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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: https://www.marthastewart.com/page.jh.... 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".

                      1. My grandma used to mix it with vinegar and sugar till it was sweet and tangy and smear it on steamed asparagus. It was excellent. We mix it with a little mirin and sake and spread it all over whole chicken and let it sit for quite a while. Then we either bake it or rotisserie it. It is heaven. Grandma used to just smear it plain on fish and broil it. It was one of the only ways I could eat fish. Not a natural fish lover.

                        1. Miso, grated ginger, oil and rice wine vinegar make a tasty vinagrette.

                          A tablespoon in chicken stock makes a much better base for ramen.

                          Mix with a little vinegar and touch of soy for a great veggie dip.

                          1. What delicious-sounding suggestions here! They sent me back to reread the superb NPR piece from a few weeks ago that was filled with incredibly useful information about MISO - all the various kinds & uses - and basic recipes.

                            Highly recommend it: it will give you a fine basis to proceed on some of the fine ideas posted here. "Mastering Miso's Mysteries"

                            The links on the page to other pieces by Betsey Block for NPR, and to her blog are also well worth following.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: rgallica

                              Thank you a million rgallica! That NPR piece really helped me out.

                              1. re: rgallica

                                I tried a 3-miso-course meal, starting with soup made from the NPR article. I used shiro miso. It was absolutely delicious and really fun and satisfying to make. I had never cooked with enokis (or been partiuclarly thrilled by them) but they were amazing here. I am excited to try making this soup with different types of miso and different ingredients!

                                I used Bittman's ginger-carrot dressing (see link in rubymydear's post below) on redleaf lettuce and watercress. The dressing really makes salad substantial and filling (its hard not to eat this dressing with a spoon).

                                I tried glazing sole with the miso glaze from the NPR article, and broiling. The flavor was great but leave out the added salt--hard to understand why the recipe calls for extra salt, unless your miso is very low in salt. A light glaze probably works best.

                                1. re: rgallica

                                  Love this. Thanks for the link, rgallica!

                                2. Yummyinmytummy, don't forget also that miso comes in a variety of strengths. I think you mentioned white miso, and if I'm correct, I think that's not as strong. I personally use red miso more in my dishes because it's more flavorful.

                                  Many of the suggestions above are great. What you just need to keep in mind is that this is a paste, and you either smear the paste on food (which will make it very intense but the texture to me is not that great) or thin out the paste with liquid, such as the aforementioned soy sauce, Mirin, rice wine vinegar, etc.

                                  To add more depth to your miso marinade, add sake and some sugar to balance with the rice wine vinegar and soy.

                                  I also find that miso has a very subtle taste so sometimes marinading something for a long time won't necessarily pick up the flavor. So I usually end up making a miso reduction of the marinade to drizzle over the finished dish.


                                  1. My favorite local Japanese restaurant makes an appetizer I love called "Eggplant Misoyaki". I've never made it myself, but the following looks like a decent recipe how-to:

                                    1. Maybe the lady at Whole Foods was just embarrassed to reveal how she used it?

                                      There was a great article by Mark Bittman in NYtimes on miso uses, IRIC he used it to season steak.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: welle

                                        I bet she didn't know what to do with it...just buying it to look cool ;-)

                                        1. re: lisa13

                                          I was told it was good for me so I bought it. Now I have 5 year old aged miso in frig. If it really gets better with age then I must have some real valuable stuff LOL!

                                          Comment: I see a lot of people cooking it. If they want the taste I can see that. Otherwise, cooking kills the beneficial probiotics.

                                      2. Today's NY Times features a miso dressing recipe by Mark Bittman:


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: rubymydear

                                          i made this, it is a delicious alternative to my usual vinagrettes...now I have this white miso, which led me to this thread! Thanks everyone!

                                        2. you can also mix it with butter and some chopped onion and roast chicken, turkey. makes for really good pan drippings and gravy if you're going to make gravy.

                                          1. I love to make miso glazed tempeh or tofu - I'm proud to say I have a recipe in the newly published Esalen cookbook. I learned the fundamentals while working in a Japanese restuarant in the early 90's in Carmel, CA...miso paste is sweetened and used as a glaze for eggplant.

