If you are into Japanese cuisine, then you are sure to be a fan of miso paste that provides a salty umami flavor. But if this is the first time you have heard of it and you are planning to use it for a recipe and can’t find it, you are in the right place.This article will help you understand what miso paste is and the best substitutes for it.
Miso paste is such a versatile ingredient that it makes for a great addition to several recipes. You can mix it into sauces, dressings, batters, and soups and make for a show-stopping dish. But what do you do if you don’t have it?
Soybean paste, soy sauce, tamari, fish sauce, tahini, dashi, Adzuki Beans, chickpea paste, mushrooms, anchovy paste, and Worcestershire sauce are all the best substitutes for miso paste.
Before we move on to discover the best substitutes for miso paste, let’s first understand what it tastes like, its uses, and its health benefits.
Quick Peek: Miso Paste
This section will tell you about miso paste, its taste, flavor, uses, and health benefits. By understanding its characteristics, you will be able to choose the best substitute for miso paste to replicate its flavors.
What Is Miso Paste?
Miso paste is a popular Japanese condiment that has strong, salty umami and salty flavor with a creamy consistency. It is made from fermented soya beans with koji and salt and is a staple of Japanese cuisine. Generally, miso paste is made by combining mashed soybeans with salt and koji.
Miso paste is said to have originated in ancient China and was brought over to Japan by Buddhist monks around the 6th century. It is considered an ancient superfood and it is also believed that the longer the paste has been aged, the richer it will taste. The recipe for instant miso paste was first developed for military commanders to eat.
While there are endless miso options available in Japan, in other countries, you might find fewer options; however, it is available at most grocery stores.
Describing Miso Paste: Flavor and Texture
Miso paste has a deeply funky layered flavor that provides the quintessential umami taste. Just a teaspoon of this go-to paste can add a meaty element to your dish. Although it is the key ingredient for miso soup, it goes wonderfully well in a plethora of recipes.
In terms of texture, miso paste is creamy in nature and blends well in liquids. Miso paste comes in several varieties. However, there are three colors available, which generally include white, red, and yellow. Every color indicates a different flavor profile and texture.
White miso paste, popularly known as Shiro, is the mildest in flavor and has sweet notes to it. Yellow miso or Shinshu comes next with a more flavorful profile, and then comes the red miso, which is the strongest of the three and has a distinctly salty flavor.
If you are using miso paste for the first time, it’s best to begin with a milder version and work your way up to stronger flavor profiles.
Uses of Miso Paste
Most of you must have heard about miso soup, which is a typical dish made using this paste. However, this versatile ingredient, with its deep flavor profile, pairs well with a variety of recipes. You can use it to flavor broths, stews, soups, salad dressings, sauces, stir-fries, marinades, ramen, noodles, pies, and many other recipes.
Miso Paste On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Miso paste is incredibly healthy. It is rich in several vitamins and minerals that provide health benefits. According to USDA claims, one tablespoon of miso paste contains 33.7 calories, 1 gram of fat, 4.3 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber. It also contains 1.1 grams of sugar, 2.2 grams of protein, and 634 milligrams of sodium.
Miso improves digestion, strengthens the immune system, boosts brain health, promotes healthy blood, and is a good source of electrolytes.
Why Use A Substitute For Miso Paste?
Although miso offers a great flavor to your dishes, you may have to use its substitutes due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, you may be allergic to soy. Secondly, your grocer might be out of stock. Or, your palate may not like the flavor at all.
Hence, for the above-mentioned reasons, I have curated a list of the best substitutes for miso paste.
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12 Best Miso Paste Substitutes
Now that we have discussed everything about miso paste, let’s check out all the miso paste substitutes you can use in your recipes.
1. Soybean Paste
With soy as the key ingredient, soybean paste can act as a great substitute for miso paste. It is a staple in Korean cuisine that is easy to find and can be a useful replacement in several dishes. Soybean paste is made purely with soybeans and salt as compared to miso paste.
In terms of flavor, soybean paste and miso paste can be used interchangeably, but soybean has a much more complex and strong taste. Hence, when substituting it for miso paste, you can start by using smaller quantities and adjusting it according to the recipe.
As for the texture, miso tends to have a smooth consistency, whereas soybean is usually chunkier.
Just like miso paste, soybean paste can be used in soups, broths, stews, dressings, and sauces. In addition, you can also prepare soybean paste glazed salmon, noodles, braised beef in soybean paste, dumplings, and much more.
2. Soy Sauce
If you’re looking for soy taste in your meals but are unable to get your hands on miso paste, then you can easily substitute soy sauce for it. While miso is a Japanese cuisine staple, soy sauce is a Chinese liquid condiment.
Both miso and soy are fine choices that provide robust flavoring to dishes. However, the major difference comes in the consistency of the two. In comparison to miso, soy sauce comes in a liquid consistency and is classified under three categories light, dark, and thick.
While light soy sauce has a thinner consistency and is saltier in flavor, dark soy sauce is sweeter in flavor because of molasses and has a thicker consistency.
With its liquid consistency, soy sauce is usually served as an accompaniment with dishes to be drizzled on top. Although soy sauce makes for a great miso replacement, you will need to use it in lesser quantities since it is saltier in taste.
Tamari is another Japanese sauce that makes one of the best substitutes for miso paste. It is basically the liquid remains of the miso paste and is one of the various types of soy-based sauces made in Asia.
