MISO - WHAT MAKES MISO SPECIAL
Updated: May 8, 2020
What is Miso and miso soup?
Miso is a traditional Japanese condiment paste that is naturally fermented by combining cooked soybeans, salt and other ingredients like rice (white or brown) or barley etc..
The Japanese Miso is actually originated from China, where the Chinese fermented soy beans and created Soy Paste (豆酱 or 豆瓣酱).
In the early Japanese days, the Miso was not used in soup; instead, it was being consumed directly or being licked like a popsicle.
It was only many years after, a monk discovered that miso could be easily dissolved in water whilest he was trying to grind the miso by adding some water.
Slowly after, people started inventing miso soup by adding different flavors to the miso and water.
Since then, Miso has became an essential condiment for most of the Japanese. Why?
Reason being is simple - it is due to the high nutritional value.
Which is why there will always be a bowl of Miso Soup in almost every meal of a typical Japanese; regardless whether it is early morning or late night.
ways to differentiate the type of miso
Before I go on to the different types of Miso, we should learn how to differentiate them first.
Japanese uses below ways to determine the types of Miso.
The texture of miso differs from smooth to chunky miso; due to the ingredient used.
When barley is used, the miso tends to be more chunky as barley is slightly harder to be broken down.
Thus, you can easily guess the grains that is used by looking at the texture of the Miso.
There are different taste of Miso. The main distinctive flavors of miso are:
Mildly salty & sweet
Strong & very salty
From the taste, you can tell how long the Miso have been fermented for. The fermentation period of miso ranges from 3 months to 3 years.
The longer aged miso would, of course, be deeper in flavor. However, do note that the taste will turn odd if the fermentation period gets too long with the wrong proportion of ingredients.
The color of miso ranges from:
Light Yellow - Brown
Reddish - Brown
Dark Chocolate - Brown
The color of miso is very crucial on identifying the type of Miso it is.
You can easily tell the strength of flavor, age and even the saltiness of the miso just by looking at the color.
Light-colored Miso = Younger & Sweeter (less salty)
Dark-color Miso = Older & Saltier
Types of Miso
Now that we have learnt how to differentiate and tell the type of Miso, we shall continue to the different types of Miso.
KOME MISO — RICE MISO
Kome Miso is most common Miso in Japan. It is made from Rice grains, Rice Koji, Soybeans, Salt and Water.
As far as you know, there are different types of Rice all around the world; like, White rice, Brown Rice, Red Rice, Black Rice etc.. Thus, Kome Miso does not have a specific color or taste, they are mainly dependent on the type of rice used.
When white grain rice are used, they tend to produce Creamy White colored Miso. Of course, Brown rice will produce Brown colored Miso.
Also, as rice can easily be broken down, the fermentation period for Kome Miso is short, no longer than 2 years. This is because the starches from rice will starts to convert to sugar very rapidly.
