Miso is made from soy beans and usually rice or barley, which are steamed, mixed with koji (a fermentation starter) and left to ferment for six months to five years. The longer the fermentation, the darker and richer the miso is.
The taste, aroma, texture and appearance of miso all vary by region. However we categorize miso into three groups. Shiro Miso (white miso), Aka Miso (red miso), and Awase Miso (mix of red and white miso). White miso is milder and sweeter and suitable for dressings. Red miso is dark and high in protein and salt. Awase miso is all-purpose, begin a mix of red and white miso. My mom was using Awase Miso (mixed miso) and I’m using mixed miso for most of my dishes unless stated otherwise.
If you want to read more about essential differences between soybean, barley, and rice misos, continue reading here.
I’ve been using Hikari Miso brand miso for years because I feel it’s one of the best tasty miso I can purchase. For more information about their products, visit HikariMiso.com.
Substitution: There are no substitute for these.