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Making Miso – The Spiritual Journey

The soybean is an incredible, beautiful thing.

This is something that I only really appreciated once I came to Japan and ate the food here.

Soybeans to Japanese people are like corn is to Americans, in that Japanese people eat soybeans in some form or another in almost every meal. Soybeans can be processed to make soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, kinako, natto…and miso.

Most of these soy products are things that modern-day people would never think to make, but how hard would it be to try? Why buy when you could just make it yourself?

Never thought about it? Don’t feel bad, I don’t think the thought has occurred to most people, in even Japan (and they even use large amounts of the stuff).

Anyway, this is my second year making miso, and I thought I should share some photos and the process with you. It might be enlightening to all you DIY-lovers.
 
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It all starts with daizu, “soybeans.” These are actually harvested by the group, a group of city people that want to experience the excitement of farming things like soybeans. These are harvested after drying out the soybean plant. The raw, undried state of soybeans are edamame.
 
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These are the main players: freshly boiled up soybeans, the water we boiled the beans in, and a huge mixture of salt and kouji. Kouji is a mold culture that will make the fermentation happen. It will make your miso slightly different depending on what grain you use. We used brown rice, white rice, and wheat kouji to make 3 different varieties of miso.
 
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You take the boiled beans and proceed to make “bean spaghetti.” YUM.

Let the spaghetti cool.
 
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After the bean spaghetti cools to below 40 degrees Celsius, mixed it into the salt and kouji. Pour the leftover water from cooking the beans into it until it becomes dough-like in texture.
 
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Whip out your trusty terracotta pot (you don’t have one?!). Make mini hamburgers out of your bean mixture and make sure everything gets in the pot with as few air bubbles as possible. Cover the top with a dusting of salt and cling-wrap it like there is no tomorrow.

Then let it sit for about a year in a cellar, or somewhere cool.

Wanna see the actual finished product? Well, we opened last year’s batch, so here is a peek:
 
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Nice, but what does the inside look like?
 
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MOOOOOOLDDD! Fear not, this is just the top. The point is not to let air in, but it seemed we had failed just a little.
 
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But! After the mold is scraped off and the top layer gone, there is nothing but beautiful, homemade miso goodness.

And that is my miso making coverage! I hope that you guys enjoyed that. Check out this site for exact numbers and measurements if you are thinking about attempting homemade miso yourself!

 

February 12  Tag:, , ,

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