What's the best Miso Paste Substitute?
Miso paste is a must-have in my kitchen. This Japanese condiment is worth its weight in gold. It offers such a unique combination of salty, savory, spicy, and rich umami flavor.
But what happens when you run out and need to find a quick substitute for miso paste?
After much trial and error, I came up with a great list of miso paste substitutes for any recipe that gives me that same great flavor.
Check out my list of the best miso-paste alternatives. If you are out of miso paste, read on to find the best miso pastes substitute you already have in your kitchen.
Easy To Find Miso Paste Substitute For Any Recipe
Soy sauce, vegetable stock, fish sauce, and salt are some great substitutes that you are likely to have on hand right now.
If you are looking for a sub for miso paste you might also be wondering where to find miso in the grocery store. Check out this article, Where do I find Miso Paste in the grocery store?
A Full List of the Best Miso Paste Substitutes & Alternatives
Can I substitute soy sauce for miso paste? YES, soy sauce is the best substitute for miso paste because it is easy to find. Soy sauce is also made from fermented products like miso.
Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans like most miso varieties. As for the flavor, soy sauce is a close match.
Soysauce has a salty flavor that is similar to the umami flavor of miso paste.
What we love about soy sauce is that it offers similar nutrients to that of miso sauce and it is great for vegetarian dishes since it contains zero animal products.
So, if you are a vegan and cannot say no to miso, soy sauce makes an excellent substitute.
Soy sauce, however, has a fragile consistency compared to miso paste. It may, therefore, it might be unsuitable for some recipes, but it works for soups and recipes that do not emphasize consistency.
Soy sauce may also present a problem where color plays a role in a recipe. Soy sauce may make the dish darker than necessary, especially if it calls for yellow or white miso paste.
Related Topic: Worcestershire sauce substitutes
In such a case, you can opt for light soy sauce or use a very minimal amount in the recipe. Soy sauce is also saltier than miso, so you want to bear that in mind while using it.
If you want a thicker consistency, mix a little tomato paste in with the soy sauce. Or add a little anchovy paste to the soy sauce to achieve more of an umami flavor.
Vegetable stock is a healthy substitute for miso paste.
The point we are aiming for when substituting is to obtain the same taste and ingredients as well as the health benefits.
The vegetable stock paste is made from vegetable broth, herbs, and umami seasonings, which are varied depending on the flavor you are going for.
What we love about vegetable stock is that you can change umami seasoning to match that of miso paste.
You can also create the thickness of the paste, depending on the recipe or dish you are preparing. The vegetable stock paste is excellent because of the flavors it incorporates.
There is no part of the veggies that are wasted while making the broth. All the nutrients and flavors from the herbs fit right into any soup.
Vegetable stock is also vegan-friendly. Vegetable stock is a good substitute for miso paste in soups. The tastes of the two are, however, a little different.
Tahini is a suitable substitute when you are going for the look and feel other than the flavor of miso.
Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, which are ground to create the paste, while miso is fermented using soybeans and other grains.
Tahini is therefore suitable as a substitute since it feels and looks just like miso paste. It can be a great substitute where a thick paste is required.
Tahini, however, falls short in terms of flavor. Combining it with anchovy paste or a little fish sauce will help it achieve more of the much sought-after Unami flavor.
Tamari- what can be closer to miso than a substitute from its production process? Tamari is similar to miso paste in flavor as it comes with the same umami taste and saltiness.
Tamari substitutes beat soy sauce in thickness and richness in flavor. If you are looking for a miso paste substitute for a dish that requires consistency, I would recommend tamari instead of soy sauce.
Soy sauce, however, wins when we are considering the nutrients it brings to the table compared to tamari.
Tamari is a liquid and not a paste. Therefore, it may not be the perfect substitute for some dishes.
Fish sauce- if you are on a gluten-free diet, but you are still after the goodness of miso paste, fish sauce is an excellent substitute.
This sauce not only eliminates soy and gluten from your diet, but it also provides the same complex flavor as miso.
