Why Miso Paste Is The Secret Ingredient Everyone Needs


Before you get intimidated thinking miso paste is too exotic of an ingredient for your lifestyle, think again. Miso paste is just a thick paste made from fermented soybeans that’s popular in Japanese cuisine. You can find miso paste at your local health food store or Asian market, so it’s completely in reach for the average consumer.

Miso paste has the power to give anything that umami-rich flavor. Umami is considered the “fifth taste” — next to salty, sweet, bitter and sour — which you taste in foods like fatty meats, aged cheeses, tomatoes, mushrooms or shellfish.

There are three main kinds of miso paste: white, yellow and red. Red is the most pungent of the group, white is on the mild side and yellow is right smack in the middle. What to go for depends on what flavor you want.

So, what can you do with miso paste? You can make soup for starters. Let’s say you want to make a quick soup and you don’t have any chicken broth. Whisk a spoonful of miso paste into the water and there you go. You instantly have a soup base.

You can also whisk miso paste into a salad dressing, roast vegetables with it, use it to marinate meat, add it to a pasta sauce, glaze a piece of fish or mix it with butter to spread onto your toast. For a salty and sweet snack, mix a tablespoon of miso paste with a little peanut butter and dip some pretzels in there. If you’re looking for a good place to start, here’s a white miso paste we like to use.

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When it comes to versatility, miso paste is pretty high up there. Since it’s a fermented food you can keep it on your shelf for close to a year without it going bad. Miso paste is also a natural way to get probiotics into your system.

On its own, the fermented soybean paste is tangy and salty, so anything that you feel is a little bland will benefit from a tablespoon of this unique ingredient.

If you’re cooking for friends or family and you want your food to have that unidentifiable flavor component, so you can say things like “Oh, it’s my secret ingredient,” miso paste is your answer.