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Know Your Food: The Miso Soup

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/14 Food ,

In almost every Japanese-style set meal you order in restaurants in Japan, you always have the Miso Soup (味噌汁 – misoshiru). It is a traditional Japanese soup that is basically made up of a stock called dashi and miso. It has other ingredients depending on regional and seasonal recipes, or your personal choice.

When Dashi meets Miso

The main ingredient of miso, as said above, are dashi and miso. Dashi and miso are used in Japanese cuisines. Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock. The most common form of it is a simple broth or fish stock. It is usually made with an edible kelp called konbu (昆布) and shavings of preserved and fermented skipjack tuna (katsuobushi) called kezurikatsuo. The umami taste of the miso soup is derived from the katsuobushi which is high in sodium inosinate. Miso, the other ingredient, is a Japanese seasoning which is produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and a specific fungus. They are sometimes mixed with rice, barley and other ingredients.

Miso Soup as a Staple Food

Miso Soup is always present in any Japanese house. It is served at any time of the day, be it morning or night and the other ingredients that are mixed into the soup depends on the personal preferences. It is a very staple food that it became a part of Japanese culture. There is even a pick-up line that goes, “”Will you make my miso soup for me every morning?”

miso shiru

Almost all Japanese like Miso Soup. I remember a line from a song from the band RADWIMPS that says something like, “that as a Japanese… he likes miso more than cheese. (Photo from Mr.TinDC on Flickr)

Personal Preferences of Miso Soup

Recently, the Japanese web magazine My Navi Woman published results of their survey which asked people of ages 19-77 on what is the ingredient they don’t want to see in their miso soup. There are 286 respondents and these are the results:

9-10) Carrot and Cabbage – tied at 2.1%

8-7) Bean Sprouts and Fruits – tied at 2.4%

6) Nameko – 3.5%

Nameko is a variety of mushroom with slightly gelatinous texture.


Nameko, a variety of mushroom. (Photo by Terence Faircloth on Flickr)

5) Nattō – 3.8%

Another traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It is slimy and has a strong smell that makes some people dislike it.


Slimy. Strong Smell and Taste. This is Nattō, nicknamed the Rotten Soybeans by some. 😀 (Photo by JD on Flickr)

4) Cucumber – 5.6%

3) Potato – 7%

2) Tomato – 7.3%

1) Eggplant (8.7%)

Have you tried Miso Soup? What are your preferences? Share it with us in the comments!

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