                                            I made a less sweet version and adapted it for vegetarian cusine.

                                            the basic jist is to use white miso (less salty than darker types) and to use equal parts miso paste and a sweetner (maple syrup is great!) add a touch of sake or mirin and a touch of sesame oil and brush on whatever you are cooking. I've found that a very dilute version of this (add water) can be a great basting fluid.


                                            1. Here's a really good article on miso that appeared in this week's SF Chronicle. So good I'm off to educate myself on miso. It says

                                              "Miso is high in umami ... It adds complexity and intensity to many dishes ... A little miso makes even a light dish satisfying and fulfilling ... without a lot of added calories. Plus, it contains the same beneficial lacto bacteria found in natural yogurt."

                                              It goes on to explain how to mellow miso by heating it, adding egg or sugar.

                                              There are tips on what to look for when buying it ... the magic four ingrediants ... soybeans, water, salt and a grain ... skip those with additives because miso aged naturally without the chemical help develops a more complex flavor.

                                              It discusses the three types of miso ... light, medium and dark, how they are made and the best uses for each type.

                                              It discusses a few of the hundredes of varietes, how to store miso, a few recipes and much, much more

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. On 10/25 there was a big miso discussion - check it out. It included an NPR link (I think) or you could go to NPR sire for a big article on miso lore and recipes. "Mastering Miso's Mysteries" by Betsy Block. I like it in a simple soup like you get in Japanese restaurants with tofu, raw sliced scallions, cooked carrots, maybe baby bok choy. It keeps forever in the fridge.

                                                1. I would bake or grill chicken or fish and slice it on top of miso soup.To make Miso soup(just spoon it out)2-3 heaping tablespoons in a small pot of water bring water almost to boil but dont allow it to boil,add,mung bean noodles or rice noodles,few cloves crushed garlic and a 3rd of a green onion a squeeze of lemon juice.Put kim chee in bowl and put the soup over it.You could add shitake mushrooms or fried tofu for more bulk.Whatever.Very satisfying and good for you.
                                                  I would of asked her what the recipe was for San Diego LOL

                                                  1. People mentioned fish above. I rub skinned white fish fillets with miso and let sit overnight before grilling under the salamander.

                                                    1. I use miso - particularly red miso - in salad dressings. I combine olive oil, low sodium soy (a better flavor I think), balsamico and then a dash of sesame oil for flavor. You have to really work on the miso to get it to break up.

                                                      I use this on salad greens but also on reconstituted hijiki (seaweed).

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. re: billjriv

                                                          I didn't but I will next time; the suggestion to mix it with broth or water first is dead on I think.

                                                      1. One thing to know about miso, if you're mixing it into a broth or soup or something, is that you can't just put it in. It'll turn into a lump in the bottom. Take a little bit of the broth and mix it with the miso in a separate dish, then mix that back in.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                                            in culinary school we were taught to push it thru a fine sieve strainer, that helps incorporate it better....i use one of the small sifters for baking or powdered sugar....

                                                          2. I opened a container of shiro miso. This is the 1st time I ever purchsed it. Tried to make miso soup, but the recipe on the tub didn't taste as I thought it would, and threw the soup away, it was not very tasty. What is the shelf life after opening. For broiled salmon how much miso to mirin, honey, soy sauce etc for 1lb of fish? Thanks

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: michele cindy

                                                              Miso is fermented, so it should last forever. At least a year, if not longer (I had my latest one last through several moves.) As for miso soup, did you start with dashi or some kind of soup stock? The miso alone is not enough to flavor the soup-- I usually start with dashi, add root veggies, then add the less dense stuff (like tofu and fried bean curd), then add miso towards the end. As someone above posted, you need to dissolve the miso in a separate container first. Actually, I have a strainer, so I use that to diffuse the miso into the broth. The miso is plenty salty for me, so I don't add soy sauce. If you have a container of red miso or darker kind, mixing the two misos will yield a more complex taste.

