What Does Miso Taste Like? A Detailed Answer

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If you love to cook dishes from different countries, you must have seen miso in many Japanese recipes. However, if you have never had the chance to taste miso, read this article to learn what miso tastes like.

Miso

Miso has a vibrant taste to it. It is salty and savory. Since it’s a fermented dish, it has a light sweetness. In short, we can say that miso taste like umami, a flavor that is the basis for many Japanese dishes.

Now, miso has become a name closely associated with Japanese cuisine. But historically, miso originated in China. It is said that the Buddhist monks were the ones who introduced miso to Japan.

You can enjoy miso as an ingredient or even as a stand-alone dish. But what does miso taste like? How is it made? And what are its health benefits? Do you want to know all about it? Then keep on reading!

What Is Miso?

Miso

In Japanese cuisine, miso is a staple ingredient. Miso unquestionably plays a part in both the salad and the curry. The fondness for miso has risen along with the popularity of Japanese cuisine, but before you try it, let’s understand what miso is.

Miso is a type of fermented paste. The ingredients for the paste are soybeans, a grain (either barley or rice), salt, and koji. Miso can be fermented for a few weeks or several years. Since it is a fermented food, it is highly nutritious.

 The use of miso isn’t restricted to Japan alone; miso is widely used in South Asian countries like China, Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

What Does Miso Taste Like?

Miso

You might have often said no to miso soup because you’re confused about the taste. Miso has been in Japanese cuisine for ages, and after all this time, it’s still there. 

Have you ever wondered what could be the one thing that makes people love miso so much? I feel it’s nothing but its unique taste and health benefits. Until now, there hasn’t been any other dish that could beat miso in its flavor. So what does miso taste like?

Miso has a tangy, funky flavor. It is salty and sweet. The base flavor of miso is umami. Miso has a fine paste-like texture, and its color varies from light cream to a deep brown. Soy sauce has a similar flavor profile to that of miso.

In its physical appearance, it is so much like peanut butter. Miso can be smooth or chunky, depending upon the variety we choose. Also, the flavor profile will be heavily dependent upon its age.

The fermentation period of miso is from several months to three years. Miso has a unique aroma that can be described as an earthy, shoyu-like aroma. The flavor and aroma will increase with the increasing fermentation period.

What Does Miso Soup Taste Like?

Miso Soup

If you have never tasted miso before, the best way to try it is to try miso soup. Miso soup is widely available in Japan and is a comfort food many Japanese people swear by. 

Is miso soup any different from miso paste? Well, the answer is yes. Miso soup has the taste of miso. However, that’s not the only taste it has. Miso paste and dashi form the basis for miso soup.

Besides these two ingredients, Japanese people add other ingredients according to seasonal availability. In short, we can say that miso soup has a fishy savory flavor. It also reflects the taste of added ingredients like seaweed, green onion, and tofu cubes.

What Does Miso Ramen Taste Like?

Miso

Ramen noodles are a classic favorite of people across the globe. The taste and mouthfeel it gives are unmatchable. If you are someone who loves ramen, then you have to try out Miso Ramen.

As we have discussed, miso has a funky and umami flavor. When added to ramen, it complements the other tastes in the noodles, making it extremely flavorful.

Miso ramen has a salty umami flavor to it. Moreover, miso is a paste, making the ramen noodles thicker when added to noodles. The sweet-sour and salty ramen are all you need on a lazy chilly evening.

What Does Miso Dressing Taste Like?

Miso Salad

Miso has a salty umami flavor to it. Hence, when we add miso as a salad dressing, it adds a salty, tangy flavor to the salad. One of the best ways to make a miso salad dressing is by mixing miso paste with sesame oil, white wine, orange juice, and some honey.

Miso dressing can be added to vegetable salads as well as chicken salads. However, if you are adding miso paste as a salad dressing, always make sure to do a quick salt taste test before adding more to it.

What Does Miso Butter Taste Like?

