Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or paste

negimiso1.jpg

This is one of those really useful and versatile sauces or pastes (the consistency just depends on how long you cook it down to evaporate the moisture) that is so easy to make that it’s really barely a recipe. It’s a basic standby in Japanese kitchens. As a loose sauce, it can be used in stir fries or as a sauce on meat dishes. As a stiffer paste, it makes a great onigiri filling. Cook it down more to make it quite dry (though it will still be clumpy, not totally dessicated like commercial furikake), and it becomes an interesting furikake. I’ve given 3 variations for you to try here. The first is the most traditional, the second is low in sugar, and the third is alcohol-free.

Incidentally, it’s either called negimiso or misonegi, depending on who you talk to. Both words mean the same thing, combining the word for onion or leek (negi) with miso. I prefer to call it negimiso.

Loose negimiso can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. Cooked down paste can keep for a bit longer, and well cooked down, dry furikake can even be kept in the pantry.

What is negi anyway?

Negi is a particular type of bunching onion - that is, an onion that does not form a bulb at the bottom. It’s somewhere in between a leek and a scallion or spring onion in thickness and texture. I have seen it translated as Welsh onion, though it’s not exactly the same. Japanese cooks usually just use the white part of a negi, rather like leeks, but in Osaka they prefer to use the green parts (and the locally available negi are grown to have more green). You can use either leeks, spring/green onions (scallions) or both.

Vary the saltiness by varying the miso

The more salty the miso is, the more salty the negimiso will be of course. Try experimenting with various miso pastes and see which one you like the best. The negimiso in the photo was made with a mixture of red and white (brown) miso. See the Japanese Miso Primer.

Recipes: Negimiso (Japanese onion-miso sauce or paste)

All of the recipes make about 2/3 US cup of loose sauce, and a lesser amount of cooked down paste. You can increase the amounts proportionately to suit your needs.

Variation 1: Classic negimiso

  • 4 Tbsp. finely chopped leek or green onion
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (120ml or 150g) smooth miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegan dashi stock (or regular dashi stock if you aren’t concerned with making this vegan). The same amount of water with 1/2 tsp. of dashi stock granules can be used instead.

Sauté the chopped up leek or green onion in the oil over medium heat until limp and translucent.

In the meantime, combine the miso, sugar, mirin and dashi stock in a bowl. Add the mixture to the pan. Stir and cook until the sauce is glossy and thick. Take off the heat and let cool.

You can continue stirring and cooking this down until it forms a stiff paste to use as an onigiri filling, or cook it down for a longer time until it turns quite dry. Be careful not to let it burn.

Variation 2: Sugarless double-onion negimiso

This still has a sweet taste due to the addition of onion, even without adding the sugar substitute. (By onion here, I mean the regular bulb kind.) For diabetics, note that there may still be a little sugar in the miso itself, depending on what kind you use, and the mirin. See more about that here.

  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. finely chopped leek or green onion
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (120ml or 150g) smooth miso paste
  • Sugar substitute equivalent of 1 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegan dashi stock (or regular dashi stock if you aren’t concerned with making this vegan). The same amount of water with 1/2 tsp. of dashi stock granules can be used instead.

Sauté the chopped up onion oil over medium heat for a few minutes, then add the leek or green onion. Keep sautéing until it’s all limp and translucent.

In the meantime, combine the miso, sugar, mirin and dashi stock in a bowl. Add the mixture to the pan. Stir and cook until the sauce is thick - it won’t turn that glossy since there’s no sugar in it. Take off the heat and let cool.

You can continue stirring and cooking this down until it forms a stiff paste or furikake, as for the first recipe.

Variation 3: Simplified, sugar and alcohol free negimiso

This one lacks some of the depth of flavor of the first two variations, but is still good! If you want it to taste sweet, add sugar or sugar substitute to your liking.

  • 5 Tbsp. finely chopped leek or green onion
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (120ml or 150g) smooth miso paste
  • Water

Sauté the chopped up leek or green onion in the oil over medium heat until limp and translucent. Add the miso, and enough water to make it into a paste. Stir to cook down a bit, and let cool.