Fish sauce is available in a savory flavor. The sauce differs from miso in that the flavor in miso is more profound.
Fish sauce is also lighter consistency, and the taste and consistency make it a not-so-perfect substitute for some recipes.
Fish sauce is readily available too in almost any grocery store near you. Since this sauce is very salty, start by using very small amounts until you achieve the taste you are going for in your recipe.
Good Ol' Salt
Salt- this has got to be the cheapest and most available substitute for miso paste. The savory flavor makes it suitable to add to all recipes.
Salt is only suitable where the recipe requires a minimal amount of miso and contains a handful of other ingredients for flavor.
Low Sodium Miso Paste Substitute
The healthiest low-sodium substitute for miso paste is vegetable stock and tahini. Pick a low sodium vegetable stock from the supermarket or make your own so you have total control of the amount of salt.
When you compare tahini paste to soy sauce, fish sauce, tamari, and salt, it is, without a doubt, a much healthier choice.
Tahini has a lot fewer calories, fat, and salt, so it efficiently works as a healthy substitute for miso.
Tahini is also an excellent option as it has many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Soy-Free Miso Substitute
Non-soy miso- no one is being left behind. If you are intolerant to soy beans, there is miso made from chickpeas for you. It can, however, be harder to find or even come at a higher price tag.
The chickpeas miso does not fall short in flavor. The only difference is that this substitute uses chickpeas or garbanzo beans as the common ingredient instead of soybeans.
The taste and health benefits are all the same.
Last update on 2023-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
How To Use Miso Paste In Your Cooking
Miso Mayo Sauce
I’m sure you’ve heard of the super popular garlic mayo spread called Aioli. Now try that with miso paste.
You can mix a tiny bit of miso with mayo to make a mouth-watering spread great for sandwiches or using as a dip for vegetables, or a sauce for grilled seafood and meats.
Miso Butter Spread
Combine four tablespoons of butter with two tablespoons of miso and a pinch of cayenne or freshly ground black pepper. So easy!
Brush it in on chicken, pork chops, or fish. Miso butter is also great for flavoring your favorite grilled or broiled vegetables.
Miso marination is a great solution to turning any recipe into a savory dish. Early in the day, take your choice of protein, seafood, or meat, and cover it with a mixture of miso, sake, and mirin. In the evening, wipe the meat dry and grill or fry in a frying pan. The results are delicious every time because miso is an omnipotent ingredient, enhancing whatever it touches.
Miso paste makes a normal salad dressing explode with flavor. Simply combine the miso paste with vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for a stunning savory taste.
Sauces- if you like to have a sauce to dip your meat or veggies in, miso makes a great sauce thanks to its salty and savory nature.
You can whip up your sauce depending on the recipe and drizzle all over your meat before serving or leave it in a bowl for dipping.
Soups- you can't deny miso soup is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of miso paste. Miso paste is the main ingredient in making a main course soup that can be made using seaweed and tofu cubes.
You can toss in a veggie and some noodles or proteins to add body to it.
Stir fry- of course, miso makes a great companion for stir-fries. The miso does not need to be cooked due to the fermenting process it has undergone.
You can simply set your dish down from the heat and pour miso sauce all over to simmer.
What is miso paste?
Miso means fermented beans in Japanese as the delicacy is native to Japan and China and is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Miso paste is made from fermenting soybeans and other ingredients such as wheat, barley, and similar grains to create the umami flavors it is famous for.
Rice is also added in the fermentation process for an exquisite, intense flavor. Salt and koji, which is a fungus, are also included in the making of the paste.
Yeasts or kobo facilitate the fermentation process, depending on the time it takes.
Miso paste can transform any dish to a whole new level thanks to its flavor profile.
How does miso paste get such an amazing flavor?
History has it that miso was invented by Japanese monks who were bound on adding flavor and particularly savory or umami flavors to vegetarian food.
Salt is used in the fermentation process, giving miso a distinct salty and savory taste.
