Contemplating trying or using the thick fermented paste that is Miso? Not sure whether you will like it and want to know what to expect before you try it? This is what you will want to know.
So, what does Miso taste like? Miso is salty, yeasty, and somewhat meaty in flavor. While it is savory, it does provide sweetness too. Miso is rich, so a little goes a long way and will provide depth to any food or dish you decide to pair with it. Generally, the darker the Miso the more intense the flavor.
Miso is in many ways a Japanese culinary staple.
It’s used in so many dishes, as we shall soon see in a further section.
But what you need to know now is that Miso is bold and intense in flavor.
And that’s all down to what it’s made from – as we shall now see.
What Is Miso Made Of?
Traditional Miso is made from fermented soybeans, salt, and a fungus called koji. Although, rice, barley seaweed, and other herbs and spices can be used too.
More specifically, Miso is essentially a fermented paste.
This paste is created by inoculating soybeans and a mold called Koji (Aspergillus Oryzae) – with the latter being obtained from rice, barley, or soybeans.
The fermentation process can run for as short as a few weeks, but in some instances, it has been known to take place for several years.
It is the enzymes in the koji that break down the paste into simple sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids – giving us the complex flavors and structure it is known for.
And the longer the fermentation and aging, the darker the miso paste and the more complex the flavor becomes.
As a result, you can often find:
- Sweet Miso – has a short fermentation time, resulting in a lighter color, and less intense flavor. It is perhaps more refreshing and you can typically consume more.
- Dark Miso – is the result of a much longer fermentation time. It is also much darker, saltier and potent in flavor.
Lighter and sweeter Miso is commonly enjoyed by most people. It is generally quite mellow and pleasant. On the other hand, dark Miso is a much more acquired taste as it is typically strong and intense in flavor.
That being said, Miso is quite a unique flavor, and whether you like it is going to come down to your preferences.
Besides, sometimes you may Miso differently at different times.
For instance, depending on what it is used/served with.
For the most part, this sauce does take a bit of getting used to and a small amount is best at first.
At the same time, some Miso is of better quality than others so it does also depend somewhat on the brand, recipe, and result of the formation process.
What Do You Eat Miso Sauce With?
Miso is synonymous with soup; often being added to create the popular Miso Soup. Aside from this miso paste works well in broths, as a glaze for fish/meat and as a dressing for salads and vegetables.
In reality, Miso is very versatile and very easy to cook with.
It’s a great way to add savory notes to your dishes.
Here are some other popular uses:
- With Ramen Noodles,
- With Stir Fries
- With Baked Vegetables, like Corn on the Cob
- With Sauteed Vegetables, like Mushrooms and Onions
- With Kimchi,
- Blended with herbs to make a Pesto
- Spread on Pizza
- Added to Mashed Potato
It also pairs very well with other Asian condiments, including the likes of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.
So as you can see it’s very versatile.
Any time you need to add saltier notes.
Just be mindful of the complexity of Miso you are using.
A little generally goes a long way and the darker the Miso – the less you will generally need.
Miso certainly has an interesting flavor.
It’s bold and savory – although has a hint of meaty sweetness to it too.
That being said, not all Miso is made the same.
There is certainly ‘bad’ Miso out there.
A lot depends on the quality of the Miso (the paste) and the fermentation process.
Nevertheless, lighter Miso is enjoyed by most people – so that’s the one to try first and foremost.
Darker Miso, while something I personally enjoy, can be described as more of an acquired taste.
It may or may not be for you.
The only way is to try it.
What Does Miso Soup Taste Like?
Miso soup is very savory in flavor, although there is an element of sweetness if onions are used to garnish. It can also taste quite fishy and nutty depending on what ingredients are used, such as dashi (fish stock) and the complexity of the tofu.