Miso Is A Powerhouse Ingredient For Unbeatable Mac And Cheese

A cast iron pan full of macaroni and cheese
A cast iron pan full of macaroni and cheese - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Adding unexpected ingredients to a classic dish like mac and cheese might leave some passionate fans shaking their heads, but there are many unique additions that can take an already delicious-tasting dish further. In the case of macaroni and cheese, miso is one such powerhouse ingredient that can make for a truly unbeatable flavor.

While miso is often found bubbling on the stove in a pot of miso soup or mixed into a flavorful salad dressing, this versatile ingredient also does wonders in intensifying your macaroni and cheese. Miso is made up of powerful ingredients such as fermented soybeans, salt, and a fungus called koji, so it packs in a lot of unique flavors that happen to be complementary to cheese. Miso's naturally nutty taste can heighten the soft and buttery flavors of cheese, making for a much more complex and layered taste overall. The savory flavors already present in mac and cheese will be augmented too, as miso's well-rounded umami flavor ties all the different ingredients of this dish into one.

This paste can set your mac and cheese apart by turning an otherwise familiar-tasting dish into something a little different and interesting, leaving guests wondering just what exactly your secret ingredient is. So, for the supporters and skeptics of this addition alike, here's how you can make it for yourself.

Read more: 15 Tricks For Making The Most Crispy Chicken Thighs Ever

How To Reap The Benefits Of This Powerful Paste

A bowl of miso paste
A bowl of miso paste - Evgeniy Lee/Shutterstock

To add depth to your mac and cheese, all it takes is a dollop of miso. There are a whole lot of variations of miso paste -- we're talking over 1,000 -- but shiro and aka are the most popular variations and are most commonly found in generic grocery stores. Shiro is white or yellow in color while aka is red, but they are both made up of the same stuff. The only differences in these miso pastes are in their fermentation time and the concentration of ingredients. Aka paste is darker than shiro because it has been fermented longer, making for a much more potent flavor.

To use in mac and cheese, a shiro miso paste could be the best choice as its flavors are better suited to mesh well in mild dishes. Still, if you're craving more of an intense flavor bomb, try the aka miso out instead. This powerful umami ingredient is super concentrated, so adding even just a small spoonful into the sauce for your mac and cheese should do the trick. You can add more to taste from there.

If you don't already keep miso paste on hand, it might be time to change that. The versatile paste can enhance the flavor of almost any dish, so don't underestimate its powers.

Other Ways To Elevate Your Miso Macaroni And Cheese

A bowl of mac and cheese with cayenne powder
A bowl of mac and cheese with cayenne powder - Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

If you're happily surprised by the positive effects of this ingredient in your mac and cheese, don't stop the flavors from blossoming from there. Take your classic mac and cheese recipe even further with a few more simple and delicious additions.

Since miso adds depth to the salty and nutty elements of mac and cheese, it might be a good idea to augment the spice levels of your mac and cheese next to match. To give your mac and cheese a little extra kick, try sprinkling some red pepper flakes on top. This mild spice adds flavor without overwhelming the dish, so it's a nice and subtle way to elevate a fan favorite. For even more spice, add in some cayenne pepper or try folding in a few sprinkles of pepper jack cheese. If you're not a fan of spice but are still seeking out more flavor, reach for tasty herbs and spices. Add some minced garlic into the mix for additional nutty flavor, or round out the dish with some earthy oregano or sweet marjoram.

While mac and cheese is a mild dish on its own, there are many ways to enhance the hidden flavors of this dish. Give some of these unique additions a try to see which combination you like best.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.