Tag Archives: 味噌

Miso: The Basics (updated)

MISO-1
Three types of miso

Since Sissi and her many friends seem to be more than interested in miso I thought it was grand time i published again this old article of mine, hoping it will prove useful to many

Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and a yeast called kōjikin (麹菌) in Japanese, the most typical miso being made with soybeans. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup, Misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Miso is still very widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining world-wide interest. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory, and there is an extremely wide variety of miso available.

MISO-8
Miso from Nagano Prefecture on sale in Kyoto

The predecessor of miso originated in China during the 3rd century BC or earlier, and it is probable that this, together with related fermented soy-based foods, was introduced to Japan at the same time as Buddhism in the 6th century AD.This fermented food was called “Shi”.
Until the Muromachi era, miso was made without grinding the soybeans, somewhat like natto. In the Kamakura era, a common meal was made up of a bowl of rice, some dried fish, a serving of miso, and a fresh vegetable. In the Muromachi era, Buddhist monks discovered that soybeans could be ground into a paste, spawning new cooking methods where miso was used to flavor other foods.
In the Sengoku (Feudal) era, miso was useful as a military provision and precious nourishing food for soldiers.
During the Edo period miso was also called hishio and kuki.
In the modern era, the industrial method of producing miso in large quantities was established and it became rare to make miso at home, although miso made in farms has suddenly become fashinable as a health food.

MISO-2
Miso being fermented inside a large wood cask

VARIETIES (FLAVOUR)

The taste, aroma, texture, and appearance of any specific miso vary with the miso type as well as the region and season for which the miso was made. The ingredients used, temperature and duration of fermentation, salt content, variety of kōji/yeast, and fermenting vessel all contribute. The most common flavor categories of soy miso are:

Shiromiso, “white miso”
Akamiso, “red miso”

MISO-5
Kuromiso, “black miso”

Hatchomiso
White and red (shiromiso and akamiso) are the basic types of miso available in all of Japan as well as overseas. Different varieties are preferred in particular regions. For example, in the eastern Kantō region that includes Tokyo, the lighter shiromiso is popular, while in the western Kansai region encompassing Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, darker brownish hatchomiso is preferred, and akamiso is favored in the Tokai area.

MISO-4
Akamiso and shiromiso

VARIETIES (INGREDIENTS)

The raw materials used to produce miso may include any mix of soybeans, barley, rice, buckwheat, millet, rye, wheat, hemp seed, and cycad, among others. Lately, producers in other countries have also begun selling miso made from chick peas, corn, azuki beans, amaranth, and quinoa. Fermentation time ranges from as little as five days to several years. The wide variety of Japanese miso is difficult to classify, but is commonly done by grain type, color, taste, and background.

MISO-6
Kinzanji/Kinzan Temple (金山寺味噌) miso

mugi (麦): barley
tsubu (粒): whole wheat/barley
aka (赤): red, made with rice koji and soybeans, medium flavor, most widely used in Japan
Hatchō (八丁): aged, strongest flavor, used mostly in Central Japan
shiro (白): rice, sweet white, fresh
shinshu (信州): rice, brown color
genmai (玄米): brown rice
awase (合わせ): layered, typically in supermarket
moromi (醪): chunky, healthy (kōji/yeast is unblended)
nanban (南蛮): chunky, sweet, for dipping sauce
inaka (田舎): farmstyle
taima (大麻): hemp seed
sobamugi (蕎麦): buckwheat
hadakamugi (裸麦): rye
meri (蘇鉄): made from cycad pulp, Buddhist temple diet
gokoku (五穀): “5 grains”: soy, wheat, barley, proso millet, and foxtail millet
Many regions have their own specific variation on the miso standard. For example, the soybeans used in Sendai miso are much more coarsely mashed than in normal soy miso.

Miso made with rice (including shinshu and shiro miso) is called kome (rice) miso (米味噌).

MISO-3
Miso sold in plastic container.

