Every time I need something quick and easy for lunch, I usually end up making a simple soup, like this Tofu & Mushroom soup recipe. It’s simple to make, it’s filling and it tastes delicious.
The problem is that I don’t always have all the ingredients, so I end up improvising. One ingredient that I seems to be always out is miso paste, so over the years, I’ve learned how to replace it in my cooking to make sure the dish still tastes amazing.
What is miso paste?
If you ever tasted miso paste on its own, you’d realise that it’s a very concentrated, a salty ingredient with a ton of flavour. The idea is that you use a little bit to make up a whole soup or other dish and it complements other ingredients.
It’s made from soya beans, so if you are sensitive to soya you might find it difficult to digest and might be looking for an alternative anyway.
RECIPES USING MISO PASTE
Can I make miso paste at home?
If you are into experimenting in the kitchen, you might be wondering, whether it’s possible to make your own miso paste substitute if you run out of the shop bought one.
Whilst it’s not impossible, I’d recommend to simply substitute miso paste with something from the list below to work well with your recipe. This is going to be quicker and cheaper too.
Miso paste is traditionally made from soya beans mixed with salt and natural mould bacteria called ‘koji’ and then left to ferment over a period of a very long time. Some companies also add various grains to improve or change the miso paste flavour. This can include for example rice, rye or barley, which is what gives miso paste it’s earthy taste.
The fermentation process can take anything from several months to several years, which is why I said, that making a miso paste at home (if you’ve just find out that you need it to make your soup) is a no go!
MY FAVOURITE MISO PASTE SUBSTITUTES
One thing that often saves me from having to use basic substitutions for miso paste is using a miso powder instead. I usually keep some in the kitchen cupboard, because the shelf life is much longer than the paste.
To make miso powder into a miso paste, use the same amount of powder with the same amount of water and mix it. For example – mix one teaspoon of miso powder with one teaspoon of water. This should be enough for one portion of soup, but add more if needed.
Salt is one ingredient that I’m sure you’ll have at home if you suddenly run out of miso paste. Sea salts, smoked sea salts or other flavoured salts are a perfect replacement for miso paste if your recipe only calls for a small amount of miso paste.
I love the different flavours you can achieve with salts – like charcoal salt, himalayan salt or herb infused salts.
Using a basic table salt is absolutely fine too.
To replace the miso paste in the recipe with salt, simply add a pinch of your favourite salt, taste and add more if needed.
Soy sauce is fairly intense in flavour like miso paste, but it contains more salt. To replace the miso paste in your recipe with soy sauce add half the amount, taste and then add more if needed.
Don’t add any salt before you add your soy sauce. It might be easier to add more soy sauce and benefit from the extra flavour (whilst adding salt at the same time).
Tahini comes in different versions. The darker tahini has more robust flavour, but the light one is fine to use to. Tahini is made from sesame seeds and has much milder taste than miso paste. You might need extra salt with your dish, but taste it first to see if that’s the case.
I really like Tahini as a miso paste substitute, but you might like to add extra flavour with something like soy sauce, extra salt or anchovies paste as on it’s own it can be quite bland.
Vegetable or Meat Stock Cubes
Depending on what you are cooking, you can use crumbled vegetable of meat based stock cubes to add flavour to your dishes.
The stock cubes include some salt, so ease off on adding extra salt until you taste your dish.
This is another option, if you have it in your kitchen cupbard. Only use it for meat based fish dishes or vetetable dishes (where people don’t mind the meat ingredients in the fish sauce) and don’t use it for chicken/beef/lamb/ type of dishes. The flavour combination of fish sauce and say chicken is a tad strange to say the least!
Bowril is a beef based extract, which might not suit to everyone, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Bowril comes in a thick paste, which can be easily diluted in water. It’s salty and dark in colour and it can be used instead of miso paste in meat based dishes.
I think, marmite has a very similar flavour to miso paste and since it’s yeast based, it’s also suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. It’s quite salty, so again add it first before you add any extra salt or flavourings.
Similar to soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce is full of flavour and it has a salty flavour. It’s a fermented sauce made from barley malt vinegar, molasses sugars, salt, onions, tamarind extract and other flavoursome ingredients. It also contains anchovies, so it’s not suitable for vegan or vegetarian diets.
Homemade Miso Paste Substitute
Whilst adding one or two ingredients from the previous list might be sufficient to replace miso paste in your recipe, you can also make a quick and simple miso paste substitute at home.
For next time, when you run out of miso paste, you can be ready by making your own replacement.
Homemade Miso Paste Recipe
- Soya Beans or other beans (cooked from the tin)
- Dark Molasses Sugar (or dark sugar, honey, date syrup or agave)
- Marmite or Vegemite or Soy Sauce
Proportions will depend on how much of miso paste you need. To get about 1/3 cups of miso soup, you will need 1/2 cup of beans, 3 teaspoons of dark molases and 3 teaspoons of Marmite and 1 teaspoon of salt (can be more, depending on your taste buds)
To make the miso replacement, simply put everything in a food processor or a blender and blend everything until smooth. Taste and add more marmite, soy sauce or salt to adjust the flavour. You should get a rich, strong taste.
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 2-3 weeks or so.
Homemade Miso Paste Substitute
- Blender or food processor
- 1/2 cup soy beans cooked or from a tin (can be replaced by any beans)
- 3 teaspoons Marmite or Vegemite
- 3 teaspoons dark liquid molases sugar or honey, agave syrup or date or carob syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon fine cooking salt add more depending on your taste buds
- To make the miso replacement, simply put everything in a food processor or a blender and blend everything until smooth.
- Taste and add more marmite, soy sauce or salt to adjust the flavour. You should get a rich, strong taste.
- Keep in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 2-3 weeks or so.