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I am so glad that finally I can show you how to make miso from scratch. My mum never bought miso from the shops. We would always get it from my grandma until she passed away and no one never learnt from her how to make miso. I really regret that and now I live in Australia I really wish that I had leant how to make miso.
I have been to two workshops in Queensland, Australia to learn how to make miso. After these workshops, I did some further research and now I can make my own miso paste! In Japan there are a lot of different types of miso by region and home recipes are handed down each generation. Now I have my own recipe to pass down to my children.
Types of Miso
Miso is a traditional and essential condiment of many Japanese dishes. It is an important part of Japanese cuisine. Miso is a fermented food and it is classified by the ingredients, colour, or taste. By ingredients, there are three types, rice, burly, or beans. In terms of colour, there are white (shiro), red (aka), and mixed (awase) and this way of classification is the most commonly seen. For the taste, there are mainly either sweet or savoury/salty. Reference: Marukome Miso
How to use Miso
Obviously, miso is the main and the most important ingredient of Miso soup. But it is also used for many different dishes and Japanese people use different types of miso for different purposes. The main ingredients for making any type of miso are the same but the process and the length of fermentation are what differentiate the miso colour.
White miso paste is whitish in colour because the maturing period is shorter than red. White miso flavour is sweeter and more mild than red miso paste so it is often used for salad dressing, for glazing such as miso dengaku like Nasu dengaku, and Onigiri Miso Butter or for baking and sweets such as Miso caramel.
Red miso paste is matured longer than white so that the flavour is bolder and intense and the colour is much darker than white miso paste. Red miso paste is used for miso soup, noodle soup such as miso ramen, and miso nikomi udon, and for fish dishes such as Saba misoni because it will remove the fish smell.
Two regionally special sweet Miso
Sikyo miso on the left is Kyoto’s special sweet miso and it is often used for glazing fish and meat when grilling. Those dishes are called “Saikyo yaki” and are famous in Kyoto.
Kinzanji miso is Wakayama prefecture’s (where I am from) special sweet eating miso and this is my favourite. This miso is not for making miso soup or anything but for eating it as it is. It contains other ingredients like ginger, eggplants, and Shiso leaves. I buy this every time I go back to my hometown. (right on the photo above)
Many types of miso are available in Australia nowadays; you can even purchase instant miso soup packets from local supermarkets. But, making your own homemade miso paste is way better. It is not hard to make, it only requires a few ingredients and a little patience as it takes about 6 months to mature (but if you can not wait like me, you can start to use it after 3 months). It is totally worth the effort and wait!!
Making the miso takes about two days. The first day, you need to prepare the miso for fermenting; the soybeans need to be soaked for at least 18 hours, making sure that there is no core leftover to soak. The next day, it needs to be cooked by either using a pressure cooker, which I did because you can make the process faster, or simmering for 3-4 hours. You need to cook the soybeans so that they are soft enough that you can squash a bean with your finger tips.
The ratio of soybeans, koji, and salt determines the flavour of your miso. I like mild and sweeter miso so I used this online calculator tool to figure out how much I should use of each (sorry, it is in Japanese so you may need to use an online translator to use this tool). The more Koji that is used, the sweeter the miso gets. Once you have prepared it, you have to keep it somewhere dark and cool and wait patiently for at least 3 months. The best season to prepare Miso is winter because in winter, it will not become over fermented and the temperature is best to ferment slowly.
I am lucky enough that there is a Japanese lady making rice koji and is selling it in Brisbane, but if you don’t have any stores nearby which sell Rice Koji, you can buy them online. After 3 months, you need to mix them in order to oxidise the miso and if you found mold around it, don’t panic. It is OK, just scrape it and transfer the miso into a different container to store. After 3 months, you can remove the weight and keep it somewhere cool. Here is a mini movie of how to make miso. Enjoy!
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how to make miso paste homemade recipe.
This recipe makes about 1kg of miso paste
- 200 g dry soybean
- 450 g rice koji
- 130 g salt
- 1/2 cup the water soybean cooked in
- 2 tbs salt for sprinkle
Wash the dry soybeans under running water.
Soak the washed dry soybeans for over 18 hours
After over 18 hours have passed, drain the water and place the soaked soybeans in a pressure cooker. *1
Add enough water to cover the soybeans, lock on the lid in place and select pressure cooker. *2
Set the timer to pressure cook for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes is up, let the pressure come down naturally.
While the soybean is being cooked, place salt and koji in a mixing bowl and combine them well and set aside.
Pick one bean and check if you can squish the bean with your finger tips. If it can be squished, it is the right softness to mash.
Mash the cooked soybean. I used a stand mixer with a mincer attachment, but if you don't have it, just use a potato masher and mash them finely.
Place the mashed soybean in a large mixing bowl while it is still hot and add koji and salt to the bowl. *3
Mix them well with your hands and add some liquid if necessary. I add about 1/2 cup of liquid.
Make the mashed soybeans into baseball sized balls.
Slam the mashed soybean mixture balls into a container that is going to be used for fermenting 2-3 balls at a time and press them compactly in order to let any air bubbles out. Repeat the process until all soybean balls are compressed into the container.
Smoothe the surface and wipe off any soybean mash from the container.
Sprinkle salt to cover the surface.
Place 20% of the mixtures weight over the salt sprinkled surface. I used salt in a ziplock bag. *4
Cover the container with cling wrap and place a lid.
Store the container in dark and cool place for at least 3 months. Write the date prepared on the lid.
After 3 months, open the lid, remove the weight and turn the mixture with an wooden spatula.
Smooth the surface again and place a cling wrap on top.
Place the container back to a dark and cool place for another 2-3 months.
After 2-3 months, transfer the container to a cooler place like the fridge in order to stop the Miso from over fermenting. *5
*1. I used an InstaPot. If you don't have any pressure cooker, add water just enough to cover the soybean. Bring it to boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for 3-4 hours.
*2. I add 3 cups of water to cook.
*3. The soybeans need to be mashed while they are still hot, but make sure when you add the koji, the mashed soybean temperature is below 40 degree.
*4. This recipe will make about 1 kg of Miso so the 20% weight is about 200g.
*5. I empty and transfer the miso to a different container to keep in my fridge as the fermenting container was big. If you have enough space in your fridge, you don't need to replace the container.