Below are 4 specific types of Miso that are part of Kome Miso:
1. Shiro Miso - White Miso
2. Genmai Miso - Brown Rice Miso
3. Aka Miso - Red Miso
4. Saikyo Shiro Miso
SHIRO MISo — White Miso
Made with 40% Soybean and 60% Rice (usually sweet white rice is used)
Smooth & Soft texture
Slightly sweet & milder than other miso
Fermentation Period: 6 months
Uses of Shiro Miso: Salad Dressing / Marinates for fish and vegetables
GENMAI MISO — BROWN RICE MISO
Made from 50% Soybeans and 50% Brown Rice
Slightly rough and a little nutty - as brown rice are tougher than normal white rice
Deep, rich and robust taste from the brown rice
Fermentation Period: 10 months - 1.5 years
Brown to Dark Brown color
Due to the brown rice, Genmai Miso contains lots of nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
Usually served with raw vegetables, especially cucumber - due to its crunchiness
Other uses of Genmai Miso: Condiments or Sauce / Soups
AKA MISO / Akadashi Miso — RED Miso
Made with 70% Soybean and 30% Rice
Smooth & soft texture
Strong & salty taste
Fermentation Period: 1 - 1.5 years
Contain the highest level of protein amongst all other Miso
Uses of Aka Miso: Miso Soup / Stir-fry dishes / Marinates for meat (pork/lamb/chicken), poultry or vegetables
Saikyo Shiro Miso — Kyoto/Kansei region's Specialty White Miso
A recipe originated from Kyoto, Kansei region
Made with 65% Soybean and 35% fine quality malted Rice
Very smooth & supple, almost like a softened butter
Distinctive sweet flavor, little to none saltiness
Fermentation Period: 3 months
Light beige to Golden yellow color
Uses of Saikyo Shiro Miso: Sweet white miso soup (instead of the typical salty miso soup) / marinate for fish (especially Cod Fish) & vegetables
HATCHO MISo — Soybean Miso
Made with 100% Soybean
Very thick & dry texture, possibly have to be cut with knife
Very strong flavor with soybean taste and has a slight sweet aroma
Fermentation Period: 2-3 years
Dark brown to near black color
Has a general purpose of Miso.
Common uses of Hatcho Miso: Miso Soup / Soup / Making sauces
Mugi Miso — Barley Miso
Made from Barley Grains, Barley Koji and Soybeans
Nutty & rough texture - due to barley aren't able to break down fully
Very salty with a very rich taste & has a malty flavor (as barley is used instead)
Fermentation Period: 1-3 years
Uses of Mugi Miso: Making soups or stews / Spreads
AWASE MISO — blended / mixed Miso
Lastly, Awase Miso is actually the combination of Shiro Miso & Aka Miso. Why did the Japanese create this?
The is because that both Shiro Miso and Aka Miso has a very different and unique taste; with Shiro Miso on the sweet side, while Aka Miso is more on the saltier side. The Japanese wants find a good balance between these 2 types of Miso. Thus, Awase Miso is founded.
Due to the perfect mix, Awase Miso is great to be used in any form of Miso; whether it is to be used to cook Miso soup, or as a condiment or sauce, and even marinates.
WHERE TO BUY MISO IN SINGAPORE?
Now now, where can we get these miso?
Below are the more commonly used Miso by our restaurants, which I'll recommend you now.
As you can see from the product above, you probably think it looks familiar. This particular Shiro Miso (White Miso) is known as Mikochan Shiro Miso. It is probably easily found at large supermarket.
Alternatively, you can just purchase it from the LINK HERE.
For this Saikyo Shiro Miso, it is a little more uncommon in the supermarket. However, we have stocks available with us, you can simply get them by clicking HERE.
Itacho Aka Miso Paste is also a little uncommon in general supermarket in Singapore; however, Japanese mart would tend to have them. You can also easily get them from us though clicking HERE or:
If you are interested in the other types of Miso, you may contact us at 9223 6988 (Wang) or 9180 2380 (Ziqi) for more infomation.
How to Store, Keep or preserve My Miso?
Since Miso is a fermented paste, how should I keep it?
An unopened miso can be stored indefinitely at any dark and cooled place with room temperature, just make sure that it is away from sunlight.
Once the miso is opened, you should keep it well in a container, best to be air-tight, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 years. It will be best if it is kept in freezer, and it can last even longer up to 10 years. Who knows? It has already been fermented for months and even years right?
WHICH MISO TO USE FOR MISO SOUP?
So, now that we have gone through all the different types of Miso, you must be wondering... SO WHICH MISO SHOULD I USE FOR COOKING MISO SOUP?
The best recommended Miso to be used will be AWASE MISO. This is mainly due to the good mix of these 2 miso.
Of course, due to individual preference, different persons' opinion on the correct miso to be used is varies.
RECIPES FOR MISO
There'll be a list of recipes for Miso coming soon. So please continue to stay tune for more.
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