Miso is a traditional Japanese fermented bean paste made primarily with soybeans. Because there are over 1,300 types of Miso produced across Japan, it can be difficult to classify them into specific categories. However, they are commonly categorised according to the main ingredients used in their production.

Mame miso

One of the most famous varieties is Mamemiso, occasionally known as Hacchomiso. It has been produced in Nagoya for over 400 years and is a favourite among Japanese emperors. It has a distinctively rich flavour and is commonly used to make soups.


Shiromiso is a widely produced Miso variety, and is made with rice, barley and a small quantity of soybeans. It has a subtle, delicate flavour and is great for preparing dressings and light sauces. In fact, it can even be used in place of dairy in certain recipes (Miso mashed potatoes, anyone?)

Kome miso

Kome Miso (rice miso) is more commonly found in eastern Japan, and comes in a variety of colours – white, red and yellow. Whitish Miso is made from boiled soybeans while reddish Miso is made from steamed soybeans.

Mugi miso

Mugi Miso (barley Miso) is produced in Kyushu and Shikoku and has a full-bodied graininess. When used in soup, it’s strained to remove any extra textures. It can also be combined with other types of Miso to make sauces and marinades.


Akamiso (red Miso) is made with a combination of about 70 percent soy beans and 30 percent rice or barley. It’s characterised by its long fermentation of about one to one-and-a-half years, which creates its strong salty flavours and red colouring. It’s best suited for heartier dishes that require braises, marinades
or glazes.