Miso

If you are looking for a way to add a twist to your regular sweet potato dish or even grilled fish, try miso butter. Miso butter is nothing but soft butter mixed with miso paste.

Miso butter has a salty and umami flavor to it. However, the flavor punch is slightly lighter than the miso paste. Miso butter goes very well with grilled vegetables and fish.

Does Miso Paste Taste Like Soya Sauce?

Soys Sauce

Try soy sauce if you are out of miso paste and want something that tastes similar to miso. Soy sauce has a similar flavor profile to that of miso paste. That being said, they do not carry the same flavor profile.

Miso paste has a salty umami flavor. However, depending upon the variety of miso paste we use, it could have a slightly sweet taste. On the other hand, soya sauce has a salty flavor and a strong umami flavor.

Does Miso Have A Strong Flavor?

Miso

Miso generally has a strong flavor. However, flavor changes can occur depending upon the variety of miso used. When it comes to flavor, the red miso is stronger than the white one.

On the other hand, white miso has a slight sweetness along with its salty and umami flavors. Start with white miso paste if you’re planning to taste miso for the first time.

Does Miso Taste Fishy?

Miso

It is a popular opinion that miso tastes fishy. However, that is not true. Pure miso paste is a plant derivative and doesn’t smell or taste like fish. However, most people say miso paste tastes fishy because it has miso along with dashi.

Dashi is one of the major ingredients in miso soup. Dashi is a fish broth with the smell and taste of that fish. Another major ingredient used in miso soup is seaweed. It also has a fishy smell to it.

Hence, next time you hear someone commenting about how fishy miso smells, realize that they are talking about miso soup. Miso paste is a vegan product.

Does Miso Taste Like Seaweed?

Miso

Seaweed has a salty and savory flavor with a slippery texture. Its taste is comparable to that of miso. However, seaweed lacks the umami flavor, which is the prominent flavor of miso paste.

Seaweed is an important ingredient in miso soup. The seaweed is responsible for giving a fishy-sealike flavor to the miso soup. Hence, we can say that the taste of seaweed affects the taste of miso paste.

Is Miso An Acquired Taste?

Miso

I hope I have convinced you enough to try miso. Miso is very healthy fermented food. So if you plan to get yourself a tub of miso, wait! Miso isn’t for everyone besides even though it is a healthy and flavorful food. Its safe to say that miso is an acquired taste. 

Most people from South Asian countries are raving about it because they grew up eating it. If you are someone who has never had miso before, it is advisable to go to a nearby Japanese restaurant and try some of it. If you like it, have more of it. If you don’t like it, try another variety of miso!

Different Types Of Miso And Their Different Taste

Miso

If you have only tasted miso once and think you hate its taste, I beg you to take a second chance on miso. Because there is a huge variety of miso, there will probably be one for you too!

Based on its color, miso can be categorized into four. These are mentioned in the table below.

TypeColorFlavor Profile
White MisoCream or light yellow in colorMild umami flavor with a hint of sweetness
Yellow MisoYellowUmami flavor with a slightly acidic undertone
Red MisoReddish to brown in colorPungent umami flavor with a strong acidic note
Mixed MisoLight redBalanced umami flavor

Where To Buy The Best Miso From?

Miso

Now that you have decided to try some miso, let’s see where we can get it. If you are going to try miso for the first time, always try to get an authentic Japanese-made one. Miso is a staple dish in Japan and other Southeast Asian countries. 

Even though miso is gaining a lot of popularity, it is still hard to get in all grocery stores. Most supermarkets these days have miso. However, if you can’t find miso at a regular grocery store, pay a visit to the nearby Asian grocery store.

The best miso paste is available in South Asian countries. Hence, if you or any of your friends are planning to visit any of these countries, ask them to bring some for you. If nothing else works, try searching online. Amazon has a lot of varieties of miso. Read the reviews and pick one according to your taste profile.

How To Store Miso In The Right Way

Miso

One of the most pressing concerns you must have is misc storage. Whether you have an unopened or a used pack, miso should be stored properly. So how should we do it?