STORAGE AND PREPARATION

Miso typically comes as a paste in a sealed container, and should be kept refrigerated after opening. It can be eaten raw, and cooking changes its flavor and nutritional value; when used in miso soup, most cooks do not allow the miso to come to a full boil. Some people, especially those outside of Japan, go so far as to only add miso to preparations after they have cooled, to preserve the biological activity of the kōjikin/fermented yeast. Since miso and soy foods play a large role in the Japanese diet, there are a variety of cooked miso dishes as well.

MISO-7
Grilled miso seasoned rice balls and miso soup

MISO AS FOOD

Miso is a part of many Japanese-style meals. It most commonly appears as the main ingredient of miso soup, which is eaten daily by much of the Japanese population. The pairing of plain rice and miso soup is considered a fundamental unit of Japanese cuisine. This pairing is the basis of a traditional Japanese breakfast, although more and more Japanese in big towns eat European style as opposed to people living in the country.

MISO-9
Cucmber pickled in “gold miso”

Miso is used in many other types of soup and souplike dishes, including some kinds of ramen, udon, nabe, and imoni. Generally, such dishes have the title miso prepended to their name (for example, miso-udon), and have a heavier, earthier flavor and aroma compared to other Japanese soups that are not miso-based.

MISO-10
Fresh cucumber served with miso and sesame seeds

Many traditional confections use a sweet, thick miso glaze, such as mochidango. Miso glazed treats are strongly associated with Japanese festivals, although they are available year-round at supermarkets. The consistency of miso glaze ranges from thick and taffy-like to thin and drippy.

Soy miso is used to make a type of pickle called “misozuke” (味噌漬け). These pickles are typically made from cucumber, daikon, hakusai/Chinese cabbage, or eggplant/aubergine, and are sweeter and less salty than the standard Japanese salt pickle. Barley miso, or nukamiso (糠味噌), is used to make another type of pickle. Nukamiso is a fermented product, and considered a type of miso in Japanese culture and linguistics, but does not contain soy, and so is functionally quite different. Like soy miso, nukamiso is fermented using kōji mold.

Other foods with miso as an ingredient include:

dengaku (charcoal-grilled miso covered tofu)
yakimochi (charcoal-grilled miso covered mochi)
miso braised vegetables or mushrooms
marinades: fish or chicken can be marinated in miso and sake overnight to be grilled.
corn on the cob in Japan is usually coated with shiro miso, wrapped in foil and grilled.
sauces: sauces like misoyaki (a variant on teriyaki) are common.

NUTRITION AND HEALTH

The nutritional benefits of miso have been widely touted by commercial enterprises and home cooks alike. However, claims that miso is high in vitamin B12 have been contradicted in some studies. Part of the confusion may stem from the fact that some soy products are high in B vitamins (though not necessarily B12), and some, such as soy milk, may be fortified with vitamin B12. Some, especially proponents of healthy eating, suggest that miso can help treat radiation sickness, citing cases in Japan and Russia where people have been fed miso after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also some experts suggest that miso is a source of Lactobacillus acidophilus or Lecithin which is a kind of phospholipid caused by fermentation is effective in the prevention of high blood pressure. Miso contains salt. A small amount is essential to animal life but most scientists believe an excess of it can cause a variety of health problems.

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Miso Paste: Made Onsite at Miwa Agriroad

Mrs. Yukiko Mochizuki/望月幸子 and Mrs. Kayoko Mochizuki/望月加代子

“We make miso onsite for better quality, safety and traceability!”

Wednesday is on of the days I usually reserve for on-field interviews. On Wednesday mornings, whenever I have the chance, I try to meet my old friend, Mrs. Natsuko Koyanagi/小柳奈津子 in Agriroad Miwa, in Miwa, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City.

As mentioned before, Agriroad Miwa is a market run in collaboration by the JA and local ladies to sell all kinds of vegetables, bentoes and processed foods prepared by more than 100 lady members.
There are quite a few of these locally-run markets in town and prefecture, and they are the best bet for freshest and best quality without mentioning the very low prices!

I had noticed for quite a while these big boxes of miso paste on sale at this market. At 650 yen for a kg, this is quite good value.

When I questioned Natsuko about it, she explained that it was made in turns by lady members inside the Agriroad Market kitchen between December and March!

