Japanese Miso, 味噌 (みそ), is probably the most iconic ingredient in Japanese cooking.! It is made from fermented soybeans, salt, koji (a kind of fungus) and sometimes grains (like rice or barley) and other ingredients.
There is a wide range of miso in Japan. The difference of miso depends on the length of the fermentation and the ratio of soybeans used with other ingredients. In general, the darker the miso, the saltier it is. Miso is categorized by many criteria, such as color, ingredients, taste, and even regions.
- Shiro-miso/White Miso 白味噌: Made with 40% soybean and 60% grains. A shorter period of fermentation length results in a lighter color and less salty taste than the red miso.
- Aka-miso/Red Miso 赤味噌: Made with 70% soybean and 30% grains. Fermentation period is long, therefore color is dark and taste is strong and salty.
- Awase-miso/Mixed Miso 合わせ味噌: It is a combination of white and red miso.
- Miso which is categorized by ingredients to name a few: Kome-miso/Rice Miso 米味噌 (the most popular type of miso), Mugi-miso/Barley Miso 麦味噌, Mame-miso/Soybean Miso 豆味噌.