Unusual combination turns out to be unusually delicious!

Our Japanese-language reporter Haruka Takagi has been on a bit of a quest to find unique things to eat lately, and her most recent adventure brought her to a roadside service station in Aichi Prefecture. There, she came across a product called Hatcho Miso Powder, a local specialty. As a native of Hiroshima Prefecture, this was Haruka’s first time to see it, so she bought a pack to try at home.

Dating back as far as the Sengoku period (1467-1568), Hatcho miso is made using fermented soy beans and salt. Whereas normal miso is light brown in colour, Hatcho miso is known for its distinctive deep red hues.

Hatcho miso powder (a.k.a freeze dried Hatcho miso) is sold in packs of ten for 380 yen (US$3.28). The packaging recommends it to be used in traditional Japanese dishes like miso soup, or for a sauce or dressing. But Haruka had heard a rumour that Hatcho miso powder goes unexpectedly well with a certain sweet food item — ice cream.

▼ The official recommended uses for Hatcho miso didn’t seem to include any ice cream though.

Haruka was eager to get started on the taste experiment, but was curious. This was her first encounter with Hatcho miso powder, after all, and she had to know — what did it look like? She tore open a packet and sprinkled some on her hand to check.

While the texture of the miso powder was silky like powdered milk, Haruka couldn’t get over the fact that Hatcho miso powder looks… well… kind of like dirt. “Is this really edible?” she wondered, as she inspected the powder closely. It didn’t look remotely appealing to Haruka, but she tentatively had a lick of the powder on her hand.

… and was immediately met with a wave of rich deliciousness, which made her instantly take back every ill thought she’d had about the miso powder’s appearance. The miso powder was slightly salty — much different to what she’d imagined — and there was a whiff of roasted nuts, with a strange, bitter chocolate-y aftertaste. This was like no miso she’d ever tasted before!

Keen to try this mysterious miso powder on other things, Haruka ran to her fridge to get some pork belly to grill.

▼ She then sprinkled a generous amount of Hatcho miso on top.

▼ It tasted incredible!

It was lighter than a sauce dressing and tasted more flavourful than salt. Haruka wolfed down her pork belly in no time at all, and wanted to experiment more!

Next up, she made a dressing using Hatcho miso, rice vinegar, ground sesame seeds and some water.

▼ She drizzled it on a small salad.

The dressing was delicious too. In fact, it was so delicious that Haruka could imagine this being sold in shops.

But while the pork belly and salad were all very well and good, Haruka’s true taste test wasn’t with these conventional dishes, but something a little more out there — yes, it was finally ice cream o’clock!

▼ Haruka sprinkled a pack of Hatcho miso directly on top of a tub of vanilla flavoured ice cream.

▼ Time for the taste test… (also one more chance to admire Haruka’s fabulous nails)

The miso topped ice cream was a huge hit. The salty taste of the miso brought out the sweetness of the ice cream and made Haruka feel like she was eating some sort of fancy salted caramel flavoured ice cream.

Haruka thought back to her earlier notion that Hatcho miso powder “looked like dirt” and “didn’t look delicious at all” and was overcome with regret. If there were a way to take them back, she’d do it… but for now she’d just have to repent by eating even more Hatcho miso.

The small, individually packaged sachets of Hatcho miso makes them convenient to take on camping trips, and Haruka plans to take some with her on her next visit to the great outdoors. But the real winner here in Haruka’s eyes is the ice cream and miso combination. Seeing as ice cream with ramen on top was a huge hit in our books though (and the other way around was equally delicious), the fact that Hatcho miso and ice cream go so well together isn’t exactly surprising now, is it?

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