Cooking with Japanese Miso Paste

July 4th, 2012By Category: Food & Dining

miso soup

Miso paste is a traditional Japanese food made by fermenting soybeans with a mould called koji and sea salt. The most common types of miso are red, white, barley and soybean. Miso was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks in the 7th century, and has several well-known health benefits.

Red miso is a mixture of white rice, barley or soybeans fermented for one to three years. It contains the highest levels of protein. White or yellow miso contains a higher percentage of rice koji and less soybeans, is sweeter than red miso and contains a higher percentage of carbohydrates and a lower percentage of protein. It is only fermented for a few weeks and has a shorter shelf life than other varieties, usually up to two months refrigerated. Soybean miso is a reddish-brown, chunky miso, made only from soybeans with a fermentation period of at least a year.

Miso has many health benefits and a lot of these can be contributed to the koji mould. It is a probiotic, which is good for digestive relief and contains many B vitamins, including B12.

How Can I Use Miso Paste?

  • Add a teaspoon of miso paste to hot water for a nutritious alternative to tea or coffee
  • Apply a thin scraping of miso under tahini on some wholemeal toast for a healthy breakfast or snack
  • Miso Soup (see recipe below)

Basic Miso Soup Recipe (in 15mins, Serves 6)


  • 4 cups (1 litre) dashi stock
  • 20g dried seaweed
  • 150g silken tofu, cut into 2cm cubes
  • ¼ cup (75g) red miso paste
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. Place dashi in a large saucepan and bring to the boil
  2. Reduce heat to low and add seaweed
  3. Cook for a minute then add tofu and cook until heated through
  4. Place miso in a bowl
  5. Add a little dashi, stirring until miso dissolves
  6. Add miso to the saucepan and stir to combine
  7. Bring back to the simmer
  8. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle over green onions


Other great ingredients to add to miso soup include shitake mushrooms, carrots, daikon and udon noodles.

Photo by: foodhealthyrecipe

Author of this article

John Asano

John Asano is a blogger, web developer and freelance writer living in Gifu, Japan. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he writes about the must see sights and attractions in Japan at Japan Travel Advice, as well as about Japanese culture and events on his blog Japan Australia.

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  • Thanks Berryz, Nothing beats the freshly made stuff but the Ajinomoto instant dashi powder is good when you are in a rush or want the convenience.

  • berryz says:

    For those in the US, you can buy instant dashi stock powder at an Asian supermarket. I use the one from Ajinomoto. You can also make it fresh with dried Bonito flakes and a small piece of Kombu. The powder makes it so much easier though.


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