Hokkaido brown bear, stewed in miso and shipped to our door.

For many people, it’s hard to hear the word “miso” without immediately mentally adding “soup,” but that’s just one way to use Japanese cuisine’s famous bean-based ingredient. Miso can also be used as a glaze or stew seasoning for a variety of foods, including fish, chicken, and vegetables,

Oh, and bear. You can also get miso bear.

However, this isn’t a dish you’ll find in most Japanese restaurants, or in the repartee of most home chefs. We stumbled across it while browsing the online store Kariudo no Kura, which translates to “The Hunter’s Storehouse.”

In addition to miso-ni (miso-stewed) canned bear, Kariudo no Kura also sells yamato-ni bear, stewed in soy sauce, sugar, and ginger. We opted for the miso version, though, and here it is.

Removing the can from its shipping package, there was no mistaking its contents for anything else. Aside from the giant-font katakana text reading “brown bear” (ヒグマ/higuma), there was a lifelike bear illustration right on the label.

For this assignment, taste-testing duties fell to our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa (because at SoraNews24, some days you get paid to eat premium wagyu beef out of a can, and sometimes you get paid to eat bear). Cracking open the tin, Seiji braced himself for an alarmingly gamey smell, but to his pleasant surprise he instead got a pleasant miso aroma.

The can contains 70 grams (2.5 ounces) of bear meat, and as Seiji poured the can onto a plate, large, thick chunks of meat came tumbling out.

▼ They’re not beefy, they’re bear-y.

Given the powerful physique bears have, Seiji wondered if the meat would be jaw-exhaustingly tough. But while it’s definitely more sinewy than beef or pork, the miso bear meat itself is extremely soft. While there’s a little gaminess, there’s also not much fat, and the lean meat works well with the miso seasoning.

Popping the plate in the microwave for a bit improved the eating experience further still, making the meat even tenderer.

So while miso bear has definitely got some unique qualities, Seiji didn’t find the overall eating experience particularly crazy or intimidating. “It’s perfectly tasty food,” he concluded.

Purchasing the product, though, is a little tricky. Kariudo no Kura isn’t some big food and beverage conglomerate, but a local operation in Japan’s northern Hokkaido prefecture that allows hunters to directly market their meats. After placing his order on the Kariudo no Kura store, Seiji was asked to select one of four Hokkaido banks into which to directly transfer payment. Once the payment was confirmed (which took a week), he got an email from Kariudo no Kura telling him his canned bear was on the way. But even though the buying process was a little inconvenient, it was still a lot easier than having to go hunting for a bear himself.

Related: Kariudo no Kura
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[ Read in Japanese ]