Miso Love You!  

Miso is a thick paste made by combining soybeans and barley or wheat or rice (or a mixture of these grains) with a yeast mould (koji) that has been cultivated from a soybean, barley or rice base. The mixture is then aged from three months to three years. Consider the potential number of combinations this set of variables provides and you’ll get a sense of the wide range of colours, tastes and textures available out there in miso-land. Miso is very nutritious and is a basic element of many Japanese soups, stews and braised dishes.

There are different kinds of miso including rice genmaikome; barley mugi and soybean hatcho. The suffix refers to the grain that has been inoculated with koji before it is blended with the soybeans. Koji is a culture used as the catalyst in the traditional Japanese fermented foods. Hatcho miso has no grain added so takes longer to ferment usually a minimum of three years. It is known as the “Emperor’s Miso” and is highly prized in Japan.

Aka miso – also known as sendai-miso, inaka-miso and red miso – is a rich paste made from barley with a strong, salty flavour. Hatcho miso is a very pungent, salty variation, with a thick, grainy texture and a dark, murky colour. It is made from only soybeans and is used in small amounts to add richness to soups and broths. Shinshu miso is a golden-yellow, all-purpose version of this paste. It has a mellow flavour and a rather high salt content. Miso has a sweet, creamy, nutty flavour and a cooling thermal nature

5 things to do with miso 

1. Whisk barley mugi miso in to steaming dashi stock. Add cooked ramen noodles and fresh shitake mushrooms for a provincial Japanese meal.

2. Blend red aka miso with mirin, black sesame seeds and ginger juice to dress hot pumpkin.

3. Make miso topping for grilled eggplant. Gently simmer white shiru miso with egg yolks, sake, mirin, sugar and dashi stock until thick. Spoon over eggplant.

4. Hatcho miso is usually organic and unpasteurised, and is an excellent medicinal, hardy, deep robust miso and can be used mixed together with water, honey, and sesame oil and pour over cooked spinach.

5. Combine equal amounts of brown rice genmai miso and sake and serve as a dipping sauce for grilled chicken or tofu skewers.

1 thing not to do!

Never let miso boil as it will lose aroma and flavour.

Japanese style miso & eggplant dip

“Samantha Gowing has made a career out of cooking food for health and wellbeing. The award-winning clinical nutritionist creates healthy menus for luxury hotels and spas around the globe. But her latest project is much closer to home. Samantha helped Melbourne’s own Chris’ Dips develop a new range of nutrient-rich premium dips using superfoods combos like sweet potato/harissa, carrot/turmeric and eggplant/miso.”

The Down to Earth health product range for Chris’ Dips including this Japanese style miso and eggplant dip above is developed in consultation with chef and nutritionist Samantha Gowing to enhance health and wellbeing. With Sam’s food product development and design, this range of nutritional products deliver a delicious, fresh take on current health trends. It delivers a unique vertical wellness offering that is authentic.

The Japanese-inspired eggplant/miso dip is particularly delicious – and contains an ingredient close to Samantha’s heart. Apart from tasting great, fermented soy bean paste stimulates digestion, boosts the immune system and reduces LDL cholesterol.

Miso, besides adding a wonderful depth of flavour is a blessing for the body. It contains all essential amino acids, is restorative for the digestive system, a great source of B vitamins and has been shown to strengthen the immune system. While superfood seaweed is incredibly nutrient rich. Sweet, green sugar snap peas are the perfect accompaniment.

Cobia with seaweed and miso butter

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Tahini misonaisse

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  • Author: Samantha Gowing


Units Scale

1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup barley miso paste
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water


1.    In a blender, combine the miso, tahini and apple cider vinegar.
2.    Pulse until well combined.
3.    Add ginger and water and pulse until smooth.

Salad of sea vegetables with kelp noodles and miso dressing

Tempeh burgers with miso

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Miso shiru with wakame and tofu

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  • Author: Samantha Gowing
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Diet: Vegan


Units Scale

20 grams dried wakame seaweed, cut into 2.5cm pieces
225 grams dry tofu
750 ml dashi stock
45 ml white miso paste
1 spring onion, finely sliced


  1. Rinse the wakame and soak in lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Drain. Cut the tofu into 1 cm cubes.
  3. Bring the dashi stock to the boil, reduce heat and add the wakame and tofu.
  4. Simmer for just 1 minute then gently whisk in the miso.
  5. Do not boil, as this will alter the enzymes and flavour of the miso.
  6. Ladle the soup into 4 warmed soup bowls; garnish with spring onion and serve.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Category: Plant-based
  • Method: Soup
  • Cuisine: Japanese



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