Making miso paste is my holiday project. I always wanted to make my own miso paste, just like my grandmother back in Japan. When I was young, we were often sent to grandmother’s house with an air tight container to get miso. We never bought miso from shops.
Since I migrated to Australia, I have been buying miso paste from a shop and have been desperate to learn how to make my own. School holidays have just started here in Queensland so I have two weeks to upgrade my cooking skills. I found a making miso paste workshop held at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Before I attended the workshop, I made sure that the workshop was run by a “real” Japanese person. I wanted to learn authentic miso preparation principles. My aim was to be able to make Miso using any types of beans and rice koji – just like my grandmother.
The miso paste making workshop was held at lovely Sunspace cafe located on the Sunshine coast near Noosa Heads. It was a 1 hour and half minutes drive from Brisbane but it was worth the drive to learn at this beautiful and relaxing location. The instructor, Mr Oishi, was young and enthusiastic. He used to teach Maths and Science at the local state high school, but now he is the Manager at the Northey Street Brisbane city farm.
There are many different types of Miso: red, white, mixed, haccho, etc. At this workshop, Mr.Oishi taught us miso paste making principles rather than one particular recipe. This means that we can make our own Miso at home using different types of beans and rice koji. I found this workshop was particularly helpful because Mr.Oishi transferred the knowledge he gained from experimenting with the ingredients available in Australia. In this post therefore, I am going to share the principles and process rather than a recipe and will share a recipe after I experiment with my own paste. This will be in three months time because that is how long the miso paste fermentation process will take.
I am very interested in Koji and fermented food. Japanese people consume a lot of fermented food. For example, foods like miso and natto (fermented soy beans), Koji products like Amazake and yoghurt (even though this food is not originated in Japan) are often eaten in Japan. I believe this might be the secret of Japanese women’s beauty and longevity. I am not going to list all health benefits of miso in this post. Let’s get to the making miso principles. First, you need a good book. Mr Oishi introduced us to the book he calls his making miso paste bible, The book of Tofu & Miso. I have ordered a copy on line. Also one ingredient you may need to get from Japan is Koji powder. I bought a small amount from Mr.Oishi (see picture below).
The main ingredients are salt, rice (Mr.Oishi said glutinous white rice is the easiest), dry soy beans, koji powder and mature miso paste. The equipment you need is a wooden spatula, a thermometer, a baker’s tray, a cheese cloth, a hot water bottle, blanket, bricks and food grade buckets.
Mr.Oishi gave us a small bucket of the sample we made at the workshop. I will report how it turned out in three months time and supply a more detailed recipe. I think my grandmother would be happy.