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Miso paste colors and flavors

Can someone explain the difference in the "color" of miso paste to me? I was looking to try cooking with it and didn't know if the red miso paste was different in flavor profile from the white miso paste. Is one more mild perhaps? Then again..considering I've never cooked with it, I don't suppose I would know regardless!

asked by skittle almost 6 years ago
2 answers 4639 views
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Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added almost 6 years ago

There are three basic varieties of miso: rice, barley and pure soybean. Within each of these varieties are several types labeled according to flavor and color. As a general rule, lighter misos are sweeter and younger and contain less salt; darker misos are thicker and saltier and have been aged longer. Rice miso, or kome miso, begins with sweet white (shiro miso) and progresses along the color-age spectrum to mellow white (shiro koji miso) to light yellow (shinshu miso) to sweet red (edo miso) to red (aka miso).

Barley miso, or mugi miso, is aged longer than most rice misos and has just two varieties, mellow barley and regular barley. Pure soybean miso is most commonly found in the form of the highly esteemed hatcho miso, which is aged for two to three years to develop its distinctively deep sweetness and sharp flavor. Other special varieties are available, including namemisos, or finger-lickin' misos, and recent Western inventions, like chickpea miso, an American creation, and lentil miso, developed in the Netherlands.

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added almost 6 years ago

And the Koreans do some tasty aged chilli/miso pastes.


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