Most people associate miso with miso soup. When you tell people they can use miso in just about anything, you might get some strange looks. However, miso paste isn’t just a soup ingredient. Plenty of Japanese meals call for miso in most of their recipes. If you’re not big on Japanese food, you likely never used it. If you’re having trouble looking for it, here’s where you can buy miso paste.

You should start though. It has more uses than Japanese or Asian-inspired meals. It adds a salty, umami flavor to every meal you make. This makes it a great option for vegans and vegetarians who don’t consume meat. Let’s take a look at some of the uses for miso paste!

1. Make Salad Dressings

One of the most surprisingly common uses for miso paste is the salad dressing. While you can use it for any kind of salad, it works best for Asian-inspired salads. It adds a rich but salty flavor on its own but will blend well with whatever you choose to combine it with. The great thing about miso paste is you don’t have to cook it, it’s ready to use right out of the container.

This Japanese -inspired miso dressing mixes in ginger and other Asian ingredients to make a salty, sweet, gingery dressing. Whisk together ¼ cup of miso paste, and ½ teaspoon of fresh or minced ginger (1 teaspoon if using powder). Then, add in 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil, and water to thin it to your liking. Once it’s smooth, it’s ready!

2. More Flavorful Marinades

Before you cook your meat, you often will marinate it in some type of mixture to bring out more flavors and tenderize the meat. Most marinades include oil, citruses, wine, seasonings, or sauces like barbeque or hot sauce. Miso paste is an ideal marinade if you want a salty, savory flavor to your meat. To season your meat with miso paste, follow this simple recipe. In a bowl, whisk brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, Sriracha, miso paste, and cooking oil.

Take the meat of your choice to soak in the marinade for a minimum of 20 minutes but you can marinate for up to one day. Preheat your pan and use a teaspoon of cooking oil. Alternatively, you can grill your meat for an added smokey flavor. Take the chicken out of the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Cook the meat through and serve with rice or a side of your choice.

3. Add to Stir-fry

Stir-fry generally consists of popular Asian ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and fish oil. However, you seldom hear of adding miso paste. A simple stir-fry with chicken and vegetables can become a masterpiece with the added paste.

A simple recipe to follow involves sauteing your vegetables until tender in a wok or large pan. Move your vegetables to the side and add cooking oil and your meat of choice. Cook until it browns and toss everything together. Add the miso paste to the meat and veggies and cook for about 5 minutes. Serve over rice, noodles, or as it is!

4. Enhance Panko Crust

Panko breadcrumbs give you a great crunch to whatever protein or vegetables you’re cooking. Panko doesn’t have any flavor on its own if you buy the plain kind. Instead of using salt, pepper, or Italian seasonings to your panko, try miso paste. For a spicy but sweet breading, mix ginger, maple syrup, butter, and miso paste into a bowl. Then, stir it into your panko and coat the chicken. Bake the chicken in the oven at 400 degrees until cooked.

5. Add to Soup Broths for Umami Flavoring – Especially Ramen

Miso paste is arguably one of the most important ingredients in many traditional ramen recipes. However, you don’t only have to add it to ramen. For example, Miso Lime Veggie Ramen is an easy recipe to make. You sauté your vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli in a Dutch oven before you add aromatics and miso paste. Once it’s fragrant, pour the stock and bring it to a simmer. When everything is tender and cooked, take it off the heat and add lime juice and soy sauce.

You can use it for soups and stews too! Umami flavor generally comes from meat when it releases juices into the broth. If you’re a vegetarian or just don’t want to use meat, miso paste can come in handy. Minestrone benefits from the added miso paste.

Sauté your carrots, onions, and turnips in a Dutch oven until tender. Add garlic, miso, oregano, thyme, and the whites from green onion and sauté until fragrant. Add your stock, bay leaves, and tomatoes to a pan and simmer. Remove the lid and stir in cooked barley and beans. When mixed and warmed thoroughly, add lemon juice and salt and pepper. Don’t forget to remove your bay leaves!

Final Thoughts

Miso paste isn’t only a soup or Asian food ingredient. Many recipes can benefit from the added flavor and health benefits of miso. Vegans and vegetarians that need an umami flavor but can’t use meat will benefit from having miso paste in their refrigerator. Those that just want to experiment with new flavors and ingredients can start with miso. The dishes we covered are only a fraction of all the uses miso paste has to offer. Head to the store and get to experimenting!

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