You can continue cooking this down, as with the first two variations, in a frying pan. Or you can toast it lightly by spreading very thinly on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and baking for 5 to 10 minutes in a 400°F / 200°C oven. The surface will turn dry and a bit crispy. Scrape it off the paper or baking sheet with a spatula - it will clumpy, not totally dessicated like commercial furikake. This is great as an onigiri filling, or sprinkled on plain rice or even noodles, or on low-key iridofu.

Other variations

You can make any of the negimiso variations spicy by adding some red chili peppers to the onions as they cook. Or, just add a sprinkle of shichimi tohgarashi (see Essential Japanese ingredients) for a more complex flavor.

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Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I've never heard of Negimiso. Sounds yummy...I will have to try it. Thanks for sharing the great recipes!

Jeanette | 17 September, 2010 - 14:05

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

This looks outstanding. I think it would make an interesting twist on a miso-only topping for broiled eggplant.

Donsie | 17 September, 2010 - 14:23

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

Great!
I had a negimiso onigiri in Tokyo many years ago (which I found in a convenience store) and have been looking for the recipe since then!

Kalle | 17 September, 2010 - 19:47

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I will be trying this and will email u with my results...it looks fantastic...I will make both the regular and Diabetic thx for this.

Yesterday I made a thick paste of miso with coca cola as the liquid to put on salmon...it was fantastic.

Natalie Sztern | 17 September, 2010 - 21:34

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

Negimiso is one of my favourites in Japan and I love it with a good quality beef like Hida gyuu. I have never tried making it myself but will give it a try.

Japan Australia | 18 September, 2010 - 02:10

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

First thing in the morning and you have my tummy grumbling! I've been planning to make some shiitake dashi in the next few days for ramen but will be sure to reserve some for negimiso too. Thank you for reminding me of another yummy favourite!

Lissie | 18 September, 2010 - 14:37

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I want to comment regarding miso in general. I have looked at the miso primer and other miso recipes on this excellent blog, and have not found any reference to this, which I think is important. The most important reason not to cook miso is that miso is full of beneficial living organisms and enzymes—in this lie its health benefits—which are killed by cooking. One must never cook or boil miso if wishing to retain its incredible health properties. For this reason it is also highly recommended to buy unpasteurized miso, which is kept refrigerated in the store, shipped cooled or only in cool weather if bought online, and should always be kept in the fridge at home. The pasteurization process destroys many of the beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Unpasteurized miso is a living food, rich in lactic acid bacteria and enzymes which aid in digestion.
I cannot comment on the way cooking/boiling affects the taste, in this I will defer to Maki's superior knowledge, but for the health-conscious, I wanted to put in my 2 cents. In the US, South River Miso in MA produces a range of unpasteurized miso, about 10 different kinds, and also sells the tamari that naturally accumulates at the top of the miso vats during fermentation.
Happy misoing everyone :-)
Tal

Tal | 20 September, 2010 - 02:59

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

Very interesting recipe, will try it as soon as I can!
I thought about the issue of cooking the miso while reading the recipe, only to find it in the comments being discussed by Tal! As I am not sure which kind of miso I have at home (probably the dead one as it was not in the fridge in the shop) I'll give it a go anyway.

Curious to know what Maki thinks about the miso being cooked...

Lianasd | 20 September, 2010 - 19:01

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

This is more of a condiment than the actual food, so I am not overly concerned about preserving the nutrients to be honest.

Food is for enjoyment just as much as it is for nutrition! No?

maki | 20 September, 2010 - 19:06

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I totally agree with Maki.

As a Japanese, I've never had miso for a nutritional
purpose or health benefit in my forty-some life but
just for the taste.

The amount of miso you take in from one meal is so
small I don't think it's essential to keep one extra
healthy. Besides, if you consume a significant amount of
miso in a meal, I'd rather worry about the drawback of
excess sodium intake.

Nonetheless I'm healthy and I hate to eat an uncooked miso
dish because I can't stand the fermented smell.

AY | 21 September, 2010 - 19:59

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

This is interesting and looks like a very appealing add-on..

Hmmm... onigiri filling?? i love the taste of caramelized onion over hot rice! trying out this recipe sometime, thanks for sharing it maki!

Cheers!

