Miso is made by the fermentation of soybeans – very commonly, with other grains such as rice and barley. This process results in a rich, savoury paste that not only seasons a dish, but lends it instant umami depth, making it much more exciting than plain old salt. The fermentation also cultivates minerals, vitamins and gut-friendly bacteria, making it a very healthy paste for something that sounds too ‘instant’ and delicious to be good for you. To reap the maximum digestive benefits of miso, you should avoid boiling the ‘live’ miso, just stir it into soups at the last minute.
Also known as shiro miso, this miso is a light golden yellow paste. White miso is fermented for the shortest period of time, about a year. It’s the least salty, and has a delicate, mildly sweet flavour from the high percentage of rice used. This makes white miso the most crowd-pleasing and versatile variety – suitable for light soups, sauces and a wide variety of other dishes. If you are new to miso, you should probably invest in a tub of white miso first.
Fermented slightly longer than white miso, with barley and sometimes rice, yellow miso (shinshu miso) is a golden yellow to light brown colour. It has a slightly richer and saltier flavour, but is still mild enough to be used in a wide variety of dishes. When it’s made with barley, you often also refer to it as mugi (barley) miso. You can find mugi miso in both smooth and chunky textures.
Here you’ll find our extra special varieties of miso including Korean Chilli Miso and Organic Brown Rice Miso.
Despite its name, red miso (aka miso) refers to any miso that’s a dark red to deep brown colour. This miso is fermented for a much longer time and is generally quite salty with a strong, intense flavour. The flavour can range widely (salty, earthy, fruity), depending on the fermentation time and secondary ingredients used. Use red miso for hearty braises, stews and marinades, with ingredients that have a more assertive flavour.
A bowl of miso soup is one of the simplest and most comforting things to eat and to make. You only need to stir in a tablespoon of miso paste into a bowl of hot water, along with a drizzle of sesame oil, generous shakes of white pepper and some spring onions. From start to finish, a plain bowl of soup takes a couple of minutes– maybe a bit more if you want to beef it up with other ingredients. Try miso soups with noodles or rice; fresh vegetables and herbs; and/or a bit of chicken or seafood.
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Miso is one of Japanese cuisine's most frequently utilised seasonings, and its uniquely mellow umami flavour lends itself to an enormous variety of dishes. As well as traditional miso soup and noodle dishes, miso can be used in sauces and marinades, in nabe hot pots, in pickles, as a pizza topping, and, for the very adventurous, ice cream.
Marukome has been in business in Japan since 1854, and have now come to be recognised as the largest miso supplier in the country. But the work does not end there. Marukome are always on the lookout for new innovations in the world of miso and koji, as well as for ways to bring Japanese cuisine’s superb fermented foods and condiments to the rest of the world.
Hiroshima-based miso makers Masuyamiso know that miso is a sought-after health food all over the world, and they want to bring good quality miso, as well as other foods that make up Japan’s fabulously traditional and healthy eating culture, to the rest of the world. Miso is their main focus, but Masuyamiso also sell koji, nabe hot pot sauce, and yakiniku sauce.
Hanamaruki are one of Japan’s most successful miso makers, and not without good reason. Since the company started in Tokyo in 1918, Hanamaruki have prided themselves on making great-tasting, genuine, nutritious miso, using the best ingredients and utilising both the tried and tested traditional miso-making methods and the new technologies available to them.
Since setting up shop in 1936, Hikari Miso’s mission has been to keep it natural, traditional, delicious, and healthy. As well as selling a variety of great-tasting miso pastes, Hikari Miso also sell instant miso soups, inari tofu wraps, harusame noodle soups, and other authentic, traditional Japanese foods.
Recipes & content about miso courtesy of Great British Chefs