In appearance, the color of Chinese soy sauce and tamari are quite similar due to which the two can be easily confused. However, in terms of consistency, tamari is slightly thicker as compared to soy sauce.
In terms of flavor, tamari has a perfect balance of sweet and umami flavors.
Tamari is typically used as a dipping sauce. It is served with sushi and sashimi and is used to flavor dishes like stir-fries, soups, sauces, dumplings, rice, and noodles.
If you are particularly looking for that umami flavor in your recipe, then dashi will make the best substitute for miso paste. Dashi is a Japanese broth made of water, dried kelp, and bonito fish flakes.
In comparison to other miso replacements like soy sauce or tamari, dashi comes with a lower saltiness. Hence, you can use the same amount of dashi as an alternative to the required amount of miso in your recipes. You can consider using dashi in recipes that can hold more liquid.
5. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce resembles the flavor of miso paste and fits as a suitable substitute for non-vegetarians and people with soy allergies. It is a condiment made from fermented fish that’s gluten-free and is often used in Southeast Asian cuisine. This ingredient is more widely available than miso paste.
The fish sauce brings out the umami flavor profile, but it has a much thinner consistency. When being swapped for miso paste, a little goes a long way. You can use ¼ the quantity of fish sauce in place of miso paste.
Tahini is one of the best substitutes for miso paste as it’s almost identical in texture. It provides the same creaminess to soups and sauces as miso.
Tahini is made from sesame and is nutty in flavor. While using it as a replacement for miso, tahini can be mixed with fish sauce or soy sauce to derive a miso flavor profile. But for soy-allergic people, tahini on its own works as the best alternative for miso paste when used in lesser quantities.
7. Adzuki Beans
Adzuki bean paste is another non-soy option that can be used as a replacement for miso paste. This paste has a thick and mushy texture that makes for a good ingredient in soups, dumplings, and sandwiches.
However, this paste, in comparison to miso, has a sweet flavor. Adzuki beans are mainly used in making Japanese sweets or fermented products. You can find this paste in ready-made cans or raw adzuki beans in most Asian grocery stores.
8. Chickpea Paste
Chickpea paste works as a great substitute for miso paste as it partly offers a similar flavor profile.
With sesame, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, as its key ingredients, chickpea paste or hummus provides the same umami flavor as miso paste. Besides, its texture is as dense as miso paste.
Chickpea paste is a great option for miso paste as the paste or even chickpeas are easily available and are pocket-friendly. It is a versatile ingredient that works well in many recipes.
Mushrooms are used in several dishes by chefs to derive their delicious savory flavor, which you can actually call umami. Hence, mushrooms easily make for a great substitute for miso paste.
You can use them as a paste or sliver them into pieces depending on what the recipe calls for. The only difference lies in its color.
10. Anchovy Paste
If you love fish and are looking for similar flavor notes in your recipes, then anchovy paste can be used as a great alternative to miso paste. The only difference between the two lies in their consistency. Anchovy paste contains more oil than miso paste, so when using this as a replacement, you have to be careful about the oil content of your recipe.
11. Worcestershire sauce
Similar to soy sauce varieties, Worcestershire sauce is full of flavor. It’s a fermented sauce made from barley malt vinegar, molasses sugars, salt, onions, and tamarind extract and also contains anchovies.
It has a slight smokiness which provides an interesting twist to many dishes. You can use one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce for half a tablespoon of miso paste.
12. Vegetable or Meat Stock Cubes
Depending on your dish, you can use vegetable or meat-based stock cubes to add flavor to any of your dishes. These cubes help both vegetarians and non-vegetarians to solve the problem of miso paste availability.
Short Recap For Best Miso Paste Substitutes
After going through all the substitute options in the article, I am sure you have found many easy alternatives for miso paste. But, for those of you who are still a little confused about which one to pick in terms of flavor and texture, let me make it easier for you by breaking it down into different categories.
Best Miso Paste Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor:
- Soybean Paste
- Soy Sauce
- Fish Sauce
- Anchovy Paste
Best Miso Paste Substitutes In Terms Of Texture:
- Soybean Paste
- Anchovy Paste
Miso Paste Substitutes That You Should Consider Using Last:
- Adzuki Paste
- Anchovy Paste- due to its oil content
- Vegetable or Meta Stock Cubes
How To Substitute Miso Paste
Miso Paste Substitutes
- Soybean Paste
- Soy Sauce
- Fish Sauce
- Adzuki Beans
- Chickpea Paste
- Vegetable or Meat Cubes
- Anchovy Paste
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Go through all the substitutes mentioned above.
- Choose the substitute that suits your recipe.
- Use the substitute in required amount.
I hope this article has helped you learn a lot about miso paste. It is a versatile condiment with a unique flavor that lends a robust flavor to several dishes. With that, I also hope that the substitutes section has helped you to figure out the best alternatives in terms of flavor and, most importantly, availability.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is miso soup the same as miso paste?
Miso paste is the base of miso soup which is added with many more ingredients.
How long can miso paste be refrigerated?
Being a fermented product, miso paste can be kept for a couple of days. However, it’s best to consume it fresh to derive the best flavors.
What can I use instead of miso-paste in case I have none of the above substitutes?
Salt, especially flavored salts, can work as a great alternative in the absence of the above-mentioned substitutes.
What is the mildest variety of miso paste?
Red miso paste is considered to be the mildest flavor of the available miso paste varieties.
How much soy sauce to substitute for miso paste?
You can substitute ½ tablespoon soy sauce for one tablespoon miso paste.