Niku miso recipe | A must-try Japanese food for the whole family

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  March 26, 2021
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You’ve probably heard of miso soup, but did you know that you can make a delicious meaty miso sauce that you can use as a versatile side dish?

On those days when you want to whip up something quickly, you can make niku miso easily, and it goes well with all kinds of main dishes.

Niku miso is the ultimate all-purpose miso meat sauce. It’s a great versatile side dish that you can use as a dipping sauce, rice topping, wrap filling, mix with noodles, and meal prep.

Niku miso recipe

It’s made with ground meat, miso paste, spring onions, and various Japanese condiments and seasonings, including mirin, sake, and soy sauce.

Niku miso has a savory flavor, and thick texture, with hints of funky fermented taste.

I’m sharing a tasty ground pork niku miso that you can add to any food or enjoy with your favorite rice and noodle dishes.

What is niku miso?

In Japanese food terminology, small, versatile side dishes are called Gohan no Okazu” (ご飯のおかず).

They are used as toppings, dipping sauces, fillings, and flavoring condiments for more bland foods or vegetables. Niku miso is one of these all-purpose foods.

Niku means meat, and miso is fermented soybean paste. Thus it’s a mixture of ground meat and miso although it’s much thicker than your average paste or sauce.

You can make niku miso with all kinds of ground meats, including:

Niku miso adds a savory-sweet flavor, and you can really change up the flavors depending on what type of miso you use and which other condiments you season it with.

Most Japanese associate niku miso with “umami” flavor, although the taste is quite complex as a result of the meat.

To make this meaty miso, you just cook ground meat, mix it with miso paste and other seasonings and add some vegetables.

Depending on what type of miso you use, you can add a different flavor profile to the meat. Most people prefer to use white/yellow miso because it adds a savory and sweet taste. Sweet mirin balances out the saltiness of miso.

Niku miso recipe

Ground pork niku miso recipe

Joost Nusselder
I want the sauce to be a bit creamier than regular niku miso. Therefore, we’re adding a bit of egg yolk. You can use white/yellow miso, but I want a stronger flavor, so I’m using a bit of red miso too. Instead of 2 tbsp red miso, you can also use ½ cup of awase miso or add 1 tbsp of black miso.
0 from 0 votes
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup yellow/white miso
  • 2 tbsp red miso
  • 150 grams ground pork
  • 1 egg yolk
  • cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp sake
  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 scallions minced, use the white part of the onions only
  • 60 grams shiitake mushrooms minced
  • 15 grams ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • In a blender, mix the miso, sugar, egg yolk, sake, soy sauce and mirin, until it’s has a smooth consistency.
  • Heat up a pan, add the oil, and cook the scallion, mushrooms, and ginger until they start to brown and caramelize.
  • Add the ground pork and mix well as it cooks.
  • Once the pork is brown and cooked, add in the miso mixture and turn the heat to low. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes thick.
  • Let it bubble for a couple of minutes, and then stir in the sesame seeds. Mix and remove from the stove.
  • Now the niku miso is ready to serve.
Keyword Meat, Miso
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How to serve niku miso

What I love about niku miso is that it’s so versatile; you can eat it with pretty much anything.

Although it’s technically considered a side dish for steamed rice, you don’t have to limit yourself to serve it like that.

Here’s how to use niku miso:

Put the niku miso sauce in a bowl on the table and let everyone take a serving, or have small bowls of this sauce beside each plate/bowl if you serve it as a side dish.

Since niku miso contains meat (in this recipe), you can always use it as a topping for steamed, boiled, sauteed, or grilled vegetables.

Niku miso: nutritional information

Niku miso is healthy because the meat is mixed with miso paste, which is very beneficial for the digestive system.

Generally, fermented foods are a great source of good gut bacteria which help maintain a healthy gut and aid digestion.

Pork is a good source of protein, iron, and zinc, and minerals, which help the body function properly.

Niku miso has approximately 335 calories and 0.9 g of sodium.

If you use lean beef, lean turkey, or even chicken, the dish is slightly healthier than pork. As well, if you want to reduce sodium, don’t use red or black miso paste, and stick to white.

Niku miso recipe variations

Meats & tofu

This recipe very changeable because you can use different meats and various types of miso.

Although I shared a ground pork miso sauce, you can use chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, or even ground tofu if you want to make it vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

Looking for a more vegan-friendly Japanese dish? Try this teriyaki tofu recipe, just as flavorful as niku miso.

Miso paste

The most common type of miso is Shiro miso (white or yellow miso). These are basically the same but in the US, yellow miso is often labeled as white. This is a mild and sweet flavored miso.

Awase miso – a mix between red and white miso. It has a bit of stronger flavor, and it is saltier. It’s my favorite type of miso for this recipe because the taste is more distinctive and pairs well with pork.

Aka miso – red miso which is fermented for a long time, thus it’s strong and pungent. If you use this for niku miso, use it sparingly because it’s going to make the niku very salty and perhaps overly pungent.

Shinshu miso – this is the real “yellow” miso and it’s less pungent than red or black miso but saltier than white. It is a good option for niku miso, especially if you want to use it to flavor plain, bland steam rice.

Hatcho miso – this is the ideal red miso you can use for this recipe in combination with white miso. It is pure, traditional miso made with only three ingredients: soybeans, salt, and water, and it’s fermented for a long time.

Also read: Can I use red or brown instead of white miso paste? [How to substitute]

Aromatic vegetables and condiments

The most common vegetables and condiments for this recipe include:

If you want to make the dish healthier, you can always mince up vegetables like eggplant and zucchini and add them to the dish.

It adds extra veggie servings and kids wouldn’t even realize they’re eating vegetables because the meaty flavor overpowers them.

The bottom line

Next time you’re looking for ways to add more flavor to your rice and noodle dishes, consider this tasty meaty paste.

You can always use it for meal prepping and then add it to meals, sandwiches and use it as dipping sauce throughout the week.

Since it’s quick, easy, and cheap to make, niku miso is one of those must-try Japanese foods the whole family is sure to enjoy.

Read next: 43 of the best, most delicious & unusual Asian food to Try

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.