Miso and soybean paste are both popular fermented bean pastes used in a variety of dishes. However, many people wonder if they are the same thing.
While they share some similarities, such as being made from soybeans and salt, there are key differences between the two.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between miso and soybean paste, including their flavor profiles, ingredients, and uses in cooking.
Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, understanding the differences between these two pastes can help you create delicious and authentic Japanese and Korean dishes.
So let’s dive in and explore the world of miso and soybean paste!
Is Miso And Soy Bean Paste The Same Thing?
Miso and soybean paste are not the same thing. While they are both made from fermented soybeans, there are several differences between the two.
One of the main differences is the addition of koji starter in miso paste. This fungus adds a touch of sweetness to the paste, giving it a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from soybean paste.
Another difference is the addition of grains in miso paste. While soybean paste typically only contains soybeans and salt, miso paste can also include grains such as barley or rye. This can affect the texture and flavor of the paste.
It’s important to note that miso paste can also come in different varieties, such as white, red, yellow, and brown miso. Each type has a slightly different flavor profile, with darker miso pastes having a stronger taste.
On the other hand, soybean paste is typically quite salty and has a more pungent smell and taste than miso paste. It also does not use grains as a fermentation starter.
What Is Miso?
Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is popular in Japanese cuisine. The paste is made by mixing soybeans with salt, koji (a specific moldy rice used for a variety of Japanese culinary purposes), and sometimes grains such as barley or rye. This mixture ferments for anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on how well developed the flavor is desired to be. The fermentation process gives miso its signature salty, tangy, and strong umami flavor.
Miso paste can come in different varieties, including white miso paste (also known as ‘shiro miso’), red miso paste, yellow miso paste, and brown miso paste. Each type has a slightly different flavor profile, with darker miso pastes having a stronger taste.
Miso is not just limited to being used in Japanese cuisine. It is becoming increasingly popular in vegetarian and vegan dishes, and can be used in a variety of recipes such as roasted eggplant dip, vinaigrettes, glazes, and even transformed into traditional French recipes like Pâte à Choux into Miso gougères.
Due to the fermentation process, miso has an extended shelf life and can last in the refrigerator for up to a year if stored properly. Miso paste is readily available in Japanese grocery stores and gourmet food stores for between $5 and $10.
What Is Soybean Paste?
Soybean paste, also known as Korean doenjang or Chinese doujiang, is a fermented bean paste made from soybeans and salt. Unlike miso paste, it does not use grains as a fermentation starter. Soybean paste has a stronger taste and pungent smell compared to miso paste, and is commonly used as a seasoning in stews, soups, and dipping sauces. While it can be used as a substitute for miso paste in many dishes, it is important to note that it is quite salty and should be used in small amounts. Soybean paste also goes through three fermentation processes to achieve its finished paste, whereas miso paste typically ferments for a few weeks to a few years. Despite the differences between the two, both miso and soybean paste are popular fermented bean pastes used in various cuisines around the world.
Ingredients Used In Miso And Soybean Paste
The ingredients used in miso and soybean paste are similar, but there are some key differences. Both pastes are made from fermented soybeans, but miso paste includes additional ingredients that give it a unique flavor and texture.
The basic ingredients for miso paste include soybeans, salt, and koji. Koji is a type of fungus that is cultivated on rice or other grains and is used as a starter for the fermentation process. The type of koji used and the length of fermentation can result in different varieties of miso paste.
In addition to these basic ingredients, miso paste can also include grains such as barley or rye. These grains are used as a fermentation starter and can affect the texture and flavor of the paste. Some varieties of miso paste may also include other ingredients such as seaweed or other vegetables for added flavor.
Soybean paste, on the other hand, typically only contains soybeans and salt. It does not use grains as a fermentation starter and has a more pungent smell and taste than miso paste.
Flavor Profiles Of Miso And Soybean Paste
Miso paste has a complex flavor profile that can be described as salty, tangy, savory, and even sweet. The addition of koji starter gives miso paste a touch of sweetness that sets it apart from soybean paste. The flavor of miso paste also varies depending on the type of miso, with lighter varieties having a milder and more delicate flavor, while darker miso pastes have a stronger taste.
Soybean paste, on the other hand, is typically quite salty and has a more pungent smell and taste than miso paste. It does not use grains as a fermentation starter, which gives it a different texture and flavor profile compared to miso paste.
When it comes to using these ingredients in cooking, miso paste’s versatility shines through. It can be added to sauces, dressings, marinades, pickling vegetables and meats, or used as a condiment. Miso paste can also be added to bowls of vegetables, rice or noodles to complement their flavors.
Soybean paste is commonly used in Korean cuisine as a base for stews and soups. It can also be used as a seasoning for stir-fries or as a marinade for meats.
Uses Of Miso And Soybean Paste In Cooking
Miso paste and soybean paste are both versatile ingredients in cooking, but they have their own unique uses.
Miso paste is commonly used in Japanese cuisine, particularly in miso soup. However, it can also be used as a seasoning in a variety of dishes, such as marinades, dressings, and sauces. Its sweet and salty flavor profile makes it a great addition to dishes like roasted vegetables, stir-fries, and even desserts.
White miso paste is particularly versatile and can be used in a wide range of recipes due to its mild flavor. It can be used as a base for dips and spreads, such as Miso eggplant dip or Miso roasted radish dip. It can also be used as a marinade for meats or tofu, or whisked into salad dressings for added depth of flavor.
Soybean paste, on the other hand, is commonly used in Korean cuisine. It’s often used as a seasoning for stews, soups, and dipping sauces. It has a strong umami flavor that pairs well with meat and vegetables.
Soybean paste can also be used as a substitute for miso paste in certain recipes. However, it’s important to note that soybean paste is typically saltier than miso paste, so it’s best to start with a small amount and adjust accordingly.
How To Choose Between Miso And Soybean Paste
When choosing between miso and soybean paste, it’s important to consider the flavor and texture you want to achieve in your dish. Miso paste is a great option if you want a milder, sweeter flavor, while soybean paste is better if you want a stronger, saltier taste.
If you are gluten-free, it’s important to check the ingredient label of miso paste to ensure there are no added grains. Some miso pastes do contain barley or rye, which may not be suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.
It’s also worth noting that miso paste comes in different varieties, each with its own unique flavor profile. White miso paste, also known as ‘shiro miso’, is a good all-purpose option due to its milder flavor and versatility in a variety of recipes.
Soybean paste can be used as a substitute for miso paste in many dishes, but keep in mind that it is quite salty. Start with a small amount and add more as needed.
Ultimately, the choice between miso and soybean paste depends on personal preference and the specific dish you are making. Experiment with both to find which one works best for you and your taste buds.