Salt and pepper are possibly my classic pair of seasonings in my first years of cooking. During my journey of discovering other cuisines, I find myself stuck with an incredible condiment: miso paste. This Japanese paste is such a versatile ingredient that I can use it in most of my savory recipes.
However, as it is considered an exotic ingredient in my area, I don’t always have it available at all times. So, I have to come up with the best miso paste substitute for my time in need. If you’re wondering, “what can I substitute for miso paste?” or “what can I use instead of miso paste?”, find out how you can replace it in my post!
What Are The Types Of Miso Paste
Miso paste brings a flavorful and umami to your soups and savory recipes. You can also use this paste flexibly with a different type of miso paste. If you wonder, “what is similar to miso paste?”, you need to know the taste of the kinds of miso paste first!
Shiro miso or also known as mellow or sweet miso is a white paste with less fermented time compared to other types.
As the fermentation time greatly affects the taste of the paste, this white miso has a delicate and mild flavor which is favorable in many dressings, light soups, and sauces. It can also be a great substitute for dairy products in mashed potatoes recipes.
Another type of miso paste that is common in our recipes is Shinshu miso or yellow miso. Besides its distinctive light brown color, this paste is slightly saltier than white miso due to the longer fermentation time. It’s also perfect for many glaze and soup recipes.
If you’re a fan of strong flavor dishes, aka miso or red miso is the perfect paste for your cooking. This paste has the longest fermentation time making it the saltiest one among its kinds. There are also some sour and pungent notes in the paste, which is great for braises, glazes, marinades, and soups.
Besides these common types of Miso, you can also find some varieties of Miso that have a specific taste, like Mugi miso. This paste is a combination of mild miso and barley aroma making it sweeter than most of the miso types.
List 11 Ingredients Use As A Miso Paste Substitute
Miso paste is an amazing condiment for your daily meals, especially miso soups. However, it is not a popular ingredient that is available in every country. That’s why this list of miso paste substitutes will help you to overcome any umami required recipes.
1. Soy Sauce – The Best Choice
What is a better miso alternative than a condiment that is made of soy? As Miso is made by fermenting soybeans, soy sauce will keep the complex flavor of saltiness and soy to your recipes effortlessly.
If you only have heard of this incredible sauce now, you should start to acknowledge it in your must-have ingredient list. Soy sauce has a wide reputation in Asian countries that you can use it with literally any savory dishes. It’s super versatile and a great flavor enhancer to your soups, marinades, and sauces.
However, keep in mind that the texture of this sauce is thin and water-like, while miso is creamy with different colors. This difference in texture might not be a big deal when using it with soups or dressings. When using soy sauce, I tend to go for one tablespoon of soy sauce when the recipe asks for two tablespoons of miso paste.
Tahini paste is another great brown miso paste substitute because of the similar texture. This paste is famous in Middle Eastern cuisine to serve with baba ganoush, halva, and hummus.
This great paste has a white color with a creamy texture which is made from ground sesame seeds. The savory flavor of Tahini is mild with slightly nutty and creamy notes that might not be suitable for miso-based recipes. However, you can use it as a flavor enhancer in salad dressings, marinades, and warm-weather soups.
3. Fish Sauce
When mentioning versatile condiments, it is a pity not to mention fish sauce. Fish sauce is super popular in Southeast Asia countries because of its salty flavor which can be a great red miso replacement.
As the name suggests, fish sauce is created by fermenting fishes for a long time. Therefore, the flavor of fish sauce is rich, tangy, and salty with a note of the ocean. Similar to soy sauce, this red miso substitute has a dark brown color with a thin texture that blends perfectly with your soups and sauces.
With the umami taste, you can use the sauce for stir fry, marinades, and soup recipes asking for red miso. You can also substitute a tablespoon of red miso with half a teaspoon of fish sauce to bring a flawless result.
4. Vegetable Stocks
A popular choice for you to use mellow white miso substitute is vegetable stocks. Because of its light color, you can use the stock in vegetable soups and mashed potatoes recipes.
Having been made from different types of vegetables, umami seasonings, and herbs, vegetable stocks are the best choice for a healthy miso paste alternative. Because of its tanginess which is similar to a miso paste, you can use it in liquid vegetarian food recipes.
As vegetable stocks are a versatile ingredient, feel free to mix them with different vegan dishes to create the taste you want.
If you are looking for a replacement for miso paste with the exact taste, you would love tamari. This ingredient is a genius move if you want to bypass any of your Japanese friends with a miso recipe without miso paste.
The reason why Tamari is such a great substitution for miso paste is due to the making process. Tamari is the thin layer of liquid that was produced from fermenting soybeans.
This condiment is the byproduct of the actual miso! There is no doubt that it will replicate the same flavor you want in your miso soups.
However, the texture of this ingredient is thin which only fits with liquid-based dishes. Therefore, you can use it perfectly in marinades and sauces.
