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Oct 23, 2006 10:39 PM

Miso Paste - How do I use it

I have seen it in the market for years, have even seen Gwenyth make it on Oprah, and still I don't get it.

Was at Whole Foods over the weekend and asked some lady who picked up a container how she uses it and she was a snoot nose and said she uses it in San Diego, where she lives.

So please tell me,how do I use it on chicken and fish.

Many thanks.

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  1. Snoot nosed indeed! Outside of mixing up basic miso soup, you can use it to deepen any broth. I also like to mix it into my salad dressings, spaghetti sauces and tons of marinades. A simple miso, soysauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil dressing can top soft tofu with a few scallions chopped up as garnish. Yesterday I made a quick (3 hours or so) red miso marinade with soy sauce, mirin and honey for some fish then seared and roasted it. Sauce reduces down deliciously too. The miso marinated fish isn't original, but I think using it whenever you want a bit of extra depth is fantastic. I especially use it in vegetarian dishes because the paste has a super umami taste. For a home cook, miso hardly ever goes wrong. Just keep adding till you hit the right balance.

    1. thejulia's responses are great, but for someting completely easy just smear the miso on a fish steak or filet, and broil. Mackerel and salmon are my favorites for miso.

      You should have pointed out, equally snootily, that "how" and "where" don't have the same meaning.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pei

        i like to smear miso on fish steak as well (you don't need to put too much), i never broiled it however, usually bake at 350, about 10-15 minutes, miso on salmon is delicious

      2. So to be clear, I can spread the white miso right on the meat (fish, chicken or steak) and then cook anyway I like.

        thejulia, you mention that you mix the miso with soy, so my question then is, miso is not salty, as soy is. I know I sound kinda dumb, eso since I have eaten miso for years, just never cooked with it and I while I believe in trial and error, I would rather not error with $50 worth of sea bass,



        10 Replies
        1. re: yummyinmytummy

          I use miso all the time in soup but I'm not a big fan of it directly on fish -- it is too strong and sweet for me. However, the Nobu-style miso marinade (which he uses for the miso black cod at his restaurants) is really good. If you Google "Nobu miso cod" you'll find some recipes. He adds mirin, sake, and sugar to the marinade. That actually should make it stronger and sweeter, but it also penetrates the fish differently.

          1. re: cornflower55

            Nobu was on an episode of Martha Stewart's old FoodTV(?) show, and here's the recipe he demo'd for his miso cod & eggplant: I've used this with great success for both black cod and japanese eggplant.

            I also like to combine white miso with sugar and mirin (both to temper the saltiness of the miso paste) and use it as a dip for sliced japanese cucumbers.

            1. re: foodophile

              This link to Martha Stewart isn't working; I've found recipes (on her site) and elsewhere that talk about the cod; what does one do with the eggplant?

              see for example:

              1. re: DGresh

                Sorry about the link. The link was for Den Miso; you can use it with fish (and probably chicken) and eggplant. I cut/paste the recipe below.

                For Nobu's eggplant (also from the Martha Stewart site), cut Japanese eggplant in half lengthwise and score the flesh in a diamond pattern. Brown in canola oil with the skin side up for 1min, then turn and cook for 30 seconds. Remove eggplant from pan, brush with the Den Miso, and then broil for 30 seconds or until heated through.

                Here's the recipe for Den Miso:

                1 1/2 cups white miso
                3/4 cup sugar
                3/4 cup sake
                3/4 cup mirin

                Combine miso and sugar in the top of a double boiler. Add sake and mirin, and whisk to combine, using a heavy whisk. Cook over boiling water, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved and the color begins to darken, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

            2. re: cornflower55

              Now something none of you have mentioned here. There are different types of miso. I don't know what the differences are among them. When I go to Berkeley Bowl, I see a bunch of different colors, types, etc. I chose one a while ago and put it on some fish. It was so salty and overpowering we had to rinse the fish off after they were cooked.

              Any help gladly accepted.

              1. re: oakjoan

                This thread keeps getting better with age, as do some misos.

                Those interested in the diversity of misos could start here:


                "Grains/legumes/seeds... dried ground and fermented in a salt environment... with an Aspergillus starter infection" could serve as a broadly encompassing definition of "what is miso", but there are probably exceptions even outside that broad circumscription.

                It's more than just "soybean paste", just as tofu needs a better moniker than "bean curd".

                Shiro (white, and mild), aka (red), mugi (barley), hatcho... all are worth a tasting to find your preference. I keep those four on hand, but that's being very exclusive towards the other varieties.

                In respect to my Southern roots, I should search out a blackeyed pea/rice miso to add some kick to the New Years Hoppin' John.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  I'm not familiar with the different types of miso, but the standard miso paste, (bean curd color), is the one that i have. Don't cake on the miso, put just a little bit, like butter on toast, it doesn't have to cover the entire fish and you should be fine. I did the caking on the miso and it was bad, real bad.

              2. re: yummyinmytummy

                miso is certainly salty. I like it with japanese eggplant, it makes a nice sauce or you can spread it on and broil (never done that but have read about it).

                1. re: yummyinmytummy

                  sorry jill, i just signed back on today. miso is usually very salty. white miso is very delicate, it would be good for a long marinade or salad dressing. actually, taste the miso you have to get a better idea and feel free to be really creative. i can even imagine it in a dip or a spread (as somone said, like marmite). i even like eating it straight sometimes in teensy spoonfuls.

                  1. re: yummyinmytummy

                    Thats why its good to test with a small amount.

                  2. Sorry to have missed the "Miss Me-So-Snootie" incident. My probable response to her would have allowed us to include the interrogative "which", as in orifice.

                    Miso is also wonderful as a smear on grilled skewered blocks of firm tofu. You can start with miso, and add stuff toward the sweet scale, or go the other way with nut butters.

                    Unpasteurized raw miso in soup is something I try for every day, for the microflora. Keep the miso under 160 degrees in preparations to avoid home-pasteurization. It's good just in plain heated water, or in a traditional dashi, or in chicken stock. There are many sources on the web for artisan raw misos.

                    Skinless chicken thighs, smeared with a miso marinade and ziplocked for 2 days in the fridge, then baked, will amaze you.

                    1. Sometimes I'll spread some on toast ... mmm ... "Japanese marmite".