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.
Read on to find out more about both of these ingredients and what they have to offer.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is Miso Paste?
- 2 What is Soybean Paste?
- 3 Soybean Paste vs. Miso Soup
- 4 Recipes with miso paste and soybean paste
- 5 Miso Soup Recipe
- 6 Pork Belly & Soybean Paste Recipe
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:
- White Miso: White miso is light in color and mild in flavor.
- Red Miso: Red miso is left to ferment a little longer. As a result, it gets salty and develops a richer flavor and color.
- Mixed Miso: Mixed miso is a combination of red and white miso. The two types complement each other perfectly.
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.
- Made of soybeans and saltwater
- Fermented in open air
- Produces a light soy sauce
- Contains a variety of beneficial fungi and bacteria
- Uses a grain base
- Fermentation occurs on the grain first
- An optimal single strain is used under heavy environmental control
- Second stage fermentation occurs without oxygen present
Recipes with miso paste and soybean paste
Miso Soup Recipe
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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?