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Food Percentage of DRI per 100 grams
vitamin K
omega-3 fats
vitamin B2

MISO paste is a staple in the Alchemy kitchen. It´s a useful ingredient when it comes to creating savory dishes with a rich and flavorful umami taste. We use it in broths, stocks, soups and sauces instead of MSG-containing bullion products. It is also a great replacement for broth made with animal bones. It’s gloriously simple too, just mix with warm water and you’re sorted! Miso is a Japanese word that means "fermented beans." Traditionally it is made by fermenting cooked soy beans with micro-organisms such as fungus Aspergillus(Kojiin Japanese), salt and often a grain such as rice or barley. The paste is then aged between a few months up to a few years. 


Algae, almonds, amaranth, apples, apple cider vinegar, arrugula, asparagus, avocado, balsamic vinegar, basil, beans, beetroots, bok choy, buckwheat, Bragg’s aminos, brazil nuts, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cashews, carrots, chickpeas, chili, chives, cilantro, coconut aminos, coconut cream, coconut flakes, coconut nectar, corn, cucumber, daikon, dates, dill, dulse, edamame, eggplant, flax seeds, garlic, garlic powder, ginger, green beans, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, hijiki, honey, kaffir lime, kale, kombu, leafy greens, leeks, lemon, lemongrass, lentils, lime, macadamia nuts, maple syrup, millet, mint, mirin, mushrooms, mustard, nori, nut cheeze, nut cream, nuts, oil, onions, onion powder, orange, papaya ”salmon”, paprika powder, parsley, parsnips, pecans, peanuts, peas, pistachios, potatoes, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, radishes, rice, rice vinegar, saffron, scallions, sesame seeds, sesame oil, shallots, smoke, smoked paprika powder, shredded coconut, snow peas, soybeans, shoyu, spinach, spirulina, sprouts, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, tahini, tamari, tamarind, tempeh, thyme, tofu, tomatoes, vegan butter, vinegar, walnuts, wakame, walnuts, wasabi, watercress, youn coconut, zucchini.


Miso comes in many different colors such as white, beige, yellow, red, brown and black. It is said that there are as many different kinds of miso in Japan as there are types of cheese in the United States. The lighter the miso the quieter volume. Light miso (called “shiro miso” in Japanese) is usually made with a larger proportion of rice, and has a shorter fermentation time of just a few weeks or months. I find light miso to be very versatile as it has a mild flavor and because the color is not effecting the appearance of the food. 

I use light miso in light dressings, sauces, broths, soups, and even in place of dairy in some recipes, such as vegan miso butter or miso mashed potatoes. It is also great to use in fermented nut cheese as it gives a salty umami flavor and can act as a culture starter (this only works if the miso is unpasteurized). White miso is also a great replacement for nutritional yeast, just remember to put less salt to make up for the saltiness of the miso.

Dark miso on the other hand may be fermented for months or even years. It has a saltier and more loud taste with plenty of umami and pungency that works well in heavier brown sauces, stews, braises, marinades and glazes. Coat vegetables such as butternut squash, cauliflower or root vegetables in dark miso glaze before roasting or baking. Use it in marinades for plant based bacon made with aubergine, zucchini, young coconut flesh or rice paper. Another idea is to marinate tofu or tempeh in a sauce with dark miso to take it to the next level. 

Unpasteurized “living” miso will loose nutrition and beneficial probiotic bacteria when heated over 43°C (115°F). Therefore, I recommend to heat miso up without boiling it whenever possible. When making broth or soup, cook the other ingredients until ready. Then turn the heat off and add the miso paste before serving. If heating or re-heating miso soup, warm it up and remove from heat just before steaming. 

In some recipes it is necessary to subject miso to heat, and I´m not saying to never do that. I just like to be aware of the nutritional benefits of the ingredients I use, and preserve them whenever it makes sense. 


The beans used for making miso are almost always soybeans. However, it is also possible to make soy free miso with other legumes such as chickpeas or adzuki beans.