Musings of the Midnight Writer | 22 September, 2010 - 01:35

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

This looks divine. Very similar to caramelized onion, but I love the addition of miso and the seasonings!!

whisk woman | 24 September, 2010 - 05:05

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I never fail to order miso soup when I go dining in a Japanese Restaurant. I must try this recipe, it looks really interesting and must be tastt too.

Quay Po Cooks | 24 September, 2010 - 17:33

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

Just stopping through. I love how this looks. I'll try it.

thesoulofjapan | 27 September, 2010 - 12:39

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I had never heard of negimison until I read this article. I made some the other day and absolutely adore it.

It might be a bit unusual, but I used mine (cooked to a thick paste) to add to cheese sandwiches, and it adds a lovely flavour. It's cheese and onion, essentially, I suppose...!

I am currently making a large batch of it, some of which I'll use as a paste, and the rest will dry out in the oven to use as a furikake or onigiri filling.

I hope that, when it is dried out, it will keep for a while in an air-tight jar in a cupboard?

Anyway, I must get stirring...

sushidushi | 1 October, 2010 - 17:16

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

Ah, I see that Maki had already mentioned that the dried version will keep in the pantry. And I thought I had read the article pretty carefully!

sushidushi | 1 October, 2010 - 18:41

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I have now made my big batch of negimiso. The stuff I made in to a thick paste is perfect, but I had trouble with the batch I wanted to make in to furikake. I put it in the oven for 10 minutes, as Maki suggested, but it was still like a paste - just a bit thicker. I have continued to bake it, but it just hasn't gone crumbly. Am I missing something, perhaps? I was expecting it to dry out to the point I could crumble it and keep it in a jar. I'll hang on to the stuff I have for now, but I don't think it's right at all.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Thanks.

sushidushi | 1 October, 2010 - 19:06

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I'm guessing that you did not spread it out thinly enough, but the furikake state that I get is clumpy and still sticky. It's perfectly usable in that state to put on rice and so on. To make it totally dessicated like commercial furikake, you'll need to dry it out for a lot longer. Try spreading it very thinly on top of parchment paper, and leaving it in a warm oven (turn the oven off after you have 'baked' it initially for about half an hour at around 150C/350F) overnight.

(ETA: I've edited the description of the article to clarify the texture after baking.)

maki | 1 October, 2010 - 21:40

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

Thanks for the recipe! It looks delicious. I'll have to try it sometime soon!

I was wondering... I watched a Japanese series called "Osen" a while back, and in one of the episodes they mentioned something I think they called "okazu miso." Does this fall under that category too? Also, this is a bit of a tangent, but do you know of any common varieties of okazu miso? I haven't been able to find much info on it...

Thanks so much for all you do!

sarujin | 7 October, 2010 - 18:55

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I can't wait to make this sauce!we make baby onions in a kind of caramel sauce in Italy.This is going to be delicious.Love your blog and all things Japanese!

2friends | 25 October, 2010 - 12:19

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

Just tried this on sliced Japanese eggplant cooked in a grill pan. Yum, thanks!

e_chendo | 4 November, 2010 - 04:10

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

This stuff is AWESOME. I made the classic recipe, and like all the other Japanese food I've made, it's hard to believe the depth that comes from just a few ingredients.

I cooked it down so I can make onigiri with it because I'm running out of bonito flakes. :(

I will definitely be using this as a sauce as well! Thank you so much for posting it.

EricaVee | 5 April, 2011 - 04:38

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I couldn't find my iPad when I was attempting to make this and I ended up with an overly soupy mess that turned into the most amazing vegan brown gravy. Now I know I need equal parts water and miso!

But for the gravy....if anyones interested...

Sautéed one bunch finely sliced scallions with two tbsp golden brown rice miso. Added about a cup of water...whopps! So i added another half cup of water plus a tsp corn starch and brought it to a boil. The result was a smooth brown gravy full of umami that rivals any beef gravy ive ever eaten!

Now to make the negimiso....

Kari | 13 April, 2011 - 20:40

Re: Negimiso or Misonegi - Japanese onion-miso sauce or ...

I've never tried it before. It's looks yummy :p~

Shizuo | 10 November, 2011 - 00:21

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