Umami-packed miso is perfect for soup, yes. But it also brings its distinctive flavor to all kinds of chef creations. Give it a prime spot in your cooking too.

By Marnie Soman Schwartz
Updated: December 24, 2017
Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

Miso is the new go-to for imparting indulgent richness into dishes. "The fermented soybean paste gives salty, sweet, and savory notes to all kinds of food," says Mina Newman, Chopped winner and executive chef at Sen Sakana in New York City. "I use red miso to build on a nutty, caramel-like flavor and white miso as a salty, umami-filled base," she says. Plus, the paste packs a healthy hit of probiotics too. Though some specialty markets carry a broad range, there are three main variations of miso you'll want to begin experimenting with: red, yellow, and white. Start with these out-of-the-box ideas from Newman.

Give your cheese sauce impact.

Add some miso to a pot with mozzarella, goat, or cheddar cheese and slowly melt together until you get the right texture. Thin the sauce with white wine for a drizzle for vegetables, or keep it thick for dipping.

Add a salty crunch.

Sprinkle Lucky Rabbit Snacks Curry Miso Matcha granola on soup or salad, stir the spicy blend into yogurt, or eat it by the handful.

Spike salad dressing with a funky kick.

Combine champagne vinegar, a dollop of miso, and chopped shallots, then whisk in some Spanish olive oil. (Or add miso to your smoothie for a sweet and salty pick-me-up.)

Throw together a meal.

Keep Simple Truth's Red Miso Braised Beef frozen meals (available at Kroger) in your freezer for a quick, healthy dinner on busy nights. It's free from preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Make a fragrant soup.

Whisk white and red miso together with store-bought dashi (a fish and seaweed stock) and bring to a simmer; add vegetables like carrots, corn, potatoes, and daikon. Drop in some cubed tofu or chopped cooked pork loin if you'd like, and finish with spicy sesame oil and cilantro.

Take your meat dish to another level.

Stonewall Kitchen's Organic Honey Miso Barbecue Sauce combines honey, miso, sesame oil, and mustard for the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and savory. Try it on chicken or beef.

Step up your sides.

Urbane Grain's Whole Grain Quinoa Blend in Miso with Edamame and Scallions is the perfect side for fish or tofu. (These green beans with miso dressing and almonds also add to any meal.)

Infuse salmon with deeper flavor.

Slather the fish with miso paste, and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, wipe off the paste, then sear or grill the fish. (Make this miso-glazed salmon and bok choy when you didn't plan ahead and marinate your fish.)

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