Natsuko hiding behind her mask (she had just caught a cold! LOL)

Good miso should not be complicated to make.
The good thing about this particular miso is that it is not only fresh and free of all preservatives and whatnot found in mass-produced miso pastes, it is also safe, stable and traceable!

The big vat in which the soy beans are boiled.

What do you need, then?
Quantities will be also according to the size of your kitchen snd utensils, but the bigger, the better!
-Soy beans: 30 kg
-Rice: 30 kg
-Salt: coarse salt/arashio/荒塩. Natsuko actually uses rock salt form Nepal!: 12 kg
-Yeast/koujikin/麹菌: one standard pack (can be bought in specialized shops all over Japan)
-Water, water, and more water (lol)

The ladies of the day were kind enough to explain the process with plenty of smiles!
The soybeans are first soaked for a whole night and then boiled until soft. Keep some of the soybeans water when you want to adjust the miso paste humidity later instead of plain water!
Agriroad uses soybeans grown in Hokkaido.

At the same time wash, rince and steam the rice. Old rice, that is from the previous year’s harvest, is best.
Agriroad uses exclusively local rice and salt made in Japan.
Let the rice cool down just a little. Sprinkle the yeast all over it evenly and let ferment for one day and a half (break it and mix it a few times).

Mash the soybeans.

Pour the mashed soybeans, fermented rice, salt, and whenever wanted (use your eyes and tastebuds) the “juices”/soybean boil water (cold) and mix well.

And that’s it!
Pour the miso into jars or other vessels, close tightly.
Some people use it as it is, but is best matured for 6 months at room temperature in winter or in the fridge in summer.

This the basic and delicious recipe.
Natsuko mixes her own with yuzu/lime/柚子!

Agriraod miwa/アグリロード美和
〒421-2114 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Abeguchishinden, 537-1.
〒421-2114 静岡市葵区安部口新田, 537-1.
Tel.: 054-296-7878.
Fax: 054-296-7878
Business hours: 09:30~15:30 (from 08:30 on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays)

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Red Miso Dip Sauce

This posting has also been prompted by my new friend, Maggie Lam, who wanted to get some information for a red miso dipping sauce.
It is only a suggestion open to infinite variations!

INGREDIENTS: For 2~3 people

-Japanese sake (if inavailable, replace with dry white wine): 1 tablespoon
-Red miso: 2 tablespoons
-Sugar: 1 tablespoons
-Ground sesame seeds: 1 tablespoon
-Oyster sauce (vegan and vegetarians can replace it with soy sauce): 1 teaspoon
-Sesame oil: 1 teaspoon

RECIPE:

-In a small pan, heat the Japanese sake to have the alcohol evaporate. Do not boil. Add all other ingredients and mix well.

-Let cool completely before using it.

NOTES:

This sauce is especially welcome in summer.
Combine white miso withe red miso for a different colour and taste!
If consumed by adults only, use chili pepper sesame oil!

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Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat

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Red Miso Dressing

This posting has been prompted by my new friend, Maggie Lam, who wanted to get some information for a red miso dipping sauce.
Although this particular recipe is more a dressing than anything else, it could be used as a dipping sauce if you mixed in fresh cream. Th cream will solidify when combined with oil.
Unfortunately it will not qualify as a vegan recipe.
I wonder if soy milk cream exists!

INGREDIENTS:: for 60 ml/cc of dressing

-Red miso: 1.5 tablespoons
-Soy sauce: 1/2 tablespoon
-Rice vinegar: 1.5 tablespoons
-Sugar: 1 tablespoon
-Salad oil of your choice: 3 tablespoons
-Ground sesame seeds: 1.5 tablespoons
-Freshly grated ginger: a little
-Freshly grated garlic: a little

RECIPE:

-First mix miso, soy sauce, sugar, ground sesame, grated ginger and garlic until you obtain a smooth mixture. Add oil and rice vinegar and stir well.

-Serve it onfresh vegetables and tofu salad!

-Great for taste and look on freshly boiled or steamed vegetables!

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Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Yuzu Miso Dressing

Vegan and vegetarians do sometimes experience problems making dressings for their food.
The Japanese have an easy and very tasty way to remedy for such an issue:
Yuzu Miso Dressing/Lime and miso dressing!

