Miso Paste vs. Soybean Paste | Differences & How To Use Both

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 9, 2020

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If you are familiar with Japanese cuisine, you have probably heard of both miso paste and soybean paste.

These are fermented soybean pastes that are very similar in flavor and texture.

However, they are not exactly alike.

Miso paste vs soybean paste

Read on to find out more about both of these ingredients and what they have to offer.

What is Miso Paste?

Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans mixed with salt and koji, a mold used to make sake.

It may also contain barley, rice, and other grains.

The mixture ferments for a long time, anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years.

The longer it ferments, the richer the flavor becomes.

Different types of miso

There are mainly three different types of miso.

They vary according to the amount of time they are left to ferment.

These are as follows:

Most people associate miso paste with miso soup.

When mixed with dashi, it makes a delicious soup that is nutritious and flavorful.

However, the paste can also be added to dishes to provide a rich, umami flavor that is great in dressings and marinades.

It works well with fish and it can even add a unique richness to chocolate and caramel desserts.

No miso paste at hand, but a recipe that calls for it? Read: Miso Paste Substitute | 5 options you could add to your dish instead.

Miso Paste Nutrition

Miso paste is high in vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, vitamins E and K, and folic acid.

Because it is fermented it works as a probiotic with beneficial bacteria that improve gut health which can boost mental and physical wellness.

The fermentation also makes sure miso paste does not expire that quickly.

What is Soybean Paste?

Commonly called doenjang, soybean paste is a fermented bean paste made of soybean and brine.

Soybeans are soaked overnight and then coarsely ground and shaped into a cube. The cubes are cooled and dried.

Once they harden, they are left to ferment for several months.

How to use soybean paste

Soybean paste is commonly used to produce soybean soup and it can also be used as a relish.

It is eaten as a condiment for vegetables and for dipping.

It can also be mixed with garlic and sesame oil to produce ssamjang which is traditionally eaten in leaf vegetables and often serve as a complement for popular Korean meat dishes.

Soybean Paste Nutrition

Because soybean paste is fermented, it is beneficial to the digestive system.

It is also rich in flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and plant hormones which are known for being anti-carcinogenic.

Soybean paste is also rich in the essential amino acid lysine and the fatty acid linoleic acid, which play an important role in the normal growth of blood vessels and the prevention of blood vessel related illness.

Soybean Paste vs. Miso Soup

To sum it all up, here is a list of the main differences between soybean and miso paste.

Soybean Paste

Miso Paste

Recipes with miso paste and soybean paste

Miso Soup Recipe

Miso can be used to make a wide variety of dishes but miso soup is the most common. Here’s how you make this traditional Japanese dish.
Course Soup
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword miso soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or dashi for a more authentic taste)
  • 1 sheet nori (dried seaweed) cut into large rectangles
  • 3-4 tbsp. miso paste
  • ½ cup green chard chopped
  • ½ cup green onion chopped
  • ¼ cup firm tofu cubed

Instructions

  • Place vegetable broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer.
  • While broth is simmering, place miso into a small bowl. Add a little hot water and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  • Add chard, green onion and tofu to soup and cook for five minutes. Add nori and stir.
  • Remove from heat, add miso mixture and stir to combine.
  • Taste and add more miso or a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve warm.

 

Looking for more miso paste inspiration? We also have a great recipe here: Vegan miso soup with noodles: make dashi & miso from scratch.

 

Pork Belly & Soybean Paste Recipe

Let’s see what we can do with soybean paste in this fried pork belly recipe.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword Pork
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 slices pork belly cut into big pieces
  • ½ potato thinly sliced
  • ½ zucchini cut into thin slices
  • ¼ cup white onion chopped into small pieces
  • 2-3 slices ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion chopped for garnishing
  • ¼ tsp. sugar
  • touch of sesame oil

Instructions

  • Pan fry pork belly for 3-4 minutes until brown and crisp. Set aside.
  • Add potato, onion and zucchini into pan. Stir fry 4-5 minutes under medium high heat until soft.
  • Toss in ginger and garlic and pour 1 cup of water into pan and stir to mix well.
  • Once water starts to boil, add soybean paste and sugar and stir to mix well.
  • Turn flame to medium low heat and simmer about 10 minutes with the lid on stirring occasionally.
  • Add pork belly to pan and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and transfer to large serving bowl.
  • Drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with green onion and serve.

Now that you know the difference between soybean paste and miso paste, which will you be adding to your dishes?

 

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.