I am often asked on this blog, “where can I buy miso paste to cook with?”
In the UK, miso is still a niche ingredient that is not stocked widely. Miso Tasty will see to that, in due course, (!), but in the meantime, the variety of miso available in the UK is sadly limited!
Your best bet is definitely your local Oriental supermarket. Most towns will have one and miso is usually placed with other Japanese ingredients such as sushi rice and mirin. Japanese brands of miso might include Marukome or Hikari Miso and they are likely be selling white (shiro) miso and red (aka) miso.
In Japan though, it was a WHOLE different ball game! I visited 2 specialist miso stores in Tokyo that just blew me away!
This first store was called MANKYU MISO, near Asakusa Station, was over 60 years old, selling miso, and miso only! Here I am getting a guided tour of the 30 varieties of miso they stocked from regions all of Japan.
We tried their white miso ice cream which was DIVINE!
Like vanilla ice cream with salted caramel.
These were miso flavoured snacks that tasted like twiglets!
Here is some hatcho miso. It smelt chocolatey and coffee-like in its depth of flavour. Completely black in colour.
Here’s a typical customer coming in to buy his monthly supply of miso; he said he usually used about 300g a month for his family of 4.
The store smelt really musky, what with all this miso sitting around. Turns out that they also made their own miso in the back too!
Outside the front, the boards tell us the history and heritage of their miso shop. Thank goodness for our friend Keiji, I would never have found it on this backstreet!
At UK supermarkets, you will mainly find miso from the likes of Clearspring and Yutaka who also sell a range of instant miso soups too. Again, you are limited to red and white miso pastes, at a stretch you might find a black miso paste too ( I think Clearspring are now selling a hatcho miso paste).
Just when I thought I had seen enough miso, we then come across THIS STORE! SANO MISO! Its a relatively new chain of miso stores which are super modern and stock over 50 types of miso pastes, loads of miso snacks and anything you can possibly think to go with your miso soup!
I visited the store near Kameido Station, and if you can read Japanese then you can check out their website here.
Here, at Sano Miso, miso is not only sold in barrels like the older store before, but also as a chilled ready-to-eat product, where the miso has been mixed with other ingredients to be served as dips! There was lemon flavoured miso, peanut flavoured miso, sardine and olive miso…! the UK has a long way to go!
Miso is treated as such a delicacy here. Below you will see that each miso is accompanied with a lengthy description of its origin and how its been made, also serving suggestions and even recipes to help you out!
Although you won’t find anything close to this number of variety of misos in the UK, to discover more types of miso, you really need to find a Japanese supermarket. See if you have one in your local area…There are so many different blends of miso possible, some with added dashi, some without. Barley miso, brown rice miso.. the list is endless. It is quite normal to find a whole aisle dedicated to miso, like cereal at Tesco; miso is a staple item in a Japanese supermarket.
I find… MISO BREAD!!!
And soooo many types of snacks flavoured with miso! V. Inspired!
If it was Christmas and I had limitless baggage allowance, you can guess what Santa might have brought you this year…!
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all those generous people who gave us their time to show us their wonderful varieties of miso! I would have been so lost without you. Special thanks to our fantastic tour guides, K & K of course too! We will be back!
- Would you like a Miso Soup with that? (makingmisotasty.com)
- My Miso Mecca – a visit to the oldest Hatcho miso maker in the world (makingmisotasty.com)
- ::miso Soup for the Soul:: (lifelotus.wordpress.com)
- Grilled Corn with Miso Butter (justonecookbook.com)
- Miso Soup (lezoemusings.wordpress.com)