Miso and soybean paste are both fermented bean pastes that are commonly used in Asian cuisine. However, many people wonder if they are the same thing.
While they may seem similar, there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between miso and soybean paste, as well as some common substitutes for miso paste.
Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting to experiment with Asian flavors, this article will help you understand the nuances of these two popular ingredients.
So let’s dive in and explore the world of miso and soybean paste!
Is Miso And Soybean Paste The Same?
Miso paste and soybean paste are not the same thing. While they are both fermented bean pastes, miso paste is made from fermented soybeans, salt, and a specific fungus called koji starter. Sometimes grains like barley or rye are added to the mix as well.
Soybean paste, on the other hand, is made from fermented soybeans and salt. It is commonly used as a seasoning in stews, soups, and dipping sauces.
One of the key differences between miso paste and soybean paste is their taste. Miso paste has a slightly sweeter taste than soybean paste due to the addition of koji starter. Additionally, miso paste comes in a variety of colors including white, red, yellow, and brown. The darker the miso, the stronger the flavor.
If you’re gluten-free, it’s important to read the ingredient label on miso paste to ensure there are no added grains. Some brands like Miso Master offer organic and gluten-free options.
What Is Miso?
Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is popular in Japanese cuisine. It is made by mixing soybeans with salt, koji (a specific moldy rice used for a variety of Japanese culinary purposes), and sometimes beans, chickpeas, or other grains. This mixture ferments for anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on how well developed you want the flavor to be.
Miso paste is known for being salty, a little tangy, and full of strong umami flavor. It has become increasingly popular in vegetarian and vegan dishes due to its versatility and ability to add depth of flavor. Most recipes call for no more than a couple tablespoons of miso paste due to its potency.
There are different types of miso paste available in the market 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 taste and texture. White miso paste is milder in flavor and is often used as a general-purpose ingredient in a variety of recipes.
Miso paste can last up to a year in the refrigerator as long as it stays covered. It is readily available in Japanese grocery stores and gourmet food stores for between $5 and $10. Miso paste has become so much more than just an ingredient in soup. It can be used to make dips, marinades, glazes, and condiments, adding depth and complexity to any dish.
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, soybean paste does not use grains like barley or rye as a fermentation starter. Instead, it goes through three fermentation processes to achieve its finished paste.
Soybean paste has a more pungent smell and stronger taste than miso paste. It is commonly used as a seasoning in stews, soups, and dipping sauces. However, if you’re looking to use soybean paste as a substitute for miso paste in a recipe, it’s important to note that it is quite salty. It’s recommended to start with a small amount and add more as needed.
While both miso paste and soybean paste are fermented bean pastes, they have different flavors and uses in cooking. Soybean paste is an essential ingredient in Korean cuisine and is often used in traditional dishes like doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew).
Flavor Profiles Of Miso And Soybean Paste
Miso paste and soybean paste have distinct flavor profiles. Miso paste has a complex flavor that is salty, tangy, and savory. The taste of miso paste varies depending on the type of koji starter used, the amount of salt added, and the duration of fermentation. Lighter miso varieties tend to have more sweetness, while darker ones have a stronger, more pungent flavor.
Soybean paste, on the other hand, has a simpler flavor profile that is predominantly salty. It lacks the complexity and depth of flavor found in miso paste.
When it comes to cooking, miso paste is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes such as soups, sauces, dressings, marinades, and pickling vegetables and meats. It can also be used as a condiment to add flavor to bowls of vegetables, rice or noodles. Soybean paste is commonly used in Korean cuisine as a seasoning for stews, soups, and dipping sauces.
Culinary Uses Of Miso And Soybean Paste
Miso paste and soybean paste are versatile ingredients that can be used in a variety of culinary applications. Miso paste is commonly used in Japanese cuisine, particularly in miso soup, while soybean paste is a staple in Korean cuisine.
Miso paste can be used to add depth of flavor to dishes like salad dressings, marinades, and pickles. It can also be mixed into sauces, batters, and soups. When using miso paste in long-cooked dishes, it’s best to add it at the end of cooking to preserve the active bacteria in the miso. Miso paste can also be used as a glaze for fish, chicken, and vegetables.
Soybean paste is commonly used as a seasoning in stews, soups, and dipping sauces. It can also be used as a marinade for meat and seafood. In Korean cuisine, soybean paste is often used to make doenjang jjigae, a hearty stew made with vegetables and tofu.
When using miso or soybean paste in cooking, it’s important not to boil the paste as it can damage the aromatic qualities and nutritional benefits. Instead, add the paste at the final stage of cooking over a gentle simmer or heat with turned off.
Common Substitutes For Miso Paste
If you run out of miso paste or are unable to consume it due to dietary restrictions, there are several common substitutes you can use in your recipes. One of the most popular substitutes is soy sauce, which is a thin liquid made from fermented soybeans. Soy sauce has a similar salty and umami flavor to miso paste, but it lacks the creamy texture and consistency. To use soy sauce as a substitute, start with half the amount of soy sauce for the amount of miso paste called for in the recipe.
Another substitute for miso paste is soybean paste, which is also a fermented bean paste made from soybeans and salt. However, it is important to note that soybean paste is quite salty and has a different flavor profile than miso paste. If using soybean paste as a substitute, start with a small amount and add more as needed.
For those who are gluten-free or paleo, tamari or coconut aminos can also be used as substitutes for miso paste. Tamari is a gluten-free soy sauce alternative, while coconut aminos are both gluten-free and soy-free. Both options have a similar flavor profile to miso paste but lack the creamy texture.
It’s important to keep in mind that while these substitutes can work well in many recipes, they may not be suitable for all dishes that specifically require miso paste for its unique flavor and texture. Experiment with different substitutes to find what works best for you and your dietary needs.