Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is commonly used in Asian cuisine. Soybean paste is what gives Japanese food its signature flavor known as umami. While it’s a staple in every Asian household, many Americans aren’t familiar with this ingredient. They don’t know how to use it so they don’t buy it.
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Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need A Substitute For White Miso Paste?
- What Is Miso?
- Why Cook With Miso?
- What are the Best Substitutes for White Miso?
- What Is the Best White Miso Substitute for Gluten Free
- What is The Difference Between White, Yellow and Red Miso?
- Is Shiro Miso and White Miso The Same Thing?
- What Does White Miso Taste Like?
- Is Miso Paste Gluten Free?
- What Are Some Recipes That Use Miso?
- Where Can You Find Miso Paste?
It’s getting increasingly common for Westerners to cook Asian themed dishes at home. With so many English speaking bloggers posting delicious drunken noodles, gluten free ramen, homemade sushi, etc. So many Americans are seeing miso paste on the ingredient list. They have no clue what miso is, where to buy it or how to use it in a recipe.
Why Do You Need A Substitute For White Miso Paste?
Most people don’t have white miso paste. So I thought it would be great to show you the best substitutes for miso paste. I use miso paste in lots of recipes. Sometimes you don’t have time to run to the store and you just have to cook with the ingredients you have on hand. Don’t let no miso stop you! You can still make great Asian inspired cuisine with these miso paste substitutes.
What Is Miso?
Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is commonly used in Asian cuisine. Soybean paste is what gives Japanese food its signature flavor known as umami. It has a salty taste and smooth texture.
Why Cook With Miso?
Miso is a great way to add tons of flavor to your cooking. Miso paste works well in sauces, soups, marinades and more. If you’re looking to improve your gut health, then that’s another reason to use this magical bean paste. It’s packed with tons of probiotics and live enzymes. You can literally eat your way to less gas and bloating by using miso paste to flavor your dishes.
What are the Best Substitutes for White Miso?
- Mellow White Miso Paste
- Soy Sauce
- Yellow Miso
- Red Miso
- Fish Sauce
Mellow White Miso Paste By Eastern Sun Foods
So, I don’t know if this technically counts as a substitute for plain white miso. But mellow white miso is the best miso on the planet so it’s worth mentioning. I personally only like to use Mellow White Miso Paste from Eastern Sun because it’s sweet and not sour.
Eastern Sun’s Mellow White Miso Paste gives all of my recipes a sweet, nutty umami flavor without making the food taste overly salty. I use it in my most popular Gluten Free Ramen and Miso Soup. Additionally, mellow white works well in nut cheeses and dressings like this Dairy Free Caesar Dressing.
Yellow Miso Paste
Yellow miso paste is fermented longer than white miso. The longer fermentation period gives yellow miso a slightly more sour taste than the white kind. But it’s still miso so…
Red Miso Paste
Red miso paste is fermented longer than both white and yellow miso so it has the strongest flavor of all the different types of miso. If you are using red miso you should use only 2/3rds of the recommended amount of miso paste because it has a stronger flavor.
Soy sauce is a natural replacement for miso paste. Soy sauce and miso have a similar salty and umami flavor. The biggest difference is that soy sauce has a thinner consistency than miso. Soy sauce is a liquid while miso is a paste. If the consistency of a dish is not an issue you can use soy sauce.
It is the perfect white miso substitute for soups, sauces, dressings and marinades. If the consistency is a problem you can add a little tahini or anchovy paste to thicken up the soy sauce.
What If you are gluten free?
Keep in mind that miso paste is gluten free but soy sauce is not. If you are on a gluten free diet or have celiac disease you need to either buy a gluten free soy sauce or use a different substitute. Tamari is a great gluten free soy sauce substitute that you can use as a white miso replacement.
To most people tamari tastes almost exactly the same as soy sauce, but it’s gluten free. So you can use tamari as a white miso paste substitute in the same way you would use soy sauce.
The only two reasons you would not want to use Tamari is:
- If you need a thicker paste since tamari is runny.
- If you don’t want to darken the dish. Tamari is darker than miso so it will make your food brown.
Consistency and color wise tahini is the best substitute for white miso. You can use tahini in a 1:1 ratio to miso paste. Keep in mind that you will need to add soy sauce, tamari or salt to the tahini to mimic the saltiness of authentic white miso paste.
While tahini provides a similar creamy texture and nutty flavor it isn’t fermented. So tahini lacks the classic salty and umami flavor often associated with miso paste.
Fish sauce is another option you can use to replace white miso. Fish sauce is classically umami and salty. I think it’s best to use fish sauce as a miso substitute for seafood recipes like miso glazed sea bass. Fish sauce has a concentrated flavor so use it in a 0.5:1 ratio replacement for white miso paste.
Is Fish Sauce Gluten Free?
