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

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)

Aka Miso or 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.


Tofu Dengaku

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)

Shiro Miso or 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.


Shiro Miso Marinated Chicken

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.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 味噌, MacaroniMoguna )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

2 Responses

  1. Luiz Felipe says:

    Thank you, this article helped me a lot. I’m a brazilian enthusiast of japanese food, and I was just wondering wich miso should I buy for my recipies. ^^

    • Tomo says:

      Hi Luiz,
      Thank you for commenting and you’re welcome!
      There are actually so many varieties of miso but these are the most common and basic!

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