If you thought shōyu was complex, you might want to sit down before you learn the intricacies of miso ramen. That’s because 1. there are a million different kinds of miso tare and 2. like, 4 million different types of misos. (That’s a rough estimate.) Miso are soybeans that have been fermented in salt and koji, which is a fungus used to make soy sauce and miso paste. The product of that fermentation is a seasoning that’s salty, fruity, sweet, savory, all at the same time. It can even be spicy, depending on what else the chef wants to add in. The resulting broth is normally thick and cloudy, with a coloring that’s white, red or a variety of colors in-between, depending on the miso that’s used.
Noodles & Toppings:
Because it’s a thicker soup, a thicker, wavier noodle is normally used, and a lot of bean sprouts and greens are added to the broth. With so many different takes on miso, toppings can really vary. For example, Chang says she had a seafood miso ramen with corn, butter, and crab when she was last in Sapporo, Japan, because the area is abundant in shellfish. “If you [were served that] at a ramen place in the States, you’d be like “What? Seafood, corn, and butter? Is this a summer ramen? Is this a New England ramen?” she says. “So it depends not only on the region, but also on the chef.”
Spicy miso ramen is one of the most commonly served miso-varieties stateside, and Sapporo Reserve works especially well with it, according to Marcus. The beer has a sweet malt flavor that helps cut through the heat. (And it’s way tastier than trying to sip milk with your noodles.) “The strength of the broth measures up perfectly to the strength of the beer,” he says. “Garlic, scallion, and herbal flavors of the miso act as seasoning for the beer’s malt profile.” The crispness of the beer also cuts through the broth’s heaviness, too.