Miso paste is an ancient Japanese preparation with origins dating back almost a thousand years. The pungent fermented food has an acquired taste, but is extremely healthy as an addition to many popular Japanese dishes.
We wrote about making Miso earlier in the year in our blog post here.
We also produced a step-by-step guide to making DIY Miso paste for those interested in having a shot at making it at home themselves.
With our DIY paste having quietly sat in a cool place for almost half a year, it is about to enter a new Summer phase of fermentation. It was therefore time to re-visit our DIY Miso paste to give it a good thorough mixing to help aerate and redistribute the fermentation culture to ensure development of a rich and consistent taste.
Our home Miso paste project was started in late Winter, which we timed so that ingredients and base flavors had a chance to soak together and spread evenly throughout the entire mixture before Summer heat arrived. The next Summer phase however, is when the real added flavor and character of the Miso develops. As the temperature rises, the fermentation culture kicks into overdrive.
In this particular case, we used a home DIY Miso project kit supplied by a well known Miso and Soy bean supply company based in South Western Honshu, Japan. This was due to our desire to develop a specific taste by using specific ingredients sourced from the Fukui Prefecture region. (If we simply wanted to produce excellent results fermenting a generic Miso flavor, the ingredients could have easily been sourced from supermarkets, or Asian food supply outlets if living internationally. A far cheaper option for the relatively common ingredients.)
In opening our fermentation container after six months, we would normally expect to see at least some discoloration and mold build-up over the surface of the preparation. But on this occasion, perhaps due to the extraordinarily cool weather this year, our crushed Soy bean mixture looked very similar to how it was during initial preparation. Moist and only lightly colored. The fermented taste however, was already developing.
Often, fermentation can lead to large buildups of moldy looking growths on the top of the preparation. This is usually not a concern, because as in blue vein cheese production, the correct molds are important in developing the richness of taste. If growth is excessive in any preparation before mixing, all or some of the mold (depending on the desired taste in the final Miso paste) can usually be scraped away and discarded leaving only the fresher looking contents for mixing.
We used a clean wooden spoon to gently mix the aging Soy bean ingredients within the bucket. This ensured that the developing tastes of all Soy bean, salt and Kōji (ie: yeast) culture was effectively blended and re-aerated.
Since we are aiming for a smooth and consistent character in our blend, it was important to scrap around the edges and bottom of the bucket to ensure there were no remaining clumps of poorly mixed Soy bean. (Although in some preparations, ingredients are often intentionally left only roughly mixed to help develop a chunkier Miso paste character.)
The bucket was then once again “loosely sealed” with plastic wrap, a compression weight and the wooden “lid” as it was the first time, and then covered and tied with newspaper and string to prevent contamination by dust or insects. The bucket was then placed back into the same unrefrigerated, dark, well aired storage space it came from ready for the Summer.
In this instance, we are happy to say that our “mixing event” was somewhat of a non-event. Our culture was extremely clean and the Miso was developing well.
See you in another four to six months for the final mix and first tastings of our home made, DIY Miso paste!
***** Update – Mission Complete! *****
(Update — 2015, December 2 – Mission Complete! )
Mission complete! See the end result of our home DIY Miso paste fermentation project. It was a complete success and we made extremely tasty Japanese miso.