Miso powder vs. miso paste | When and how to use each
If you’re looking to make a miso-based recipe and don’t have miso paste on hand, you might consider miso powder instead. But can you just substitute it? And how much to use?
Miso paste gives a smooth thickness to dishes you cannot get from powder. It’s the traditional way of cooking Japanese dishes, but the powder can last up to 3 years when opened instead of 3 months. Use 2 teaspoons of miso powder instead of 1 tablespoon of paste.
In this article, I’ll review both miso products and show you how you can use each in your recipes.
The powder has a similar flavor profile to the paste, but some prefer it because it lasts longer and is more versatile.
On the other hand, some prefer the paste because it’s fresher and comes out smoother when mixed.
In this post we'll cover:
What is miso paste?
Miso paste is a Japanese spice and you can make it by fermenting soybeans. The fermentation process uses salt and koji and things like barley, rice, and even seaweed are sometimes used. But this depends on the brand.
The result is a thick paste that can be used for spreads and sauces. It’s also often mixed with dashi to make miso soup.
Miso is a favorite due to its rich umami taste and its nutritional value.
It’s high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Because it’s fermented, it works as a probiotic and is beneficial to digestive health.
Don’t confuse miso paste with soybean paste though. We explain the difference between those 2 here in Miso vs soybean paste (doenjang): 3 odd ways to tell the difference
What is miso powder?
Miso powder is a powdered form of miso.
Most buy it in the store as is, but you can also make it at home.
Baked miso powder recipe
- ¼ cup miso paste preferably yellow miso, or red for a sronger flav
- We're going to make the miso paste into a powder, so that means baking it on low heat for a long time. Set the oven to 180 degrees Fahrenheit and let it warm up.
- Next, spread the miso paste out onto a baking sheet or parchment and lay it out on a baking tray.
- Bake it until you can easily take it off from the paper. This is usually after an hour or so.
- Fold the sheet of miso over and bake it for another hour.
- After around 2 hours in total, it should be crisp enough for you to grab a food processor or spice grinder and pulverize the pieces into a powder.
This process makes it easy to use miso as a spice.
It can be used instead of sauce to enhance the flavor of meats, vegetables, pasta, soup, chili, whole grains, and more.
Check out this video by Modernist Pantry to see how miso powder can be used:
Cooking with miso powder
You can also use miso powder as a soup base. However, some chefs say it’s difficult to get a smooth texture.
If you make miso yourself, it may retain some of its nutritional value.
However, the kind you buy at a store is basically devoid of any nutrition. It has trace amounts of protein and is high in sodium.
The dehydration and extra processing can also make the powder taste unnatural.
On the upside, the processing of the powder increases the shelf life of the miso so it can last for years.
Traditional Japanese dishes with miso paste
Miso paste can be used in a wide variety of recipes.
Miso paste is commonly combined with dashi to make miso soup,but here are some other dishes you can use it in:
- Miso honey sweet potato sorbet: This sweet potato-based sorbet really gets a kick from the added miso.
- Miso creamed kale: A great substitute for creamed spinach. The miso takes this side dish to the next level.
- Japanese fried chicken: You can get delicious finger food when you marinate chicken in juice made from ginger, some sake, a bit of soy sauce, and mirin. Then get a miso mayo to take this dish to the next level (Note, miso mayo makes a tasty addition to any sandwich).
- Miso salmon: Miso gives salmon the perfect touch of flavor without overpowering the meat.
- Miso oatmeal cookies: The added flavor the miso provides means these cookies will taste great, even without nuts or raisins.
Read more: Can miso expire? Tips on storage and how to tell.
Traditional Japanese dishes with miso powder
As stated earlier, miso makes a great substitute in any dish you’d normally flavor with salt.
It’s great always to have some at hand. I like this organic miso powder from Marukome.
To make the most of the Japanese flavor, try it in an authentic dish, like salted salmon.
You can also add it to other ground ingredients to make a Japanese-style seasoning. Nori sheets, sesame seeds, tangerine or lemon zest, Sichuan peppercorns, ground ginger, paprika, toasted poppy seeds, and cayenne pepper are examples of ingredients you can mix it with!
Miso paste vs. miso powder: Go for both!
Miso paste and miso powder both make tasty additions to Japanese-style meals. Which will you be adding to your dishes?
Don’t have miso at hand, paste or powder, but a recipe calls for it? Find 5 miso paste substitute options you could add to your dish instead here.
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.