Chowhound chelleyd01 has heard a lot about miso—Japanese fermented soybean paste—but wants to know: “What does it taste like?”

The question is “kind of like saying ‘what does cheese taste like?’ or ‘what does wine taste like?’” says soupkitten, who notes that “it’s going to come down to what it’s made out of, how it’s made, how long it’s fermented, and how the final product is used.”
With such variation, not to mention modest cost compared to wine and cheese, miso is a rewarding substance for Chowhound exploration. “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,” says soupkitten.

For beginners, it’s important to know that miso’s most salient characteristic is that it is very salty. “It also has meaty, nutty tones,” says Orchid64, “but mostly, it’s salty.” soupkitten advises that white or light misos will have a milder flavor than the red or brown misos, and that “a little goes a long way.”

1sweetpea has an organic white miso that “tastes like a 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.”

soupkitten has this suggestion for the miso beginner: If you live near an authentic Japanese restaurant run by Japanese chefs, order a bowl of miso—and, if you like it, “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.”

Board Link: sooo, what does miso taste like?

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