  • An unopened pack of miso could be stored in your pantry itself. It won’t go bad until it gets exposed to air. However, caution should be taken to keep it away from direct sunlight and too much heat.
  • Ideally, an opened or half-used pack of miso should be stored in a refrigerator, ideally in the freezer, with a temperature of -5 degrees Celsius. But if the brand doesn’t demand that you store it in the fridge, you can keep it in your panty.
  • Even though the chances of a fungal attack on miso are very low, always try to use a clean and dry utensil to scoop miso out of the packet.

How To Tell If Miso Goes Bad?

Miso

Miso is a food that has undergone fermentation. Most of the time, miso can be used up to the expiration date listed on the package. If you are unsure of the expiration date, you can safely eat miso paste up to three months after opening it.

We cannot, however, assert that miso fully spoils after a certain amount of time. The microorganisms in miso continue to function once exposed to air, which is why it occasionally takes on a stronger flavor after being opened.

The chance is very low that miso will get spoiled. However, you must discard miso if you see any fungal growth on it or a change in its flavor. 

What Is The Right Way To Cook Miso For The Best Taste?

Miso

After reading about miso, I hope you have decided to make some dishes with miso as one of its ingredients. Now that you are ready to cook with miso, there are some things you should take care of while using miso paste.

  1. Choose the miso variety wisely. We have already discussed in the article various types of miso and their taste differences. If your recipe calls for one type of miso, and you have another type, make the necessary changes while substituting. Otherwise, there will be huge taste differences.
  2. If you are cooking a recipe that needs dashi, check the ingredient list of miso before adding dashi to your food. Most of the time, miso paste comes with dashi as one of its ingredients. Hence, you may not need to add any more extra dashi to your cuisine.
  3. Always add miso paste as the last ingredient to retain its flavor and aroma. Prolonged cooking of miso can lead to the loss of its aroma.
  4. Once you are done cooking a dish that uses miso, always make sure to cover the dish with a lid. This is to lock the miso’s aroma into the food. Open the lid before eating the dish to enjoy the perfect miso flavor and aroma.

Miso’s Nutritional Value

Miso

Miso, as we have already discussed, is a fermented food. Hence, as we know, it provides many health benefits as a fermented food. Offering many health benefits while being a delicious condiment, miso is something we shouldn’t miss!

Miso paste contains highly beneficial probiotic lactic acid bacteria and is very high in enzymes. These enzymes aid digestion, increase absorption and help maintain overall gut health.

Fermented food is considered live food. Due to the fermentation process, the nutrients in soybeans and other ingredients of miso are already predigested, making them more bioavailable.

Other than these, miso paste is also a powerhouse of many other beneficial vitamins and minerals like copper, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. It also contains many forms of vitamin B as well as vitamin K.

NutrientsAmount (per 1 ounce)
Calories56
Carbohydrates7 g
Fat2 g
Protein 3 g
Cholesterol0 g
Sugar0 g

Conclusion

Miso paste is an excellent dish to include in your dish if you are someone who loves healthy tasty dishes. Miso has a savory salty fungi flavor and is a perfect addition to soups, salad, and noodles. If you never had the chance to taste miso, take this article as a sign to do that. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What tastes similar to miso?

Soya sauce is the one ingredient that has a similar flavor profile to that of miso paste.

What does miso paste taste like?

Miso paste has a salty tangy umami flavor.

Is miso a strong flavor?

Depending upon the variety of miso you use, miso’s taste can be strong or light. While white miso paste has a light flavor, red miso has a strong and pungent flavor.

Why is miso paste good for you?

Miso is a fermented food and has a lot of enzymes and good probiotic content in it. Hence miso is very healthy food.

Does miso taste fishy?

If the miso paste has dashi as one of its ingredients, then it might have a fishy taste.

Does miso taste salty?

Yes, miso has a salty taste to it. However, that’s not its only flavor. Miso has a tangy savory flavor

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