You’ve heard about miso paste, right? It’s a type of fermented soybean paste that is famously used for miso soup and ramen. The past also features in many other Japanese recipes, making it a valuable addition to your repertoire.
There are now plenty of miso paste brands out there, some of which have fantastic flavor profiles. However, learning how to make miso paste yourself is even more powerful. After all, fresh ingredients always taste so much better. Making your own miso paste also gives you full control over the flavor profile. You can even decide the style and intensity of your paste.
In this post, we’re digging into how you can make miso paste for yourself and the best uses for this powerful ingredient. Don’t worry if the process seems difficult, it’s all very easy once you get started.
P.S. If you can’t wait, here are a few exciting recipes that rely on miso paste.
- Sous Vide Miso-Glazed BBQ Beef Steaks
- Slow Cooker Miso-Poached Salmon
- Slow Cooker Soy-Miso Glazed Beef Pork Ribs
What Is Miso Made Of?
As we already mentioned, soybeans are the base ingredient for miso paste. Soybeans have a poor reputation these days, but they’re actually pretty healthy and packed with nutrients. Besides, we’re talking about fermented soybeans, which will provide you with probiotics and other benefits.
Beyond this, you simply need salt and koji. Now, koji deserves a special introduction, as this ingredient won’t be familiar to most people. It’s actually a naturally occurring culture that’s best described as mold-inoculated grains.
Koji is used in a variety of famous Japanese recipes, including miso, sake, and soy sauce. You can now find koji in some specialty stores in the United States or order it online instead.
How To Make Miso Paste
The first aspect of miso paste is the ingredients, so let’s begin there. For this recipe, we’re using roughly 1.4 pounds of soybeans, 5 cups of rice koji, and around 1.5 cups of salt. This is a good starting point, although other recipes will use their own balance of ingredients.
To begin with, you’ll need to prep your soybeans. This includes washing them and then soaking them for around 18 hours. You can leave them for longer than this but don’t cut the soak time short.
The soaking time is essential because soybeans are typically dried. They need a long soaking time to absorb moisture and be usable.
After the beans have been soaked, you should rinse and cook them. If you’re using a pressure cooker, then you’re looking at roughly 40 minutes. For the stovetop, the cooking time can be between three and four hours, but might take up to six hours instead.
The cooking process is just like beans, as you’re simmering the legumes in water. The soybeans are ready to go when they can be easily crushed between your thumb and forefinger. While simmering the soybeans, it’s important to regularly skim off any gray foam that forms on the surface.
Once the soybeans have been cooked, you can drain them and mash them. It’s best to mash a small number of soybeans at a time, as this gives you the best consistency. Alternatively, you could go for a food processor, which is easier and even more consistent.
Then, you just need to mix the soybeans together with salt and koji. This step involves a decent about of kneading, as the salt and koji should be evenly mixed throughout the soybeans.
Once everything has been mixed together nicely, you need to store the miso in a clean jar. Be sure to pack the soybean mixture firmly into the jar for this step, as any air pockets can quickly lead to mold growth.
During this step, you can also spread a thin layer of miso starter on the bottom of the container. This isn’t strictly necessary, but can help to encourage fermentation.
You can also place some plastic wrap on top of the paste, then add a weight of some type to keep it all in place. Doing so keeps the air out and prevents mold from forming.
That’s it for the practical steps in making miso. Now, you simply need to wait. If you’re preparing miso in the summer, then it should be ready in three or four months. If you’re making it in the winter instead, it takes closer to six months.
Test the miso periodically to get a sense of the flavor profile. Once it reaches the flavor you’re looking for, store the miso in the fridge. The cooler environment of the fridge will slow fermentation, reducing flavor changes and keeping your miso where you want it for longer.
This is crucial. After all, you’ve waited four to six months to make your miso, so you’ll want it to last as long as possible.
In the directions above, we stepped you through how you can make miso yourself. However, that’s just one recipe. Miso is often characterized as white, yellow, or red, often varying in fermentation time, ingredients, and flavor profiles.
Plus, if you’re new to making miso, you might want more detailed instructions and images for each step of the way. No worries, we’ve got you covered! Here are some fantastic miso paste recipes you can try for yourself.
Miso Paste From The Revolution Fermentation
If you want to learn about fermentation, revolutionfermentation.com is the site for you. Not only do they offer a fantastic miso recipe, but they also offer tools and starters for your own fermentations.
The miso recipe is incredibly detailed, providing you with information about the different types of miso, the benefits, and flavor profiles, plus all the details needed to make miso yourself.
There are plenty of images too. These show you what each step looks like and should help to keep you on track.
Four-Ingredient Miso Paste
Here’s another recipe to try. It comes from justonecookbook.com and features the traditional four ingredients.
The recipe is perfect for beginners, as the instructions are very clear and there are answers to every possible question you might have. There’s even a section with tips, to make sure your soybeans always end up perfect.