The time taken to ferment miso will determine the strength of the flavor, with the flavors ranging from very savory to a mild sweet.
Red miso is fermented for over a year, up to three years. White and yellow miso is fermented for less than one year.
The different colors of miso are also determined by the fermentation process, with the colors ranging from dark red to light yellow and white.
Miso paste has a similar texture to peanut butter. It is a smooth, soft, and creamy texture.
Although miso is not appropriate as a stand-alone dish, you can taste it a little to determine its flavor before using it in a recipe.
Please note that different kinds of miso have their distinct flavor, and learning the difference will ensure you are doing your recipe justice.
What’s the Difference Between White, Yellow, and Red Miso?
The first time I was buying miso sauce, the grocery store attendant slapped me with the "which one?" question. I was informed there are a few different types of miso paste but I didn't know the difference. So, what sets each kind of miso paste apart?
Red miso paste is fermented for the longest period of time, between 1 -2 years. The longer the fermentation process, the stronger the taste and the darker red it will be, hence the name red miso.
It is also made from soybeans and barley or other grains.
Red miso has a mature, pungent, and very salty umami flavor. You can use red miso for marinating your beef cuts and chicken and other hearty dishes.
The red or dark brown color is an excellent addition to your recipes. Due to the strong flavor of red miso, a little goes a long way.
White miso, also called Shiro miso has a light color and is made from soybean paste and rice, which are then fermented for three months.
Although the signature taste for miso is salty, white miso comes in a slightly sweet flavor since the fermentation process is much shorter than its counterparts.
The shorter fermentation time also makes it the lowest priced miso compared to red which takes up to two years to ferment.
So, if you are on a budget, white miso is definitely the recommendation I would give. It's also a great option if you are not very keen on intense flavors.
White miso is the most popular miso variety since it can be used for almost all dishes.
Whether you are preparing a tart, acidic flavored, or slightly bitter dish, white miso will blend right in.
This miso does excellent with soups, light marinades, and dressing salads. I've even spread it on toast and topped mashed potatoes with it.
Yellow miso is also called Shinshu miso. Yellow miso is made from fermented soybeans and barley like red miso. Its flavor profile falls in between both the red and white miso.
It is slightly more potent than white miso, but milder compared to red miso. Yellow miso is great for dressing salads, soups, and marinades.
Mixed miso is made by combining red and white miso. Its popularly known as Awase miso. Since Awase miso is made from two very different flavors of miso, it's versatile.
It can be used for creating different dishes, especially those times you are unsure of what flavor to go for. Mixed miso is fermented for 1-1.5 years and comes in a dark brown color.
While searching online, I read that there are over 1000 varieties of miso with different textures, flavors, and colors. The ingredients used and length in the fermentation process set the distinction between the kinds of miso.
However, the darker the color of the miso, the longer it took to be fermented. Also, darker miso is more pungent and stronger in taste. The darker the berry, as they say.
You can also use the varieties of miso interchangeably, depending on the recipe. You should, however, be keen on what you are going for in the recipe in terms of flavor.
Red miso is not very complimentary for use instead yellow or white miso. However, if you have no option, just use as little as possible to avoid excessive salt since the red miso is very strong.
Health Benefits of Miso Paste
Miso paste is a source of antioxidants, dietary fibers, enzymes, and probiotic microflora that are beneficial to the digestive tract.
Keep in mind, that only an unpasteurized version of miso paste will have these health properties. If you buy a pasteurized brand, it will be void of any enzymes or beneficial microorganisms.
More Ingredient Substitutes
Salted shrimp can be a hard-to-find ingredient. Here are some useful Substitutes for Salted Shrimp.
Have a hard time finding grape leaves to make your fermented pickles extra crunchy? Here is a great list of 11 Natural Sources of Tannins For Crunchy Fermented Pickles.
Do you ever find yourself wandering through a grocery store wondering, “where do I find miso paste in the grocery store?”
Kimchi is another great fermented food that can be hard to pinpoint in a grocery store. Where is Kimchi in the grocery store?