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Miso soup is a staple food in pretty much any Japanese household. Served morning, noon or night, this thin, slightly salty broth is tasty, filling, and, as you’ve probably already realised, is the perfect accompaniment to rice. It is so deeply ingrained in Japanese culture that in some areas of the country there even exists a joke that a man may indirectly propose to a woman simply asking, “Will you make my miso soup for me every morning?”

But one person’s idea of a perfect bowl of miso soup can be another’s salty soy nightmare. With so many ingredients that go, or at least seem to go, well in a bowl of Japan’s favourite broth, it can be difficult to find a bowl that ticks all the boxes, and there are some ingredients that – depending on one’s upbringing, personal tastes or geographical location – are considered simply unacceptable.

Japanese web magazine My Navi Woman recently conducted a survey asking people aged 19 to 77 to share their most hated miso soup ingredient. 286 respondents were more than ready to comply, naming ingredients that range from the perfectly ordinary to the genuinely stomach-churning.

Let’s take a look at these supposedly “unforgivable” ingredients, shall we?

9. (tied) Carrot (2.1%)

Carrot may be a staple ingredient in the likes of 豚汁 tonjiru (miso-based pork soup), but it turns out that lot of people in Japan simply can’t abide the things in their miso soup. That being said, lots of kids in Japan claim to hate carrots, so seeing the humble ninjin on the list perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

▼ That weird flashback in Shenmue all makes sense now…

9. (tied) Cabbage (2.1%)

Cabbage features in a lot of Japanese dishes, and generally speaking the cabbage in Japan is much tastier than that in my native UK. Perhaps the thought of eating soup that looks like something served to old people in a Dickens novel is all too depressing for some to abide?

7. (tied) Bean sprouts (2.4%)

Another curious entry. Bean sprouts crop up in all kinds of dishes in Japan, and the enormous selection you’ll find in any Japanese supermarket is enough to make any visitor’s head spin, but apparently the water content in bean sprouts makes an otherwise delicious bowl of miso soup “taste gross”, with 2.4% of respondents naming them as their most hated ingredient.

7. (tied) Fruit of any kind (2.4%)

This one I, and hopefully any other moderately sane human being, can more than understand. What kind of sadistic cook puts fruit in their miso soup and expects people to like it!? At least three, it would seem, as two people surveyed reported having been served miso soup with apple in it, while one poor soul said they’d seen miso soup with pineapple floating on its surface. Pardon me while I dry heave over the bin.

6. Nameko  (3.5%)

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 4.11.06 PMDalian Zhongchao Food

Nameko, or pholiota nameko to give its full name, is one of those ingredients that you either like or loathe. Due to their texture and small size, nameko can be tricky to get hold of with chopsticks, and for some they are simply too slimy for their own good. Personally, I quite like ’em…

5. Natto (3.8%)

This next entry should come as no surprise to anyone. Natto may well have its fans, but those gooey fermented soy beans are also one of Japan’s most hated foods, so the very idea of mixing them into miso soup is enough to make this writer feel a bit queasy. Unless that’s just the thought of pineapple miso soup still in the back of my mind.

4. Cucumber (5.6%)

Probably about on par “any kind of fruit” in terms of texture, cucumber is another very strange choice for a miso soup ingredient, and we pity those who have ever had it served to them. Some people really do just want to watch the world burn, don’t they?

3. Potato (7.0%)

This one could be a something of a controversial ingredient since potato appears in plenty miso-based broths in Japan, especially up in the north where potato and satoimo are commonly seen in miso soup. Does it really belong, though? I’m going to have to agree with the respondent who stated that potato’s habit of breaking apart in miso soup makes it a wholly unpleasant ingredient, and cast it into Room 101 forever.

2. Tomato (7.3%)

Our sparkling tomato-juice loving writer Preston might disagree, but I’m going to join the 7.3% of people who named this as their most hated miso soup ingredient – including the woman who said she was once served it by a friend and couldn’t bring herself to eat it – by giving this one my stamp of disapproval. Tomato in miso soup? Ew.

1. Eggplant (8.7%)

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 4.21.18 PMGoo Blogs

In at number one, it’s the humble eggplant (or aubergine if you’re from my corner of the globe). Quite why, we’re not sure, since eggplant goes with pretty much anything and positively soaks up flavour. Perhaps those slivers of purple-skinned vegetable simply look a bit too slug-like for some?

Let this be a lesson to you, Rocketeers: not all miso soups are created equal, and not everyone will be a fan of yours, so make doubly sure the object of your affections can knock up a good one before asking if they’ll make your miso every morning!

Source: My Navi Woman/Livedoor News
Feature image Wikimedia: ish-ka