                                                              As for the fish, someone above posted a ratio, but it seems like a lot of stuff for 1# of fish. If you do a google search on black cod marinated in miso, you can use the same proportions. (Though I wouldn't recommend doing it on salmon, since it has a very strong taste.)

                                                            2. try this suggestion from Cynsa Jul 03, 2007 08:26PM
                                                              It's her grandma's shiso miso condiment, and I use it all the time for tofu/veg stir fries

                                                              Now that the shiso is frozen in the garden, I omit that - it's still great
                                                              although I guess you could use a pinch of dried powdered shiso

                                                              My favorite miso is made in Conway MA by South River - amazing stuff

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: pitu

                                                                Don't boil the miso--it gets bitter. I only buy the Japanese brands. The ones at Whole Foods, etc. don't taste right to me.

                                                                1. re: foodslut

                                                                  i suggest the brands at 99 ranch, theyre completely asian and awesome....not some mock american brand. and theyre cheaply priced too....

                                                              2. GREAT thread. Has me very interested in miso. I'm looking for a substitute for anchovy fillets which i dissolve in a bunch of olive oil and garlic and then sautee broccoli for use in a sauce over pasta. sounds like some sort of miso paste might work. I need something salty. Any ideas which type and where to buy. I h ave a whole foods that's convenient but one poster didn't like. Thoughts?

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: amielp

                                                                  most miso pastes are salty (except those with reduced sodium, or premium white miso), but I recommend Red miso paste. They are usually richer in taste compared to white miso, and they are good for savory food :)
                                                                  I highly recommend you to go to some asian market near you, preferably Japanese one, but if not, Korean market. I love Japanese miso paste, and asian markets usually have the best ones on their shelf.

                                                                  1. re: yummytomato

                                                                    We are cleaning out our fridge and I have all types of miso, sweet white (like Saikyo miso), regular white (Shinshu miso), red miso, mugi miso, and Hatcho (100% soybean) miso.

                                                                    I have been trying to use a bit here and there and have had great success in pasta meat sauces, taco ground beef, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf. Mixed some of the sweet white miso with cream cheese and sugar for a great fruit dip. Very diverse, rounds out all of the recipes, and adds umami to each of the dish.

                                                                2. I like to use it as a spread on sandwiches. miso, tahani, avocado, sprouts, tomato, arulgula. heavenly.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Ginger Baker

                                                                    This sounds like a great combo, although I'll probably try it without the tomato (not a fan). I might add thinly sliced red onion and eat it on spelt bread. Thanks for the idea!

                                                                  2. Mark Bittman in "How to Cook Everything" includes a number of uses for miso that I'd never have thought of. For example, diluting a little of the paste to a thick liquid and adding that to peas (after draining or while sautéing). Like soy sauce, you can use it instead of salt, but it offers much more.

                                                                    Miso soup is delicious and healthy. The basic recipe calls for more than just miso paste, and making it myself is more than I want to do. But my local oriental-run produce store stocks a miso paste that includes the other ingredients too - I think it's called kombu miso; just mix a tablespoon of the paste with a cup of hot water.

                                                                    1. I mix red miso with sesame oil, dry sherry, a bit of honey and a little pepper and spread on salmon before broiling. This is one of the favorite standards at our house.

                                                                      1. I'm glad this old thread go resurrected in the weekly CHOW Coking Tips e-mail. I missed this, and it answers a lot of questions I've had.

                                                                        I also got this tip from someone on the What's for Dinner? thread (I think): slather one of the darker miso pastes (mine is a reddish-golden) on steaks an marinate a while before grilling. Delicious.

                                                                        1. I think of miso as a substitute for animal protein, not to be added to animal protein. It's a great, concentrated base for soup or vegan chili. Sort of like a condensed vegetable stock,--and the soy miso gives you not only great depth of flavor but also a protein kick.

                                                                          But watch it, cuz it's wicked salty. I think some people spread it (really thinly, tho) on a rice cake for a snack. It's a strong (and maybe acquired) taste, and a concentrated food, so you may want to start small :)