Have you ever heard of white miso paste?
If not, it’s a unique and versatile condiment that has been used for centuries in Japanese and Chinese cooking.
Used as a thickener, natural preservative and even a flavoring agent, the possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to incorporating this ingredient into your dish – but what are the best alternatives if white miso paste isn’t available?
Here we will explore how to use white miso paste as well as the five best substitutes that can be easily found.
What’s White Miso Paste?
White miso paste is a Japanese ingredient commonly used in soups, sauces, and marinades.
It has a salty, umami flavor and is made with fermented soybeans, rice, and a special type of koji.
The flavor of white miso paste can range from mild and sweet to pungent depending on how it’s made.
White miso paste is an essential ingredient in Japanese cooking because it adds flavor to many dishes, including soup bases like dashi (fish stock).
It can also be used as an accompaniment to vegetables or as a marinade for meat.
White miso paste is especially versatile because its strong flavor complements many ingredients without overpowering them.
When using white miso paste, it’s important to remember that the longer the soaking time in the liquid that you’re using it with (i.e., soup broth), the deeper the flavor of the white miso will be.
Generally speaking, it’s best to keep the soak shorter than twenty minutes to avoid overpowering your dish with too much saltiness.
The best way to tell if your white miso is ready for use is by tasting it — if it tastes mild and sweet, you’ve achieved its full potential of flavor; if it tastes overly salty or bitter, reduce your soak time as necessary or look into different types of miso pastes available on the market such as yellow or red varieties which tend to be less intense-tasting than white varieties.
The 5 BEST Substitutes for White Miso Paste
White miso paste, in particular, is the lightest-colored type of miso paste with a milder taste than its darker counterparts.
If you find yourself without white miso paste but need an immediate substitute for your recipe, use one of these five ingredients instead.
1 – Light Soy Sauce
Light soy sauce, also known as white soy sauce or salt-reduced dark soy sauce, is a good substitute for white miso paste.
You will still get the savory umami flavor you would from miso paste that comes from the use of fermented soya beans, salt and wheat.
However, light soy sauce has a strong salty flavor and will lack the slight sweetness of miso paste.
Therefore, it’s best to use it as more of an accent that is used sparingly.
Use it as an ingredient in Japanese dishes and stir fry sauces or add it to marinades for a richer flavor.
If you want to make this substitution, cut down on the amount of salt used in your recipe when using the light soy sauce.
2 – Yellow Miso
Yellow miso paste is made from fermented soybeans, rice and barley.
The yellow color is due to higher levels of rice in the mix.
The texture and flavor are similar to that of white miso, but with a slightly sweet undertone.
It works especially well in soups and while it might not be as widely available as white miso paste, you should still be able to find it in most Asian markets.
If a recipe calls for white miso paste but you’re out of it, a substitution with yellow miso can add an interesting twist to your dish.
3 – Red Miso
Red Miso is a fermented soybean paste with a deep, earthy flavor that can be used as an umami-rich substitute for white miso paste.
While its flavors are more intense and complex in comparison, red miso still imparts the same salty, mellow flavor and everyone’s favorite umami kick to whatever dish it’s added to.
Red miso typically originates from Japan and is most often used in soups, marinades, dressings and sauces.
To substitute red miso for white miso, simply use half the amount which you would use of the white variety.
The taste and texture of red miso cannot truly be replicated by any other ingredient so it’s worth having around in your pantry.
4 – Tamari
Tamari is a soy-based sauce that has a similar flavor profile to miso paste.
It does contain wheat, so it is not gluten-free like miso, but it’s still an excellent substitute for those who are looking for a gluten-free option.
Tamari has a dark, rich flavor that is slightly more salty than miso paste.
You can find tamari sauce in most grocery stores and some health food stores.
To substitute tamari in a recipe calling for white miso paste, simply use the same amount of tamari as the recipe calls for of white miso paste.
5 – Tahini
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds that has a milder and slightly sweeter flavor than white miso paste.
It can be used in many recipes as an alternative to white miso paste, but is best suited for dishes involving lighter flavors, such as salads and soups.
When substituting tahini for white miso paste, you’ll need to adjust the amount depending on the recipe.
Generally, use about half the amount of tahini as white miso paste called for in the recipe.
And, although it’s not an exact substitute with regards to flavor, it can be used in sauces and marinades to create a similar flavor profile.
White miso paste is one of the most popular ingredients used in East Asian cuisine.
It’s a fermented paste made from soybeans, koji (a type of mold), salt, and sometimes rice or barley.
White miso paste has a sweet, mild flavor that’s the perfect base for introducing a salty and savory flavor to dishes and sauces.
When you can’t find white miso paste or don’t have it on hand, there are several great substitutes you can use to replace it.
All of these have some similar flavors as white miso and will work as versatile additions to your favorite dishes.
You may need to adjust the proportions depending on which substitute you choose but overall these suggest substitutions will be just as satisfying as white miso paste.