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Miso, a Pantry Special (Recipe: ginger-maple-miso salad dressing) {vegan, gluten-free}

Miso salad 

When I think about miso, I remember steaming bowls of soup at Japanese railway stations, an indescribably delicious ginger-miso salad dressing at a Japanese restaurant closer to home, and the first time I tasted miso-glazed cod, just a few years ago. Somehow, the words fermented soybean paste don't conjure up those same memories, though miso is nothing more than that: soybeans (or barley or rice) fermented with salt and kojikin, a type of fungus. (Oh, that doesn't make it sound better, does it?) Used as a seasoning and a soup base, miso comes in different colors (white, yellow, red), mild-flavored or stronger, slightly salty to very salty. You'll find it in the refrigerated aisle of Asian groceries and some supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Regular grocery stores in my area don't stock miso, so it isn't a permanent resident in my pantry. When I do have some, it's a wonderful treat. And because it's fermented, miso will stay fresh in my refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to one year.

Is this Pantry Special new to you?

Miso paste

Where to buy online:
South River Miso (made in Massachusetts)
Amazon.com (white miso, red miso)

How to use miso:
Chopped miso salad
Miso-marinated sea bass
Japanese eggplants broiled with miso
Creamy salmon miso soup
Pumpkin chickpea salad with miso tahini orange dressing
Spicy miso marinated green asparagus

Maple-ginger-miso salad dressing

Ginger-maple-miso salad dressing

A light dressing for any green salad or grilled vegetables. Double the amount and keep some on hand in the refrigerator for several days. Makes 1/2 cup.


1 heaping Tbsp mild miso
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp grated ginger root
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil


Combine all ingredients except water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and whisk until smooth. Add water, whisking in a tablespoon or two at a time, until you reach the consistency of salad dressing you like (approximately 1/4 cup).

Salad dressing will keep for a week in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar. Shake the jar vigorously, or whisk the dressing, before using.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Asparagus in miso sauce
Cucumber ribbon salad
Ginger cabbage salad

More recipes on Soup Chick:
Quick and easy miso soup

Other recipes that use miso:
Nobu black cod with miso, from Rasa Malaysia
Walnut miso noodles, from 101 Cookbooks
Miso chicken, from Just Bento
Japanese eggplants broiled with miso, from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Miso butterscotch spare ribs, from Habeas Brulee

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love miso (I think I have said that already on your site, Lydia!). This dressing sounds very nice. I will try it for sure.
Oh, miso marinaded raw salmon slices are nice, too. I am craving for some!

i just finished my jar of miso on over the weekend - SOUP (what else) but i need to get another one because i am loving the sound of this dressing!

Every once and a while I see miso in local grocery stores but not often. For me, this would be a pretty exotic treat. If I were spending a spa weekend at home, this salad would be part of it.

I have some miso in the fridge too. I usually make the Japanese "nasu dengaku" fried eggplant. I can never remember which miso is used for soup -- I think it's white.

I can never get enough miso, and this salad dressing looks perfect. It's put me in the mood for a salad, and it's only 8:30 am! Thanks for the recipe and for the link to my miso-broiled eggplants.

yeah gmo's scare me, thank goodness for whole foods.
this dressing sounds so good. there was a dressing almost like this served w/ a veggie sushi roll at whole foods and it was to die for.
i will print this one out for sure.

I love the fresh miso and ginger salad dressings at Japanese restaurants. I need to replenish my miso stash and make this.

That sounds delicious! I recently used golden miso to make a vegetarian soup stock - it was very flavorful, if a little strong.

Never cooked with it, but I have eaten it at Japanese restaurants, so I guess that makes this pantry special semi-new to me :) This dressing sounds delicious though---just in time for salad season around here (when temps warm up and we start eating lighter again).

Just had this on a garden salad. Lovely! Yum! Yum! Yum!

Anh, I've never tried miso-marinated raw salmon, but it sounds delicious.

Meeta, this is the type of salad dressing that I find completely addictive. I always make a double batch!

Mimi, the markets around this part of Rhode Island don't carry miso either, but I'm lucky to get to Asian groceries in Boston fairly often, and there's a Whole Foods about 20 miles from here that fills the gap.

Julia, isn't it amazing how versatile miso can be, once you have it on hand? The eggplant sounds delicious.

Susan, we had this dressing on grilled asparagus the other night, and it was the perfect compliment to the smoky flavor of the vegetables.

VanillaSugar, I love getting salad with a miso dressing as part of a bento box lunch. Haruki, in Providence, always includes a little salad like this one in their bentos, and miso soup, too.

Katerina, same here. I can never get enough of that dressing!

Judy, what else was in the vegetable stock? I think I've already confessed that I've never made a vegetable stock that really made me happy.

Sandie, for both salads and cold cooked vegetables, this dressing is a must. And it doesn't scream "soybean paste" -- it just is the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Hope you'll try it, as well as some of the other wonderful miso recipes listed here.

Rupert, you are one lucky guy!

Hey fellow misophiles! I love miso too! The kind in the picture is the exact kind I have in my fridge right now. My favorite is a miso blue cheese dressing that I managed to recreate from a nearby restaurant .

I love miso with fish and tamarind soup based. It's just so yummy. :-) Thanks for this great idea of miso for salad dressing.

This would be a perfect salad after my workouts!The miso makes it really special YUM!

Looks like a lip smacking dressing. Thanks.

Anebeli, that dressing sounds delicious. I'd love to have the recipe!

Kathy, miso and tamarind? I've never tried it.

Nazarina, my husband loved this dressing, so I know it was good. It's really light.

Sri, it is, it is.

I just found your website (looking for seasoned rice vinegar recipe) and think it's fantastic! I've wanted to buy miso but wasn't sure how long it kept in the fridge. Now that I know I am definitely picking some up next week. Thank you!

I have died and gone to heaven. Just picked the first greens from the hoop house and made this dressing. I am a miso newbie so this just made me a regular miso consumer:—).

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