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The Ultimate Guide to Making Miso Soup

Miso soup originates from Japan. It’s a delicious savoury soup, rich in vitamins and minerals. It can be made as quickly as a cup of tea, or in under 2 hours – if you desire the ultimate, authentic taste.

In its simplest form miso consists of two ingredients: dashi and miso paste.

Dashi 

Dashi a stock used in Japanese cookery. It is normally made from kombu (a type of seaweed), mushrooms (shitake are used most frequently) and katsuobushi (dried, fermented tuna) but it can made from just one or two of these ingredients. 

Miso Paste

Miso paste is traditionally made from soybeans, salt and koji. There are thousands of different types of miso in Japan, but you’ll normally only find one or two in the UK.

Miso paste (note: the words miso and miso paste are used interchangeably and refer to the same thing) can be bought from most supermarkets. If you’d like to try a greater range of misos you can visit Japan – or buy Umami Chef koji and use it to make your own miso! It’s really easy – you just mix cooked beans with salt and koji and then leave it to mature for as little as 10 days. You can make miso from any bean and experiment with different flavours. This means that you can enjoy miso, even if you’re avoiding soy beans, as homemade miso can be made with fava beans, cannellini beans, or even lentils! Find out more about making miso on my miso page.

Any miso can be used to make a soup – a sweet white miso (like my 10-day miso) makes a light creamy drink; whilst a dark, rich miso makes a more savory soup, which can be easily turned into a meal by the addition of vegetables, tofu and noodles.

The easiest way to make miso soup

You can make miso soup very quickly by using a shop bought stock – any stock will produce a lovely, warming drink.

Simply make up the stock using the directions on the packet, then stir a heaped teaspoon of miso paste into each mug. 

A range of stocks suitable for making miso soup

 

For a more authentic taste, use instant dashi stocks from Japan. These can be bought in many Asian supermarkets or online (just search for “dashi stock”). Occasionally larger supermarkets also have dashi stock, but these can be expensive.

Note: Most dashi stocks contain fish, but the green one on the right is suitable for vegans.

A range of dashi stocks that can be used to make miso soup

 

Making Dashi From Scratch

The ultimate, authentic dashi is made from scratch.

The essential ingredients for dashi: kombu, shitake mushrooms and katsuobushi flakes

 

  1. Add 20g of kombu to 1 litre warm water and leave to soak. For the perfect dashi the temperature should be held just below 60C for 40 minutes (bitter notes can form if the temperature rises above 60’c).
  2. Remove the kombu and add 40g dried, chopped shitake mushrooms. Simmer gently for an hour.
  3. Remove the mushrooms, then gently stir in 10g of katsuobushi flakes.
  4. Leave for a couple of minutes then strain through a sieve.

Your dashi is now ready to use!

The Ultimate Miso Soup

The best miso soup is made by selecting about 40g of the freshest vegetables and lightly cooking them in 2 cups of dashi.  Popular choices for vegetables in Japan include daikon radish, leeks, seaweed and cabbage, but anything can be used. A few cubes of tofu can also be added. 

Once the vegetables are tender, stir in about 1 tablespoon of miso then transfer directly to a bowl. Enjoy!

 

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Shio Koji

Shio koji is a special marinade that provides three major functions in cookery:

  • Salt consumption is reduced
  • Meat becomes more tender
  • A rich umami (savoury) flavour is produced

Reduce Your Salt Intake

Add shio koji to almost any food as an alternative to salt. If you replace one teaspoon of salt in your recipe with two teaspoons of shio koji your food will taste just as salty, but you will only be using 10% of the salt. 

A high salt diet can raise blood pressure and lead to coronary heart disease and stroke. The NHS recommend that adults should not eat more than 6g of salt a day – this is around a teaspoon. Any steps you take to reduce your salt intake is beneficial for your health. 

Meat becomes more tender

The enzymes present in shio koji have the ability to break down proteins, which makes meat more tender. Marinade any meat (chicken and white fish are especially good) overnight in a thin coating of shio koji and it will be transformed to another level!

Rich Umami Flavour

Shio koji contains protease which has the ability to transform protein into a range of amino acids. This creates a depth of savoury flavour that tastes delicious! It also contains amylase, which performs a similar function on starches; this makes carbohydrate rich food taste sweeter. To improve the flavour of dishes it is best to leave shio koji to ferment for one week before using. 

Shio Koji

Shio Koji is a special marinade that can reduce your salt consumption
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Ferment7 d
Total Time7 d 5 mins
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Koji, shio koji
Servings: 4
Calories: 361kcal

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients together
  • Blend to form a smooth paste
  • Use immediately, or for a deeper flavour, leave in a clean jar at room temperature to ferment for one week. 

Video

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Green Lentil Miso

Green lentil miso adds a beautiful, earthy umami flavour to dishes. It is perfect in simple soups and stews, but goes especially well with ones containing coconut milk.

