After Miso Soup, Other Ideas for Miso Paste

Miso paste and butter.

While I bow to the curative powers of chicken soup, I prefer miso soup to help me through times of trouble. The salty, savory taste — with or without the addition of tofu and greens — makes even the worst day seem much better. It’s so easy make miso soup, and I keep a tub of miso paste handy for just that reason.

(Plus the miso soups you get in most restaurants are not gluten free, so making it yourself is the safest bet.)

But miso is more than soup. It’s a perfect gluten-free ingredient in lots of other dishes. The hardest part is getting your hands on gluten-free miso paste. My local Asian grocery store stocks a few brands, so I keep it on hand.

  • Miso Butter: Miso butter is super-easy to make. It’s great on meats and fish, but for a special flavor treat, slather it on freshly grilled corn. The basic recipe is four tablespoons butter and one tablespoon miso. Mix together, adjust flavors to taste.
  • Miso Carrot or Butternut Squash Soup: For some reason, the carrot and butternut squash seasons run very long in my area, so I’m always looking for ideas to use these veggies up. Soup is, of course, a no-brainer. Adding a bit of miso and ginger to either of these soups amps up the flavor (don’t add any extra salt…trust me on this!). Here’s a basic recipe at Smitten Kitchen.
  • Miso Glaze: Combine two tablespoons of miso paste, two tablespoons of honey, a clove or two of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons canola or other light oil, a few splashes of sesame oil, and about 3/4 cup of water in a small pan. Heat until reduced by half. Brush the glaze over salmon, pork, or chicken (heck, try it on baked tofu!) before grilling or baking.
  • Basic Miso Marinade: This is a great marinade for fish. Combine a quarter cup of mirin, 4 – 5 tablespoons miso paste, three tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 cup water or sake in a small pan. Heat until the miso has liquified and the sugar has dissolved. Coat your fish generously with the marinade.
  • Miso-Ginger Marinade: I love this with chicken. Combine about three tablespoons of miso with grated ginger (about a 2-inch piece), 4 or so cloves of minced garlic, some lemon zest, two tablespoons canola oil, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a few splashes of rice vinegar, and, if you like a bit of kick, some chili sauce or paste. Coat your chicken with the marinade — if you have time to let it sit overnight in a refrigerator, go for it! — and bake the chicken as your normally would. So, so good.
  • Miso Potato Salad: Okay, you know you want to try this! I’m a huge fan of potato salads made with a good mustard vinaigrette, but the thought of potatoes soaking up that delicious miso flavor? My mouth is watering even as I type these words. Recipe here at The Kitchn.
  • Ramen Broth: Lotus Foods makes an amazing gluten-free ramen with a miso-based broth  You can also make it yourself if you get your hands on GF ramen. Or just use rice noodles.
  • Miso Salad Dressing: Have I mentioned that once you go homemade salad dressing, you’ll never use store-bought again? (Yes, Kassia, you rarely go a week without mentioning this.) My favorite recipe combines miso, sesame oil, and a bit of citrus for an addictive salad dressing. Tahini is also a great foil for miso in salad dressings.

Tip of the Week

No matter how you use miso paste, it already has lots of salty, savory flavor. Taste any recipes made using miso for flavor before salting or adding other ingredients.

Menu of the Week

We eat a lot of salmon around our house — it’s a great fish for grilling, something we do about 10 months out of the year. Adding a miso glaze enhances the flavor. Green tea rice is fairly easy to make: simply steep 3 tablespoons loose green tea with a bit of salt in two cups of water. Pour the tea over hot steamed rice and garnish with green onions. Go light on the tamari (or gluten-free soy sauce) when adding flavor to the spinach.

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