Putting soy sauce on white rice is a major faux pas in Japan, but now there’s a flavorful alternative.
To those unaccustomed to eating traditional Japanese cuisine, it can be hard to resist the temptation to pour soy sauce on their rice, especially when there’s a bottle of the stuff sitting right there on the restaurant table. But while soy sauce is used to season a great many foods in Japan, such as sushi, sashimi, and tofu, it’s never used on white rice.
But if the subtle sweetness of plain white rice is too delicate for your palate, Japanese company Kiyoya has an option for you with its new product, called Chocolate to Put on Rice.
This isn’t a straight-up dessert, however. Kiyoya, based in Nagasaki, is a miso producer, and this is technically a mixture of miso and chocolate. Peanuts are also listed among the ingredients, and opening the jar’s lid allowed a chocolaty, nutty aroma, with no trace of miso notes, to drift out.
The paste’s primary elements are present in different proportions in the flavor profile, though. We started by taking a lick of Chocolate to Put on Rice all by itself, and we’d call the taste 70 percent miso, 20 percent chocolate, and 10 percent peanut.
That’s still a tasty mix, though, and so it was time for the second stage of our taste test, as we took the label’s advice and added some to a bowl of freshly made rice.
With steam still rising off the rice, the chocolate scent became even more apparent. We took a bite, and found that just like the name says, Chocolate to Put on Rice goes surprisingly well with Japan’s favorite grain. The overall sensation is more salty than sweet, and while the cocoa fragrance gives it a definite touch of sweetness, it’s still mild enough that you can enjoy it as an accompaniment to your entrees, as opposed to an after-meal indulgence.
Next, we tried adding a dab of Chocolate to Put on Rice to a bowl of miso soup, figuring that the combination of like and like would make for good results…
…and we were right! The combination gave the soup a stronger, fuller flavor than it had without the added ingredient.
Finally, we tried enhancing some kimchi with Chocolate to Put on Rice.
This turned out to be a misstep, as the flavors just didn’t mesh well together.
Honestly, since chocolate miso is an unprecedented condiment, it’s hard to say what Chocolate to Put on Rice would go well with. We’re looking forward to finding out, though, and we think next we’ll be trying Kiyoya’s recommendations of adding it to bread, pasta, and curry. If you’d like to experiment for yourself, Chocolate to Put on Rice can be ordered here directly from Kiyoya for 486 yen (US$4.40) a jar.
[ Read in Japanese ]