Why Doesn't My Miso Soup Taste Miso-y?
April 9, 2017 7:14 PM   Subscribe

When I make miso soup, it doesn't taste of miso. I have both red and white Miso Master brand miso - if I use the white, it doesn't taste much of anything, if I use the red, it tastes of something, but it's not particularly good and definitly not miso-y/ salty. I'm not boiling the soup, and I'm using the same dashi I use to make tsuyu (which is delicious) so I don't think that's the problem. What gives?
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried rolling your own, with kombu and bonito flakes? When you make tsuyu, you are adding some fairly strong flavors to the broth, so the dashi itself could be relatively bland without your realizing it.
posted by praemunire at 7:19 PM on April 9, 2017

For what it's worth, I add the miso at the very end. I usually use a scant tablespoon of miso paste per bowl, and then slowly stir the broth in, so the miso remains uncooked. I've used shiro, barley and red miso in this way and it's always come out well. You can always melt a little more miso into the serving bowl if it's not miso-y enough!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 7:25 PM on April 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are you sure the miso is as salty as you're expecting it to be? When I make ramen soup with miso, I always add either soy sauce (more than you'd think) or the _very_ salty ramen flavor packet.

So, if I were you, I'd just add soy sauce. You can also try just adding more miso.

Looking at the nutritional info for the red Miso Master miso: 2 tsp contains 480 mg sodium.

You may be using more or less miso, but that's the serving size given.

This source says that 1,500 milligrams of sodium is 2/3 teaspoon of salt; that 480 mg is less than 1/3 of that, so you're getting 2/9 or less than 1/5 teaspoon of salt.

This might be enough for your preferred flavor, but if not, you'd need either more miso or another form of salt to flavor your soup.
posted by amtho at 7:36 PM on April 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Correction: this Morton Salt info says that 1/4 tsp salt is 560mg sodium, so that 2 teaspoons of red miso gives you less salt (480 mg sodium) than 1/4 tsp Morton's salt (560 mg).

Looking at that now, I don't know how much miso or how much liquid you're using, so that < 1/4 tsp salt may be quite reasonable -- but you have a starting point for at least the saltiness calculation now.
posted by amtho at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2017

You could also blend different types of miso until it's at the balance of flavor and salt that you like. But honestly if your dashi is good, you don't need a lot of miso. Perhaps try a different recipe.
posted by inevitability at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2017

480 mg sodium is nearly a quarter of the recommended daily maximum consumption. I doubt the problem is that there's not enough salt in it!
posted by praemunire at 8:25 PM on April 9, 2017

That depends on whether one is making a single serving at a time... probably, but maybe not. When I make miso ramen, it's sometimes half or two-thirds of my food for the day, or a pot of soup that lasts three days for two people.
posted by amtho at 8:30 PM on April 9, 2017

I looked in my fridge at the miso I bought in Japantown and it lists 690 mg sodium per tablespoon so I think the issue could be that it's actually not as salty as miso you tasted elsewhere. The problem may not be that there' not enough salt compared to the RDA but that there's less salt than is in comparable bases and dishes.
posted by oneear at 9:55 PM on April 9, 2017

Given that you only have two variables here* - the dashi and the miso paste - I think you have to try changing the product for each of them separately.

Re miso paste: I've found that every brand/kind of miso paste has a different taste. I got somewhat obsessed by this and now have three different miso pastes in my fridge (in addition to my doenjang). My white miso has quite a distinct flavor in soup but definitely still a "miso taste". I have two kinds of red miso but they're like night and day. Not good/bad, just different. My favorite out of the three was this one (neutral but savory) which I picked up because it was on sale at the Japanese grocery.

Re dashi: I only ever tried the hondashi granules because that's what they sell around here. It tastes fine to me.

*I don't think boiling the miso paste really affects the taste. I've boiled and reheated many a miso soup and they taste fine. Seems like the stir in just before serving is more for preserving the probiotics...
posted by yonglin at 11:30 PM on April 9, 2017

How much miso are you adding? When I make miso soup I add a base amount of miso, then keep adding until it tastes right to me. Just Hungry's miso soup recipe has suggested amounts.

(I can tell from the taste when miso soup has been boiled - I find it rather unpleasant, and definitely a factor that lowers my evaluation of a restaurant when I encounter it.)
posted by needled at 2:11 AM on April 10, 2017

For me, it is all about the kombu.

I boil kombu until my kitchen smells like an ocean, (I make large, amounts of miso at once but this is my guage)
It looks like way it much kelp for the pot, but it gives it what I'm looking for. Then I take kombu out add hondashi in reccommended amounts and lower heat, add miso, stir and serve!
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:09 AM on April 10, 2017

Miso master brand sucks. Get some imported stuff and it will taste right.
posted by genmonster at 4:57 AM on April 10, 2017

Kombu contains a lot of umami. If your miso broth tastes "thin", then I'd suspect the kombu is the problem.

If you aren't making dashi from scratch using kombu and bonito, then try that first. You probably have a lot of salt and msg if you aren't. Not that this is strictly bad, but you might have too much flavour enhancer and not enough real base to the broth.
posted by cotterpin at 6:45 AM on April 10, 2017

When you make your stock do you wash your kooky?. You need to keep the white powder on it as that's where the msg/glutamate are. That's what makes the flavors that come later seem stronger.
posted by wwax at 7:04 AM on April 10, 2017

(I'm having miso for lunch right now! Kismet!)

I tend to add some cubed tofu, nori or dulse, mushrooms, scallions and the like to get what I consider the full miso experience. A little bit of soy sauce can be nice, but I'm so partial to my specific miso maker that I usually just add more miso paste when I feel the need. Maybe try a different brand or type of miso in the future and see if you can find your just-right spot?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:27 PM on April 10, 2017

I've never used Miso Master or even heard of it before, but it's true that your miso soup will only be as good as the miso that you use. Use a Japanese brand if you have an Asian market near you. I think most Japanese restaurants in the US use white miso. I don't remember the last time I had red miso outside my own kitchen. When you say dashi, do you mean the liquid kind that you would add water to make soup for dipping noodles, or are you talking about the granules (hondashi)? I hope you're talking about the granules! You should be adding those, with the miso at the very last step after all of your vegetables (or whatever you put in the soup) have been cooked and the heat is on low or turned off. Never boil miso soup!

Wow, I just realized how much I sound like my mom.
posted by lifeaskew at 4:38 PM on April 10, 2017

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