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Oct 28, 2010 07:14 PM

How to find great miso?

Hi all, a few weeks ago I was eating lunch cooked by some friends and at the end we ate miso soup, which was miles and miles better than any I'd ever eaten, really rich and complex. The bag of miso was caramel coloured, and though we had a language barrier I made out that it was 'chemical-free' miso, or something like that. Anyway, it got me wondering about how to find really top quality miso. I doubt I can find that particular kind (I live in China) which was bought in Japan but does anyone have a brand they really love or some tips to judge quality - colour, consistency?

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  1. Perhaps the soup was really good because of the stock (dashi). Have you every had light (shiro) miso before? It's caramel colored -- sounds like what you had.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      as Tripeler suggested, dashi makes a lot difference.
      to make dashi, put dried kombu and dried shitake in a bottle of water for 30min or 1h.

      if i had to name my favorite brand, it would be marukome but i think it is hard to find so any japanese miso would do.

      i do not know about colour because there are many shades but about consistency, it is softer than cream cheese and harder than cheesecake, i think.

      1. re: yumyumyumyum

        For me, katsuobushi is also essential for a good dashi.

    2. I live in Japan and use Aka Miso (red miso) regularly. Aka miso is a medium reddish brown. I usually don't buy the kind with dashi already added but my Japanese husband almost always gets it because that is what he used when he was in college. I usually make my own dashi from kombu, dried shitake or dried daikon but will use dashi granules when I'm felling lazy.
      I don't have any specific brand recommendations but I prefer the chunkier kind of red miso. But if you want want easy miso you can buy the Japanese kind that says だし入り (dashi added, or dashi iri). Right now in the fridge the brand of miso we have is Marukome マルコメ there is a small picture on the top of a bald boy holding a bowl.