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Jan 31, 2007 10:57 AM

What Type of Miso Paste to Use in Miso Soup?

I bought some brown miso paste to use when I make miso soup. However, when I made it, it didn't taste or look like the miso soup that I've had previously in restaurants. I've seen yellow, brown, and red miso. Which one do I use? Is there much of a difference between them?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I use the shiro (white) miso, which is sort of cream color. It's the lighest and probably what you are familiar with. But you can use any color.

    There is a pretty big differences in flavor/saltiness between the different types. At least to my palate.

    3 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      Can anyone tell me how long I can keep the miso.? Where do I keep it? Refrigerate or pantry?

      1. re: Snocookie

        Most sources including the inside container of Miso Master state that it should be good refrigerated for about a year. Just be sure the lid is on tight. All the miso pastes I've encountered must be refrigerated.

        1. re: gyp7318

          It's probably true that you should keep it refrigerated, but like most cheeses, miso is a fermented product. So you can leave it out. If it happens to grow any new friends, just scrape them off and you can use what's left. If you have a tiny fridge, as I do, don't waste that precious space on miso.

    2. Thanks--I'll have to look for shiro the next time I'm at the grocery store.

      1. To paraphrase Will Rogers: I never met a miso I didn't like.

        It's a matter of personal preference. All of them make great soup... it's just a matter of how better than great.

        If you google for ("types of miso") you'll find many descriptions, but then they need to be tried. The nice thing is that you can keep it in your fridge for years, so the initial expense of sampling the types is easily amortized over time.

        I'd recommend the unpasteurized misos, not just for the probiotic benefits, but also because it indicates more care in the manufacturing process. Brands: Miso master, Mitoku, and South River are great.

        Keep in mind that "miso soup" is best made with one or more of the 3 legs of the umami triad: broth from dried shiitake; kelp (kombu); and dried fish (katsuo, or niboshi). That said, a quick zap of hot water in a mug with simply the addition of a teaspoon of miso is good by itself.

        8 Replies
        1. re: FoodFuser

          Thanks for the helpful info, FoodFuser. With that being said, what kind of broth should I use to make my soup? Is there one made w/shiitake or will simply reconstituting dried shiitakes in hot water do the trick?

          1. re: gyp7318

            Soak dried shiitake in warm/hot broth for 10-30 minutes, remove and squeeze the remaining juice into the bowl. Reserve shrooms for other uses. The broth will be a rich brown.

            Many contemporary Japanese opt for the factory extracted "dashi no moto" ("source of the dashi"), a pelletized concentrate derived from katsuo and msg (kombu is a natural supplier of msg). Others use nitrogen packed shavings of katsuobushi, while some still shave their dried/smoked/fermented katsuo.

            If one considers "dashi" to be the Japanese analog to the Western "chicken stock", then it's easier to see why there is such wide amplitude in it's ingredients and preparation. Likewise, the number of flames and arguments as to which is the "best way". There are lot of good ways to make a stock from the umami triad.

            1. re: FoodFuser

              Gyp, I just noticed you are based in Durham. Miso Master is made in Rutherfordton, in a marvelous traditional factory. The full line should be available in the Triangle.


              1. re: FoodFuser

                Get out! :) After looking at the website, I remember seeing it at EarthFare (may the Chapel Hill store RIP). I'll look for it when I'm back in the Triangle. I work up here but live in Birmingham, AL hence my dual locations.

                Thanks so much!

          2. re: FoodFuser

            As an aside, I live in a town next to the one where South River Miso is made, and one of my neighbors works there. The care and attention to old world Japanese details amazes me. I do not remember the process so well, but they actually do have people treading the beans, much like grapes were stomped to make wine.

            I just looked at their website. it's pretty interesting if you are interested in miso or traditional methods in general:


            1. re: hilltowner

              i have to second this south river recommendation. i have been ordering their miso direct to my house since i moved back from Japan. unbelievably delicious. never pasteurized, made according to season, etc. wonderful. actually, given the rise of too-much-technology, etc. in Japan itself, i would say that south river's product is actually much better than a lot of what Japanese find themselves buying at their supermarkets. wonderful stuff. go for it.

              1. re: ben61820

                Yes, South River is possibly the most traditionally produced miso in the U.S. If anyone knows if there are even more traditional, let us know.

            2. re: FoodFuser

              Will also gave me one of the three or four quotations I have tried to live my life by, "Ya caint shine a turd".

              Oh, sorry, ...any miso will do.

            3. I generally use aka (red) miso. I find the white sort of bland.

              1. As a generalization, the lighter is 'traditionally' used for everyday soup making as the darker ones are saltier and while are used for soups as well, find their way into other sauces also.

                If you only buy one batch - get the white -

                You can blend them as well to find a flovor that works for you....don't forget a splash of Mirin (cooking sake) in the soup!