think of when it comes to miso. The traditional form is a light broth usually with some seaweed and a few cubes of tofu. But miso soups can also be lovely meals in their own right…
For 2 serves, heat 3 cups stock or water to a simmer then stir in 1-2 tablespoons white miso. Then add about 400g (14oz) veg, protein and/or noodles. Simmer gently until everything is cooked.
4. In Marinades.
To get all those savoury flavours really embedded, use miso in a marinade. Don’t feel like this needs to be an overnight affair. Even 5 minutes can make a difference.
A good place to start is to combine 6 tablespoons white wine or mirin or Chinese Shaoxing wine with 2 tablespoons miso. Marinate enough chicken, beef or lamb for 2 people. Pan fry it or BBQ.
5. Seasoning alternative to salt or soy sauce.
Because miso is salty it can be a great way to season and add even more flavour than you’d get from just salt.
6. Sauce to serve with pan fried meat or fish.
I got this idea from Nigel Slater’s latest (brilliant) book called Eat. Cook the meat or fish in a little oil. Remove the pan from the heat and place protein on serving plates to rest. Stir in a tablespoon of wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons white miso and a tablespoon of hot water in with the pan juices and drizzle over your meat / fish to serve.
7. Stir frys.
Miso is super tasty in stir frys. Because it’s a bit of a delicate flower, best to cook your stir fry and remove from the heat before adding the miso.
Which miso should I buy?
There are loads of different types and to be honest I haven’t tried them all. I find that the paler the colour, the milder the flavour so I usually buy the whitest one. Also called ‘Shiro’ miso.
But any miso can be used in the ideas above, you just may need less if using a darker or red paste.
Recipe ideas for ways to Use Miso Paste
- Japanese Omelette with Miso Mayo
- Fish with Lime & Miso Butter
- Japanese Steaks with Ginger Miso Mustard
- Fast Roast Fish with Miso Mayo
- Tahini Miso Turmeric Sauce
- Miso Harissa Roast Cauli
- 6 Simple Ways to Make Vegetables Taste Good
The Best Miso Paste Substitutes
If you can’t find miso or you’ve run out, see my favourite Substitutes for Miso Paste.
Corn & Miso Salad
If you’re in Oz, make sure you make this before corn season ends! It’s lovely on its own but also super tasty as a side to some BBQ salmon or other fish. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, frozen corn will also work but you may need a little more miso to tone down that super sweetness.
Inspired by the Lovely Emma Knowles from my favourite food mag – Australian Gourmet Traveller.
1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Pop unpeeled corn on a tray and bake whole for 20-30 minutes or until corn kernels are hot and cooked.
2. While the corn is cooling, scrub radishes and finely slice into coin shapes using a mandoline if you have one or a sharp knife and a steady hand.
3. Mix miso, vinegar, tahini and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl. Taste and season with salt or extra miso as needed.
4. When the corn is cool enough to touch, peel away the husks and ribbony silks. Cut kernels from the cob and toss in the dressing. Discard the husks.
5. Toss in the radishes and serve with coriander on top.
different vinegar – use sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will also work.
frozen corn – pan fry about 2.5 cups corn kernels in a little butter until warm then toss into the dressing.
different veg – frozen peas or broad beans will also work. Sliced snow peas make a crunchy alternative to the radishes.
carnivore – toss in some crunchy bacon or serve with roast or grilled chicken.
different herbs – if you hate coriander try mint, basil or flat leaf parsley or any combo of these.
more substantial – you could toss in some cooked noodles to make it more of a meal or try adding some steamed basmati or brown rice or cooked quinoa.
no tahini – you could use almond butter or another nut butter or leave it out of the dressing and serve the salad sprinkled with sesame seeds.