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sooo, what does miso taste like?

I hear alot about miso soup, miso glaze, miso miso miso! What does it taste like? Would I maybe have already have had miso at a japanese restaurant?

Im sure I sound like a goof asking, but I just want to know!

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    1. tastes kind of beefy. Like a really nice oxtail soup (the instant kind)

      1. There is lots of variety in miso types: salty, fishy, nutty are some of the words I'd use to describe it, but even then you're missing a lot of the nuances of miso.

        You would probably remember having it in a Japanese restaurant. Most likely you had a black lacquer bowl of miso soup to accompany your meal. It might have had a few small cubes of tofu and some sliced green onions in it. You might have had it glazed onto black cod or aubergine, too.

        Best way to find out what it tastes like is to try some!

        1 Reply
        1. Mostly, salty. It also has meaty, nutty tones, but mostly, it's salty.

          1. when you get into (all of the many kinds of) miso, it's kind of like saying "what does cheese taste like?" or "what does wine taste like?" you can give a couple of easy answers, but really it's going to come down to what it's made out of, how it's made, how long its fermented, and how the final product is used. i'm not some huge miso snob who can tell all sorts of things about miso from tasting it, but i'd encourage you to dip your toes in and try a few different kinds, especially if you can get your hands on small-batch artisan stuff. generally, the white/light misos will be milder than the reds and rich brown misos. a little goes a long way.

            one hint-- if you live near a good authentic japanese restaurant (run by japanese chefs), go in for a bowl of miso soup-- their popular menu item. if it appeals, ask if they have "another miso" they could make you another bowl of soup from (be prepared to spend a couple bucks extra). if it's an authentic place, they will almost certainly have a darker, more small-batch product in the back for the staff, and for special preparations.

            2 Replies
            1. re: soupkitten

              My organic shiro (a.k.a. white) miso tastes like a mushed up mixture of beans, nut butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and a hint of sugar. A tiny spoonful can chase away a salty cheese or olive craving. It makes a convenient substitute for beef broth, when used with the pot liquor left over from rehydrating shiitake mushrooms. I've made onion soups that had miso added to create depth of flavour. My 3-year aged barley miso tastes like olive paste. It's amazing how pungent it is to consume straight, but how subtle it can be when added to something else -- much like Vietnamese fish sauce.

              1. re: 1sweetpea

                Go to that Japanese market in Porter Exchange and buy some.. its in the fridge in the corner..

            2. maybe a spoon for a cup of broth with some diced firm tofu and chopped scallion...

              minimal and great - oughta be served like coffee in winter IMHO.

              but that'll make the Ikebana look garish.

              1. I've had miso soup many times. I find it has very little taste, a little salty but i think it is the weakest cheapest effort at soup making there is. It adds an extra course to the meal but honestly I can't see any value in it. Hot water, a couple pieces of tofu and a few strands of seaweed. As far as I can see, prisoners deserve better.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Fat Swine

                  that's kind of funny. there is something about it that makes me feel better when I have a cold. It's not fancy soup, but it's better than just the sum of it's parts, if you know what I mean.

                  1. re: Fat Swine

                    Sounds like instant miso soup to me, probably in powdered form. Miso soup from scratch doesn't take long to prepare and the results are well worth the (minimal) added effort.

                  2. From a description on the South River Miso Site:

                    "The written word, miso, first appeared around 800 AD. Among the royalty it was sometimes called "…higurashi, meaning ‘a clear-toned summer cicada’ whose song is said to be able to penetrate even the hardest stone. Likewise, the rich fragrance and fine flavor of miso were known to penetrate and season other foods. For this reason, in the Kyoto area miso is still occasionally called mushi or bamushi meaning ‘insect or honorable insect’."

                    Here's the site:

                    One highlight to note is a slight bitterness on the back of the tongue - the same effect you get from sake (nihonshu). That's because they share koji - the cultured rice that's used as a starter for both products.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: applehome

                      Wow....nice description applehome. 2,500 years of the multi faceted benefits and joys of Miso can't be wrong. I first tried Miso Soup at a favorite little Japanese restaurant when I was in my teens and loved the subtle tasting brew as a prerequisite to what was forth coming in the unique dining experience.
                      I recently started introducing myself to different types of Miso from Asian Markets and now prepare it as a complete meal, with various types of seaweed, carrots, tofu, green onions, noodles, a little Tamari etc....and no longer have to settle for a thimble size lacquer bowl to merely tease me. I believe "Life is Way too Short" to NOT experiment with the varieties and joys of Miso in the comfort of your own home.
                      Morning, Noon or Night... Miso is your friend!!!

                    2. It's delicious. I use it in everything. My husband's favorite is a honey-miso salad dressing. You can buy a smallish container and use a small spoonful in soup, salad dressing, marinades, or even as a glaze or sauce. It stays forever in the fridge.