Miso Is The Unexpected Umami Boost For A Better Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich

Even with its reputation for childhood nostalgia, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a perfectly acceptable snack for an adult. Sometimes, however, you might want to age it up a little to fit your grown-up palate. You can butter your PB&J and grill it, toast it, add sliced bananas and strawberries, and more. Those are all familiar variations at this point — but nothing is more unexpected or telling of a matured flavor than a bit of umami. So why not spread a bit of miso paste into the mix? Paired with a natural, unsalted peanut butter and your choice of jam, miso paste will add a much-needed hit of savory, umami dimension.

As a plus, making miso peanut butter for your PB&J is simple — and it will keep in your fridge for weeks. You can use any nut butter that you like, really, as long as it's unsalted. Natural is also preferred because the oils will help the two pastes mix and prevent it from becoming too thick. However, if you're using what you have on hand and it doesn't happen to be natural, you can add peanut oil or any other neutral cooking oil to keep it from getting too dry. Starting with a few tablespoons of peanut butter in a bowl, simply add a tablespoon of white or yellow miso paste at a time, mixing and tasting in between. Once you've reached your desired texture and flavor, lay out your favorite sliced bread and get to sandwiching.

Variations of miso peanut butter

Part of what makes the PB&J such a universal snack is its simplicity, so by all means, keep it simple with your miso peanut butter concoction if that's what you like. But if you're feeling fancy, there's always room to elevate it — and, in turn, your PB&J — even more. To start, you can make your own nut butter from scratch. All you need is nuts, which you can use roasted or raw, and a blender. Whether you go with peanuts, pecans, almonds, or sesame seeds, simply throw them into your blender and blend.

Beyond how much or how little miso paste you use, you can also experiment with the types of miso paste you mix into your nut butter. White and yellow miso are recommended for their lighter colors and more subdued umami flavor, with yellow being the stronger of the two. If you're craving extra umami, you could also mix your nut butter with red miso. Red miso is much darker in color, however, so don't be surprised if your miso nut butter comes out a different shade. Keeping in mind the flavor difference, you may also want to tweak the ratio and use less than you usually would.

Another way to amp up your miso nut butter is to infuse it with other textures and flavors. Chopped nuts are great for a little crunch, as is honey for added sweetness, chilis for some spice, and orange peels for citrus.