What is BARLEY MISO? – Miso Taste Test & Barley Miso Soup Recipe

I’ve already made so many miso soup with different kind of ingredients. But how about a kind of miso paste…?
Most of the time I used the same miso paste for my recipe which you can get at grocery store.
I’m not sure about exact answer about what kind of ingredients are used and how it’s blended for my daily use miso paste.
So I want to share “comparing the tastes of several kind of miso paste”.

For this project, I bought five different types of miso at the store that specializes miso paste. Five are following: Barley, Hatcho, Shinshu Koji, Sendai, and Echigo miso paste.
In order to taste those five type miso clearly, I pick simple ingredients for this project which are tofu and wakame seaweed. I will make tofu and wakame miso soup five times from today.

Before I talk about today’s recipe, I should explain about how is miso made up of.
Miso is made out of soybean, koji, and salt.
The recipe is very simple:

  1. Boil soybean
  2. Mix up mashed soybean, koji, and salt
  3. Pack in a box and mature it for half months, one year, or more

Please check out How to make miso paste at home

Depending on the amount of koji and salt, the taste can be changed a lot. I mean that more koji and less salt creates sweeter miso, and less koji and more salt creates saltier miso. So you can create your own blending miso that fits your taste the most. Also each area in Japan has their original, traditional miso.

Another factor that changes the taste of miso is type of koji. There are three kind of koji and each one of them has unique taste.

  • Rice koji: gives great sweetness from rice
  • Barley koji: has relatively light taste and the flavor of barley is amazing
  • Soybean koji: is not very sweet and the flavor would not be gone even though it’s simmered long time
Barley miso
Barley miso

First off I would like to introduce BARLEY miso, Mugi-miso in Japanese.
Since miso paste I’ve already used were mostly rice koji miso, so I want to try the flavor of BARLEY miso.

As I mentioned above, BARLEY miso can be both salty and sweet depending on the amount of salt and koji.
It is said that people in Kanto region are more likely to have salty BARLEY miso, on the other hand Kyushu region has sweet BARLEY miso. The one I bought is the latter, made in Nagasaki prefecture (in Kyushu region).
Let’s start “comparing miso paste project” with sweet BARLEY miso soup!

【Recipe (2 servings)】

1 oz Barley miso paste (fermented soybean paste)*1
1 teaspoon dashi granules*2
3.5 oz tofu
1/2 teaspoons dried wakame (a type of seaweed)
1.7 cups (400ml) water
(Prepare extra water to reconstitute dried wakame)

*1 Feel free to adjust the amounts of miso paste to your liking.
*2 If miso paste already contains dashi, don’t need dashi granules.


1. Combine dried wakame with boiled water and wait until reconstituted. (takes about 1 min)

2. Drain in a sieve and wash with cold water lightly.

3. Boil water for miso soup.

4. Add tofu, wakame, and dashi granules. Simmer for 3 min. Then remove from heat.

5. Add miso paste and stir until miso is completely melted.

BARLEY miso soup
BARLEY miso soup

Ready to eat!

As I’ve learned, BARLEY miso made in Nagasaki prefecture tastes sweeter than the daily use rice koji miso.
You can feel awesome flavor of barley koji!!
I should probably tastes salty type of BARLEY miso in the future, but I definitely recommend SWEET type of BARLEY miso for now.

Enjoy your miso soup!