Miso might be best known as the ingredient in your sushi-shop soup, but the fermented soybean paste is way more than a broth starter.

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While there are hundreds of types of salty, umami-rich miso, you're most likely to see white and red in your local grocery store. Here's what you need to know about 'em.

white miso
Credit: Photograhy by Peter Ardito

White Miso

This combination of soy beans and rice is fermented for as little as three weeks and has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. 

How to use it: Use it to make miso soup; whisk it into salad dressings; or add a little to chocolate chip cookie dough for a salty-sweet hit. (Nobody will be able to guess the secret ingredient!)

red miso
Credit: Photograhy by Peter Ardito

Red Miso

Usually dark or reddish brown, this boldly flavored variety can be fermented for a year or longer and has a higher concentration of soy beans than white miso. 

How to use it: Use it where you want a powerful umami punch, like in gravies or stews. It's also a good match for meaty veggies, like mushrooms and eggplant.