HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Considering Miso for the 1st time

  • 8

I've seen a number of recipes lately that I'd like to make that call for miso. I'm assuming there are lots of different kinds of miso. Are any of them considered a beginner's miso that can be used in most recipes calling for miso?

Also, I don't live near any Asian markets. Can you believe that? They are all at least 45 minutes away. So I'd like to buy in a small quantity online. What would be a good online retailer to look into? I looked at Penzey's and Igourmet and they don't have it.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hmm. Are you interested in purchasing miso paste (the refrigerated kind) or powdered miso, the kind that people use to make miso soup that comes in little instant soup packages?

    I think the best way to begin your miso adventure is by trying to make real miso soup - with dashi (kind of like a japanese version of soup stock), some tofu, and miso paste. It's simple to make and eases you into the flavor of miso.


    good luck! :)

    1. For miso recipes, please post on our Home Cooking board. Please keep your responses here to good online sources of miso paste.

      1. I'd probably look into white miso for a beginner. They're sweeter and not as pungent. They're actually not the color white but a light beige shade as opposed to the darker-brownish-red shade for some of the misos.

        Here's an online source that can help you. I haven't tried their misos yet but they generally have high quality products.


        1. Online is a good way to get miso, as you can get the better brands that adhere to the old artisan standards, and are unpasteurized to offer the beneficial microflora.

          My three favorite producers and their websites are listed in here:


          1. Here are two sites with some good info.The first, Soya, explains some of the basic types. White miso, aged the least amount of time, is an easy way to start; lightest and sweetest. I don't see a way to order from them, but it's a nice explanation.


            The second, South River Miso, explains some of the slightly less common types. It's supposed to be great miso, but since I can get what I want locally I've never ordered it online. My all around favorite is the brown rice miso; it has a nice depth of flavor and medium strength and saltiness. Barley is probably the common; it's my second favorite.


            Generally speaking the lighter misos are used in summer and the heavy ones in the winter.

            1. Me, too! I had 'real' miso soup recently at a Japanese restaurant and realized it was 'way better than instant Miso-Cup. I got a cookbook at the library (The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo) and placed an order here last week:


              I'm trying white miso and red miso paste. Hoping they'll be fairly sweet and delicate and not overwhelming. I'll post again when I get my order this week...

              1. WFM carries jarred miso in the refrigerated section. We like the chickpea miso.

                1. Great advice to a new miso eater, guys. I just wanted to add that red miso is more frequently used in soups than white miso. White miso is more commonly used in other recipes. I usually keep both kinds in my refrigerator (I'm lucky enough to have Japanese grocery stores near me that carry all kinds). Once I ran out of red miso and made soup from white miso - and it was totally gross, much too sweet! I just want to say that if a new miso eater tries white miso in soup and finds it too sweet, try red miso instead. But do try it - it's great, and there's so much variety. If you have a Japanese grocery store near you, just get a couple of kinds from the refrigerated section at random, and you're unlikely to go wrong. Also good to know, miso keeps for a LONG time in the refrigerator.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sister Y

                    In Japan, white miso (shiro miso) is VERY commonly used for miso soup, especially in home cooking. Most people would characterize shiro as "slightly" sweet and lighter than red miso. White miso soup compliments fish dishes very will. White miso itself is often used as a marinade for fish as well.