As miso is a Japanese ingredient, there is no reason why not to mention its substitute originated from Japan, Dashi. It is a popular ingredient in Japanese style dishes incorporating the umami taste in various dishes like miso soups and ramen.
This pale broth is the definition of umami flavor as it is made with kombu, a type of seaweed, to bring the distinctive oceanic flavor that signifies Japanese cuisine. Therefore, using Dashi for miso replacement is a brilliant and creative way to work on a Japanese recipe.
7. Soybean Paste
If Miso paste is made from soybean fermentation, you can substitute it with soybean paste. It’s logical, right? However, their flavor is not completely the same.
Soybean paste or also known as Doenjang which is a famous ingredient in Korean cuisine. You can find this thick brown paste in many Korean recipes because of its complementary flavor.
The combination of sweet and spicy fermented chile paste, the thickness of soybean, and the saltiness of the fermented salt make this fermented soybean paste an ideal ingredient in soup, dipping sauce, and stew recipes.
However, when using soybean paste as a red miso paste substitute, you need to consider the amount because the saltiness of Doenjang is so much higher than the miso paste.
8. Sesame paste
Japanese cuisine is under the strong influence of Chinese cuisine. Therefore, when cooking I can always substitute different ingredients from Japan with Chinese condiments. A possible miso paste replacement and soybean paste substitute is Chinese sesame paste.
Similar to tahini, Chinese sesame paste is made of white sesame seeds with a rich flavor of tanginess and umami flavor. Another plus point for this ingredient is its consistency is as thick as miso paste which can replace miso in dipping sauce and dressing.
It is also used to enhance the flavor for cold noodle soups, hot pots, Suan Ni Bai Rou, and desserts as well.
9. Chinese Fermented Black Beans
Another Chinese condiment that is a potential substitute for miso in recipes is Douchi. This popular ingredient is fermented with black beans instead of soybeans. However, the difference of bean type is not a huge disadvantage as once they are fermented, the distinctive flavor of the bean is overcome with the saltiness.
This condiment is known for its funky, sweet, and salty taste making it a great substitute for red miso paste when adding in savory recipes like a marinade, mapo tofu, and stir fry. However, the texture of black beans is harsher than soybeans which are normally used for seasoning sauces and dishes instead of eating raw.
10. Miso Varieties
Lastly, you can also use a different type of miso to replace each other. The flavor of the signature miso will be consistent in any miso type that you choose. Nevertheless, it is not the first option as it is tricky to substitute each other as for recipes that require white miso, red miso might be too salty to be a substitute for white miso paste.
If you replace red miso with white miso, try deepening the umami taste by adding more appropriate ingredients to create the same red miso effect. For example, you can use shrimp or fish to add in miso soup, or clams or crab in other savory soups for an umami flavor.
11. Homemade Miso Paste
If you prefer the real miso paste flavor and taste, why not make your miso paste? The fermentation process can take you 2 days to make but once you know how to make homemade miso paste, you don’t even need to worry about running out of it.
- 240g of soybeans
- 120g of rice koji (dry)
- 16g of salt
How to do it?
1. Put on a pot and cook the soybeans at low heat. Keep a low water content so that the beans are not too moist.
2. Once they are cooked, use a blender and put them in with the rest of the ingredients inside. Blend them well to achieve a smooth texture.
3. Put the mixture in the container and cover it with a muslin cloth. Let it ferment in a warm condition (around 77 degrees Fahrenheit).
4. After 5 days, you can store the paste if you are content with the savory taste. Leave it to ferment for a longer time if you want an intense flavor.
How To Use Miso Paste In Cooking
Miso paste might be only familiar to you in Japanese recipes like miso soups, miso dengaku, and miso-glazed eggplants. However, with its versatile flavor and creamy texture, you can combine it with many of our Western dishes.
Combining it with your regular dipping sauce will add a complex enhancer to your sauce flavor that goes amazingly with sandwiches or vegetables, grilled meats, and seafood. You can also utilize the creamy texture of white miso to combine with butter for a delicious spread on bread or meat like pork chops.
Glazes and marinades are two regular methods of bringing out the umami flavor of miso paste. Thus, it is perfect to try it on glazed vegetables and marinade meats for just a short time.
1. How To Store Miso Paste?
Storing miso paste is quite similar to storing tomato paste. The most common way is to store it in a dark and cool place like in the fridge. Keep the paste inside an airtight container and you can have it for 3 months.
2. Miso Powder Vs Paste: Are They The Same?
Miso powder is miso in powder form. Which means it will have the original taste of miso paste. However, the tricky part is the powder form. As the powder can be hard to blend entirely in liquid, it may result in lumpy miso soups which are not appetizing for many people.
Playing with different ingredients for your recipes can be super helpful if you don’t have the specific ingredient in your kitchen while making the dish.
For recipes asking for miso paste, you can always replace it with the most suitable miso paste substitute in my list to level up your cooking game and create your unique recipes.