INGREDIENTS: To accompany 5 steamed turnips

-White miso: 150 g
-Dashi: (Check HERE for Vegan Recipe!): 2~ tablespoons
-Japanese sake: 2 tablespoons
-Sugar: 2 teaspoons
-Yuzu/lime juice: 2 teaspoons
-Yuzu/Lime zest (finely chopped or better, grated): 1/2

RECIPE:

-In a pan drop the white miso, sugar, sake and dashi. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved. Switch on fire.

-Cook on a small fire for 7~8 minutes. Switch off fire. Add the yuzu/lime juice and grated yuzu/lime zest. Mix well.

-Pour over steamed vegetables and serve immediately.

Easy, isn’t it? But delicious!

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Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Grilled Aubergines-Egg Plants and Garlic Chives Dressing

Looking through my notes I found another easy vegan Japanese recipe with aubergines/egg plants that requires only little work and provides plenty of beneficial elements!

Chinese Chives, or Garlic Chives (English), Ciboule de Chine (France), or Nira/韮 in Japanese have a dintinct taste and are widely used in Japanese cuisine for fried foods.
Both leaves and the stalks of the flowers are used as a flavoring similarly to chives, green onions or garlic and are used as a stir fry ingredient.

Garlic Chives and tofu.

The flowers may also be used as a spice. In Vietnam, the leaves of garlic chives are cut up into short pieces and used as the only vegetable in a soup of broth.

Grilled Aubergines/Egg Plants and Chinese Chives Dressing!

INGREDIENTS: For 3~4 people

-Aubergines/Egg plants: 3
-Garlic Chives/Nira: 1 bunch
-Soy sauce: 1.5 tablespoons
-Rice vinegar: 1 tablespoon
-Sugar: 1/2 tablespoons
-Sesame oil: 1/2 tab;espoon
-White sesame seeds: 1 tablespoon

RECIPE:

-Chopp the garlic chives finely. Drop tthm in saucepan with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Mix well. Let marinate for 15 minutes, stirring form time to time.

-Cut the stem end of the aubergines./ egg plants
Grill the egg plants/aubergines directly over the flame on a grill.
Doing it in the oven is fine, too.

-Once the the egg plants/aubergines have been evenly grilled and become soft inside, peel them completely.

-Cut the aubergines/egg plants into bite-sized pieces and serve topped with plenty of garlic chives dresing.

-Can be savoured hot, lukewarm or chilled!

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Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Egg plants/Aubergines & Miso Caviar

This recipe is another/different version form the previous egg plants/aubergines recipe to cater for vegan priorities.
Back in France, we do call aubergine paste, aubergine caviar (probably because of the sometimes reminiscent dark colour).
The process is almost the same, and it is of course open to variations, especially as far spices are concerned.

INGREDIENTS: For 2 people

-Egg plants/Aubergins: 3~4
-Rice vinegar: 1 tablespoon
-Miso (of your choice): 1 tablespoon
-Fresh perilla/shiso leaves: enough for decoration. Chop them finely first.

-Salt: no need as enough is contained inside the miso

-Optional: Spices (of your choice), grated ginger, and so on.

RECIPE:

-Grill the egg plants/aubergines directly over the flame on a grill.
Doing it in the oven is fine, too.

-Once the the egg plants/aubergines have been evenly grilled and become soft inside, peel them completely.

-Mash them finely with a knife.
Do not use a food processor as the the egg plants/aubergines will become a messy juice!

-Pour the mashed egg plants/aubergines in a bowl.
Add the rice vinegar and miso.
Mix well.
Served topped with finely chopped shiso leaves.

-Experiment with grated garlic, sesame oil and grated ginger!

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Not-Just-Recipes, Bengal cuisine, Cooking Vegetarian, Frank Fariello, Gluten-free Vegan Family, Meatless Mama, Warren Bobrow, Wheeling Gourmet, Le Petit Cuisinier, Vegan Epicurean, Miss V’s Vegan Cookbook, Comestiblog, To Cheese or not To Cheese, The Lacquer Spoon, Russell 3, Octopuspie, Bread + Butter, Pegasus Legend, Think Twice, The French Market Maven

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