If you choose to use miso made with soy, I highly recommend selecting a certified organic brand. Soy beans used to be a healthy food. However, just like corn, it is best to assume that any soy product could have been genetically modified or subject to GMO contamination. In the United States, genetically modified soybeans have gained 90% of the market. In other parts of the world, such as Asia, the likelihood of Genetically modified soybeans is not as high. However, conventional soy production requires lots of pesticides, therefore, organic is extra important when it comes to soy products compared to many other products. I prefer to use miso from chickpeas rather than soybeans whenever it is available since soy is an allergen and many customers of Alchemy restaurant are avoiding soy. 

Depending on processing and preservation method, the finished miso product may still contain living cultures of "friendly" probiotic bacteria and enzymes, known to be beneficial for digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients. By supporting our intestinal micro flora, probiotic foods can help support health, considering that a healthy gut is essential for a healthy immune system. 

Many brands pasterurize their miso product to prolong the shelf life, and allow it to be stored in room temperature. This process rids the final product of those beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Therefore, I recommend to look for an unpasteurised, “living” miso paste. Living miso will need to be stored in the fridge, but the shelf life is still very long, since the bacteria culture also preserves the food. 

Miso usually contains some sort of grain such as white, red or brown rice, millet, barley, buckwheat or hemp seeds. Sometimes rye or wheat is used. Beware that miso containing barley, rye or wheat are not gluten free.

When purchasing miso, I recommend reading the label to ensure there is no MSG or other chemicals added to the product. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that miso contains high amounts of salt, and therefore ideally, consumption should be limited to approximately 6g per day or less.  


Store miso in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a year. 


  • Salt. A bit extra salt is often enough as a substitute for miso if there are lots of other ingredients in the recipe. 
  • Shoyu, coconut aminos or Bragg's aminos are other options with both salt and umami flavor. 
  • Vegetable stock. When making soup, vegetable stock can be used instead of miso. 
  • Nutritional yeast is another replacement for miso in dips and vegan cheeses
  • Tahini can be used if you need a substitute with ”body”, say in a dressing for example. Add a pinch of salt to make up for the salty miso. 



Miso is a very good source of minerals including manganese, zinc and phosphorous.  It is also and a good source of protein, fiber, omega-3 and vitamin K. Some studies show that the beneficial bacteria in fermented foods such as miso (only if unpasteurized) can synthesise vitamin K2 as a by-product of their metabolism. Studies show vitamin K can help with bone density, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and lower the risk of hip fractures. 

K2 is claimed to be important for the uptake of calcium, and otherwise mainly found in animal products including egg and dairy. Therefore, it is particularly interesting for vegans and other people who avoid dairy and eggs.  Others claim there is enough vitamin K in leafy greens, and no need for concern.  This information has proven challenging to research, and when it comes to the connection between miso and vitamin K2 more research is needed.


The cultivation of miso began thousands of years ago in China. In the 10th century it found its way into the heart of Japanese cuisine. 

The precious seasoning was so treasured that it was impossible for the general population to afford. High level bureaucrats would collect miso as their salary.  

Initially miso was grainy. The use of a mortar and pestle produced a miso paste that could then be mixed with water to make miso soup. This was a key event in the history of miso. 

Another important milestone in miso history was the discovery that using ash from burned leaves to store the aspergillus starter culture meant that it could be kept alive and easily transported to fermentation facilities. 


  • Kawano K. History and functional components of miso (in Japanese). Nippon Aji Nioi Gakkaishi 2007; 14:137-144. 2007.
  • Kim TW, Lee J, Park M et al. Analysis of Bacterial and Fungal Communities in Japanese- and Chinese-Fermented Soybean Pastes Using Nested PCR-DGGE. Current Microbiology 60. 5 (May 2010): 315-20. 2010.
  • Machida M, Yamada O and Gomi K. Genomics of Aspergillus oryzae: learning from the history of Koji mold and exploration of its future. DNA Res. 2008 Aug;15(4):173-83. 2008.
  • Murooka Y and Yamshita M. Traditional healthful fermented products of Japan. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2008 Aug;35(8):791-8. Epub 2008 May 7. 2008.