Aka Miso vs Shiro Miso: What is the Difference?
Miso is a quintessential Japanese seasoning that is widely loved by home cooks in many countries. As you know, it is a smooth, salty, savory paste made by fermenting soybeans and rice or cereals like barley with salt and Koji (malted rice).
Aka Miso vs Shiro Miso
In Japan, there is a wide variety of miso pastes available in groceries and supermarkets, among which “Aka Miso (赤味噌: Red Miso)” and “Shiro Miso (白味噌: White Miso)” are especially common.
Today, these 2 types of miso paste are also widely used outside of Japan, but what is the difference between them? Today, let me talk about that.
Aka Miso (赤味噌: Red Miso)
For Aka Miso or Red Miso, soybeans are steamed and aged at a high temperature for a long period of time. In the process, Maillard Reaction is caused by protein and sugars in soybeans and Koji, which gives the miso paste a red color.
Since Aka Miso has a long aging period, its salt content tends to be high for preservation. Accordingly, the resultant red miso paste is typically quite salty but more savory, umami-richer than Shiro Miso or White Miso.
In addition to being used in miso soup, Aka Miso is often blended with sugar and soy sauce and is used for tofu, Konnyaku, or simmered daikon radish. Also for its savoriness, in Japan, Aka Miso is sometimes used as a secret seasoning in curry sauce or beef stew.
Shiro Miso (白味噌: White Miso)
For Shiro Miso or White Miso, soybeans are boiled in water to let the protein and sugars in the beans run out, which prevents Maillard Reaction from being caused.
Since, compared to the steamed soybeans for Aka Miso, the boiled soybeans for Shiro Miso are aged for a shorter period of time, its salt content is low and the resulting white miso paste has sweetness.
In Japan, Shiro Miso is not only used in miso soup and Nabemono hot pot dishes, but the white miso paste is also often used as a marinade for meat and fish.