Miso Paste From Chopstick Chronicles
There’s also this recipe from chopstickchronicles.com. This one offers more details about the different colors of miso and the different ingredients that can be used.
There’s also a great schedule-based guide for making miso, so you know what steps to take and when to do so. As Shihoko points out, miso is very easy to make. The biggest challenge is waiting six or so months for the miso to be ready (but that’s the case for all miso recipes).
Miso paste can be prepared at any time of the year and will always be delicious. However, making miso in the fall and winter months is often better, as there are fewer contaminants in the air.
Fermentation is also slower in the cool months. This is actually useful, as it helps to develop a deeper flavor.
Finally, if you start making miso in autumn, then you’re able to use fresh soybeans. Focusing on fresh ingredients will always give you better tasting miso paste.
The simplest way to use miso paste is to mix it with a little water. This dissolves the paste and makes it easy to use.
This doesn’t mean you should boil the miso though. Doing so removes some of the aromatic qualities and means your meal won’t taste as good. It’s better to stir the miso in during the final stages of cooking instead.
If you’re using miso in a soup, you might need to dissolve it in liquid first, then strain it. Miso doesn’t dissolve as well as you might hope for, so failing to strain it could give you clumps of miso in your soup.
For more specific instructions, check out the recipes below. These show you delicious ways to use the paste and give you detailed instructions for making the meal taste exceptional.
Easy Miso Soup
This miso soup recipe comes from detoxinista.com and is as simple as the name suggests. You can even prepare the soup in just 30 minutes, using familiar ingredients.
Like many recipes, Megan relies on white miso. This is the lightest color of miso and has the mildest flavor. The light flavor is often perfect, as you don’t want the miso to overpower other ingredients.
15 Minute Miso Soup
Here’s an even simpler recipe. This one comes from minimalistbaker.com and can be prepared in just 15 minutes.
Traditional miso soup takes longer to prepare, but it’s always fantastic to have a simple version up your sleeve. You never know when you’ll need it.
Easy Miso Soup
Finally, we have this miso soup from thewoksoflife.com. It relies almost entirely on pantry items, so you don’t need many fresh ingredients at all.
There are a few unusual ingredients in the mix, but they’re all ingredients that you’ll use in other recipes as well. The recipe itself is so simple that you can easily make it when you’re sick and stupidly low in energy.
So far, we’ve been focusing on using miso paste to make soup. However, that’s just one approach. Miso paste is a surprisingly versatile ingredient.
Below are a few interesting recipes to get you started.
This miso salmon recipe is one of many delicious meals from acouplecooks.com. It’s also fantastic, as you can take the miso glaze from this recipe and use it in many other situations. Sonja recommends trying it on sauteed vegetables or your favorite type of fish.
Miso is the star ingredient in the glaze and the entire recipe. Other ingredients are simply used to give you a smooth texture and consistent flavor.
Easy Homemade Miso Sauce
If you want a simple way to use miso paste, then this recipe from healthy-delicious.com is the way to go. The recipe uses a handful of ingredients to give you a smooth and delicious sauce that can be used as a dipping sauce, a spread on sandwiches, or as a glaze.
This is a great approach if you like the flavor of miso paste, but don’t want anything too intense. It’s also much healthier than anything from the store, as all the ingredients are fresh.
You can also choose whether to add maple syrup to the sauce. Maple syrup provides a touch of extra sweetness, which goes well with many recipes.
Here’s another simple recipe to experiment with. It comes from chefnotrequired.com and includes just two ingredients – miso paste and butter.
The style is a little like compound butter, except that it is made using miso paste instead of herbs. Adding butter to miso paste is a genius idea. Doing so mellows out the flavor and makes the miso paste even more versatile.
Red Miso Olive Oil Cake
Want an unusual way to miso paste? If so, this recipe is perfect. It comes from sylviawakana.com and teaches you how to make a cake using red miso paste.
Despite the use of olive oil and miso paste, this cake has plenty of sweetness. It’s even topped with a miso caramel sauce (of all things!).
While the cake won’t be for everyone, it’s a brilliant one to experiment with. After all, the traditional cake flavor combinations can get a bit boring after a while. Why not make something unique instead?
Then there’s this recipe from liveeatlearn.com. It’s exactly what the name suggests – mayonnaise with miso flavoring. The miso adds a distinct umami flavor to your mayo, making it much more exciting.
Sarah uses white miso to make the recipe, which helps to keep the flavor profile mild. However, you could use a different type of miso if you wanted a strong flavor hit.
Easy Spicy Miso Noodles
Here’s a more traditional recipe. It comes from thefoodietakesflight.com and teaches you to make delicious miso noodles with hardly any work.
This would be a perfect weeknight dinner, as it only takes roughly 15 minutes to get the meal done and on the table. Despite being easy, the noodles end up with a fantastic flavor balance. Why not try them for yourself?