If you’re on a gluten free diet, fish sauce is an option that you can use. Fish sauce goes 50/50. Some of it is gluten free and some brands aren’t. Don’t assume that fish sauce is gluten free. Always check the label for a gluten free sticker.
If you don’t see any gluten free labeling, make sure to read the ingredient list. If you see any ingredients that say wheat you should assume that the fish sauce in question is NOT gluten free.
What Is the Best White Miso Substitute for Gluten Free
I write my blog for lots of people who are on gluten free diets. If you’re reading this then chances are you need a gluten free white miso substitute for one of my recipes.
Honestly, the best white miso paste substitute for gluten free cooking is a mixture of tamari for the flavor and tahini for the consistency.
Mix 1 part Tahini with 2 parts tamari and use it as a 1:1 replacement for any recipe that requires white miso paste.
What is The Difference Between White, Yellow and Red Miso?
The most obvious ingredient substitution for white miso would be yellow or red miso. Believe it or not, there is more than one type of miso paste out there. The three main categories of are, you guessed it, white, yellow and red miso paste.
White miso paste is the one that is fermented for the least amount of time. Yellow is fermented the second longest. Red miso is fermented for the longest amount of time before it’s packaged.
How does fermentation time effect the flavor? When food ferments it gets more sour. So white miso is the sweetest, yellow is the second sweetest and red is the most sour.
I personally only like to use Mellow White Miso Paste from Eastern Sun because it’s sweet and not sour. Sour miso gives my soup a more bitter and salty taste. But if you’re in a pinch you can use yellow or red miso instead of white miso paste.
If you have a choice use yellow instead of red. Yellow miso paste is the best substitute for white miso paste.
Is Shiro Miso and White Miso The Same Thing?
Yes, shiro miso is another name for white miso!
What Does White Miso Taste Like?
Soybean paste is what gives Japanese food its signature flavor known as umami. It has a salty taste and smooth texture.
Is Miso Paste Gluten Free?
Yes! Miso paste is naturally gluten free. Miso is made from soybean paste that is fermented with cultivated mold called koji. Koji is usually derived from rice which is also naturally gluten free. Miso paste is generally considered gluten free and safe to consume for people with celiac disease.
Of course cross contamination is always a possibility. Make sure that the miso is processed in a wheat free environment. Also, avoid cross contamination at home by always using a clean spoon to dip into the miso.
Usually some light cross contamination is no big deal. But if you are sensitive to trace amounts of gluten you need to be extra careful to avoid cross contaminating miso paste with wheat products.
Best Gluten Free Miso Paste Brands
- Miso Masters Mellow White Miso (my favorite)
- Thrive Miso Paste
- Cold Mountain Mellow White Miso Paste
Soy Free Miso Paste Brands
If you’re avoiding soy for any reason, then you can use a non soybean based miso paste. Many people do avoid soy since it’s mucus forming and raises estrogen levels. Although small amounts of fermented soy are beneficial to your health because it’s rich in probiotics. The probiotics found in miso paste help your body digest food better and boost your immune system.
- South River Chickpea Miso
- Essential Organics Raw Chickpea Soy Free Miso Paste
What Are Some Recipes That Use Miso?
Miso is can be used as an ingredient in traditional Japanese cuisine and is sold in Asian grocery stores. This paste has a salty taste similar to soy sauce known as umami taste. The finest quality miso has a slightly sweet taste. But overall miso has a salty taste that lends itself well to savory dishes.
A bit of miso goes a long way to flavor salad dressings, soups, and vegetable dishes. I use mellow white miso in my favorite Japanese miso soup recipe.
- Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing
- Keto and Gluten Free Miso Soup
- Gluten Free and Raw Vegan Caesar Dressing
- Gluten Free Ramen Noodles
- Vegan Pine Nut Ricotta Cheese
- Gluten Free Ravioli Made With Beets
While miso is associated with Japanese cuisine Asian fusion is becoming popular. So as a result tons of Asian cultures are using miso in their food. For more recipes to help you make great Asian inspired cuisine check out my Ramen Noodle Recipe and Miso Soup!
Where Can You Find Miso Paste?
You can find miso paste in the ethnic section of the supermarket. Traditionally, miso is sold in health food markets like Whole Foods. If you don’t live near a health shop you can also easily find miso in an Asian supermarket.
I write on my blog for lots of people who are on gluten free diets. If you’re reading this then chances are you need a gluten free white miso substitute for one of my recipes.
The best white miso paste substitute for gluten free cooking is a mixture of tamari for the flavor and tahini for the consistency. Mix 1 part Tahini with 2 parts tamari and use it as a 1:1 replacement for any recipe that requires white miso.
Yes, there are a bunch of different substitutions you can use for miso paste. Check the post for more details on each of the different substitution options, but here is a list of the best substitutions:
1. Mellow White Miso Paste
2. Soy Sauce
3. Yellow Miso
4. Red Miso
7. Fish Sauce
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