8 Miso Recipes Showcasing Its Versatility, Including Pasta, Fish, and Cakes

The first few months after becoming vegan, I did a lot of experimentation in the kitchen with very mixed results. Once I familiarized myself with all the meat alternatives – tofu, tempeh, seitan, textured vegetable protein and more – I found that the two most difficult flavors to imitate were cheese and fish. The store-bought alternatives didn’t come close (the early days of vegan cheese were dark), and the homemade substitutions often lacked the complexity and dimension of flavor I was looking for. One day I found a vegan mac and cheese recipe that called for miso. Skeptical, I followed the instructions to the letter and made a batch. After one bite, I was a believer.

Miso paste packs a major umami punch. Here’s how to use it.

Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans, is a staple Japanese ingredient. It’s an umami powerhouse – a small spoonful packs a bold, salty punch. During my vegan years, I used it in everything: pasta, sauces, broths, dressings, anchovy and fish sauce substitutes, the list goes on. And even though I eat dairy now, I always keep a jar of miso in the fridge to instantly boost a wide variety of savory (and even sweet!) dishes. The bottom The recipes in the Recipe Finder feature the endless ways to use this versatile ingredient in your home cooking.

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Miso Butter, above. If you’re looking to take your classic grilled cheese to the next level, this is absolutely the way to do it. Caramelized sweet onions and rich miso butter add plenty of umami cheese in the sandwich.

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Poached Salmon and Napa Slaw with Citrus-Miso Vinaigrette. A citrus-miso coleslaw brings a dose of pizzazz to this weekday salmon dish. The versatile dressing can also be used for salads, tofu, poultry and more.

Upside-Down Pear and Grilled Miso Cake. Miso can be known for its savory applications, but it is equally wonderful in desserts. As Olga Massov, deputy recipe editor, writes, this cake is “a cheeky flirtation between sweet and savory.”

Miso-Maple Acorn Squash Soup. This soup has cozy autumn nights written all over it. The miso and maple syrup complement each other, enhancing the natural sweetness of the squash. The recipe calls for acorn squash, but feel free to mix it up with butternut, kuri, or kabocha.

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Miso-Orange Glazed Carrots. At special occasion meals, side dishes are sometimes overlooked. While there’s nothing wrong with just seasoning vegetables, why not make them even more memorable with a miso-orange glaze?

ochazuke. This late-night Japanese classic is a great way to use up leftover rice. The warm, mushroom-laden miso broth warms the rice when poured over it, and flaky salmon is placed on top. Dress the dish with green onions, sesame seeds, nori, wasabi, or anything else you think is good.

Miso vinaigrette. This dressing is a balancing act between bright, salty and creamy. It is sublime on salads but can be associated with much more: vegetables, fish and rice are just a few ideas.

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Crispy chilli miso-parmesan pasta. This pasta has all the flavors you could want: salty, savory, spicy. Miso, doenjang, parmesan and crispy chili come together in a bold, creamy sauce, while toppings of green onions and crumbled nori add freshness and crunch.

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