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Step-by-step Guide: How to Make Akamiso 赤味噌 Red Miso

Red Akamiso 赤味噌 Miso is one of the darkest, most flavourful misos. It is typically aged for over a year to produce a rich paste, packed with umami flavours. It’s generally used for marinades or glazes, but it’s strength means a little goes a long way!

The long fermentation time means that a higher salt content (around 13%) is needed. It is also beneficial to make a larger volume than you would for the sweeter misos – smaller volumes may not ferment as well and if you have to wait a year for it to be ready you don’t want to run out of miso once you’ve discovered how delicious it is!

This recipe is for the smallest volume I recommend, although you can multiply it up to create larger amounts, as desired.

When aging misos for a longer period it is also important to put a weight on top of the miso as it matures. This should weigh at least 500g (25% of the weight of the miso being made). This weight will press out any air pockets which form during fermentation, minimising the risk of mold growth. 

The taste can be too overpowering for some recipes, so it is often mixed with sweet white miso to produce a blend known as awase miso. 

 

Note: Traditionally soybeans are used to make miso, but as I’m allergic to soy I’ve use fava beans.

Step-by-step Guide: How to Make Akamiso 赤味噌 Red Miso

Red Akamiso 赤味噌 Miso is one of the darkest most flavourful misos. It is typically aged for over a year to produce a rich paste, packed with umami flavours.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
365 d
Total Time365 d 2 hrs
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: fermented, Koji, miso, soya beans
Servings: 180 10g
Calories: 56kcal
Cost: £20

Equipment

  • 2 litre jar
  • Saucepan
  • Bowl
  • A weight for the top of the miso

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Wash the beans, removing any remaining pieces of shell
  • When the water runs clear, cover and leave the beans to soak in cold water for at least 6 hours
  • The beans will almost double in volume. Place beans in a saucepan with fresh water and simmer gently until cooked. This will take about 45 minutes for fava beans or 2 hours for soybeans.
    Alternatively: A darker colour miso can be achieved if the beans are steamed, instead of boiled.
  • Drain the beans in a colander, saving the bean cooking water for use later.
  • Mash the beans. If you like a smooth miso you can pulse them in a food processor. I prefer a chunky miso (which I can blend to a smooth paste, if a specific recipe requires it, once the miso is ready) Some people also like to put the mixture through a meat grinder, to produce a well mixed paste. All methods will produce a delicious miso!
  • Add the salt and mix in.
  • Once the beans have cooled to less than 40'C (if you haven't got a thermometer wait until the beans feel the same temperature as your skin - or cooler) stir in the koji.
  • Now try to form the mixture into a ball. At this stage it will probably be too dry and fall apart.
  • Slowly add the cooled bean water that you saved earlier. Mix well and stop as soon as the mixture can be formed into a ball.
    Note: If you've forgotten to save the bean water you can used cooled boiled water.
  • Get a clean 2 litre jar/crock. Moisten a clean paper towel with bean water and rub a small amount of salt all over the inside - this will help to prevent mold from growing at the edges.
  • Press the bean mixture into the jar, one layer at a time. Try to remove as many air bubbles as you can.
  • Once all the mixture is in the jar, wipe the edges with a clean paper towel.
    Lightly sprinkle the surface with salt and then cover with cling film.
    Find a plate or jar that fits inside your crock and then place weights on top of it. These will continually press down on the miso, removing air pockets as they form.
  • Leave the miso in a cool, dry place for a year. Then enjoy!
    The miso can be matured for longer than a year, it will become darker and deeper in flavour the longer it is left.
    Note: The miso in the picture has been blended to a smooth paste.

Notes

Traditionally soybeans are used to make miso, but as I'm allergic to soy I've use fava beans.
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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
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. 
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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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What is koji?

Koji is the term for a grain or bean that has been inoculated with Aspergillus Oryzae, a special fungus that has been domesticated for about 9000 years. 

White Rice Koji is made by steaming white rice and then allowing spores of Aspergillus Oryzae to germinate and multiply on it. 

This process is carefully controlled to ensure conditions are perfect for koji growth, with both temperature and humidity monitored continually. The fungus then converts starch within the rice into a range of enzymes, which go on to create the delicious range of savoury/umami flavours within foods like miso and soy sauce.

Before being packaged, the koji is gently dried to preserve it,  and it is then delivered to fermented food enthusiasts around the world!

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Miso

4 types of Koji

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.

This recipe 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.

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

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

  • 500 g Soya or fava beans dried and hulled
  • 1 packet Umami Chef Koji
  • 62 g Salt non-iodised

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 motnhs. 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