Green Lentil Miso

An earthier, soya-free miso
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Ferment180 d
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: green lentils, Koji, miso
Servings: 10 50g
Calories: 71kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 packet Umami Chef Koji
  • 300 g cooked green lentils (use drained, canned lentils or cook 150g dried green lentils)

  • 35 g salt

Instructions

  • Ensure that all your equipment is very clean. Running it through a dishwasher is the easiest way to ensure cleanliness, but jars could also be placed in an oven at 90’C for 20 minutes, if a dishwasher is unavailable
  • Cool the cooked green lentils to room temperature
  • In a large bowl, mix the koji, lentils and salt
  • Massage them together for a minute or two, so the lentils release some liquid
  • Squash the mixture into a jar, trying not to leave any pockets of air
  • Wipe any stray miso from the walls of the jar
  • Sprinkle a fine layer of salt on the surface, to prevent mold from forming
  • Cut a piece of greaseproof paper or cling film to fit over the surface and then weigh down with a glass weight (a small jar filled with water that fits inside your big jar is perfect!)
  • Cover with a t-towel, to prevent flies from entering
  • Leave to ferment at room temperature for 6 months
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Warm Broccoli Salad with a Hazelnut and Miso Dressing

Sweet white miso (for example, 10 Day Miso) is perfect in salad dressings – it adds a depth of flavour that brings dishes to life.  I’ve chosen hazelnuts, as they’re in season at the moment, but all nuts work well in this warming autumnal salad.

Warm Broccoli and Hazelnut Salad with a maple, hazelnut and miso dressing

Warm Broccoli and Hazelnut Salad with a maple, hazelnut and miso dressing
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Fusion
Keyword: broccoli, hazelnut, Koji, maple syrup, miso, vegan
Servings: 2
Calories: 354kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/4 red cabbage chopped
  • 250 g broccoli chopped

For the dressing

  • 50 g hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp grated garlic
  • 2 tbsp sweet white miso
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

Instructions

  • Gently fry the onion until it softens.
  • Add the cabbage and broccoli to the pan and continue frying until cooked.
  • Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and whizz until smooth.
  • If you prefer the dressing to be thinner, add a little water until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Drizzle the dressing onto the salad.
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Amazake

Amazake

Amazake is a traditional Japanese drink made from koji. It can be drunk ice cold in Summer, or gently heated to provide a delicious warm drink in Winter.

It has recently been labeled as a super food due to it’s high nutritional content – including complex B vitamins and all the amino acids the body needs. It also contains oligosaccharide, a prebiotic important for gut health. 

 

Amazake

A nutritious drink which can be enjoyed ice cold in Summer, or gently warmed in Winter
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time18 hrs
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: koji, drink, japanese, vegan, healthy
Servings: 4
Calories: 320kcal

Equipment

  • Yogurt Maker

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients together and then pour into a yoghurt maker, set at 60°C
  • Leave for 18 hours
  • Enjoy!

Notes

Amazake will keep in the fridge for about 7 days or can be frozen for a longer life.
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Miso

There are thousands of different recipes for miso –  ranging from warm yellow misos that can be made in a few weeks; to rich, dark misos that take several years to mature.

If you want to leave a miso to mature for a long time, it generally requires a higher salt content ~ 12-15%; whilst short ferments are typically 6-8% salt.

10 Day Miso 

This recipe (at the bottom of this page) is the perfect place to start your miso making journey – it is one of the easiest misos to make and will be ready in just 10 days. It’s perfect in soups, salad dressing – or to add an extra hit of umami to virtually any dish. Ready to eat in 10 days

Once you’ve mastered this, you can move on to experiment with different flavours or experience the joy of tasting a miso that you’ve waited many months, or even years, to enjoy!:

Green lentil miso Adds a beautiful, earthy umami flavour to dishes. It is perfect in simple soups and stews, but goes especially well with ones containing coconut milk. Ready to eat in 4 months

Red lentil miso Probably the quickest miso to make, as lentils take far less time to cook than beans. This miso has a mild, sweet flavour that works especially well in soups and salad dressings. Ready to eat in 4 months

Blue pea miso Very different from traditional misos. This sweet miso makes a soup that tastes just like a British Green Pea soup. Ready to eat in 10 days

Red miso Rich, deeply savoury miso that is best used for marinades, glazes or soup. It is very strong, so use sparingly. Ready to eat in 1 year +

 

Before making any miso, ensure that all your equipment is very clean. Running it through a dishwasher is the easiest way to ensure cleanliness, but jars could also be placed in an oven at 90’C for 20 minutes, if a dishwasher is unavailable.

10 Day Miso

A miso made from soya beans that ferments in just 10 days
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Fermentation Time10 d
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Koji, soya beans
Servings: 100 10g servings
Calories: 200kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the beans in a bowl and add 1 litre of water. Cover and leave to soak in the fridge overnight.
    Soya beans soaking in water
  • Drain the beans and transfer them to a large pan. Cover with water and bring to the boil; then reduce the temperature, add a lid, and simmer until the beans are soft. NOTE: This takes about 45 minutes for fava beans, but may take several hours for soya beans. 
  • When the beans are cooked, pour them into a colander and drain. 
  • If you’d like a smooth miso, blend the beans with a hand-held blender or food processor.
    If you prefer a chunky miso, roughly mash the beans with a fork.
  • Once the beans have reached a consistency you’re happy with, leave to cool.
  • Mix in the packet of koji and 60g of salt.
  • Form the miso into small balls. If the balls crack they are too dry, so will need a little bit more water mixed in. 
  • Squash the balls into a clean jar, ensuring all pockets of air are removed. 
  • Once all the miso has been squashed into the jar, sprinkle the surface with the remaining 2g salt. Then cover and transfer to a warm place (25-30'C) for 10 days.
    Soya bean miso
  • After 10 days, gently scrape the salt from the surface and taste the miso. If it is the required strength, transfer to a fridge and enjoy! It will keep in a fridge for several months. If you prefer the miso a bit stronger (or the temperature has been lower than 25'C) then replace the salt topping and leave for another few days.

Notes

Non-iodised salt, is a salt that does not contain additives which may inhibit fermentation

You can get all the ingredients and a handy step-by-step guide for this recipe in our Miso Making gift set