Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Big Project

I've been blazing through a Japanese food phase.  I love the simple flavors, and many of the preparations are simple, approachable, and outstandingly yummy.
Of course the questions that naturally follow - for me anyways - are,"How can I create this food from my farmers market? How can I make these ingredients from scratch - cutting out the "middleman"?"
Blah, blah, blah . . .
Fast forward, I'm staring at a cabinet full of dried beans from the farmers market.  Purchased with the good intention of making my own miso.  As with many other projects, I do not fully research the process until I am part of the way into it.
It turns out red miso takes at least 12-18 months to be fully ready, and many miso makers will leave it to develop for much longer.  [There is sweet white miso that is ready after 3-6 months] Miso making is an ancient process refined by skilled artisans; or the "middlemen" in this scenario.  It turns out they're there for a reason in some cases.

Nevertheless, I'm diving in head first in this one.  After fairly extensive, if late, research - I settled on  this book for guidance. 
Despite the 80's workout theme, this is an awesome book.  It has guided me through many funky smelling endeavors.

The process is simple . . . 
The beans are soaked overnight and boiled until they are soft.  They are then ground to the desired consistency, salted, and mixed with the koji - an inoculated grain - and finally packed away in a vessel to ferment of their own accord. 

From left to right, vinton soy beans, adzuki beans, and black soy beans.

Koji is an inoculated grain, rice in this case, used to spur the fermentation process.

The cooked vinton soy beans, cooked, partially ground and mixed with the koji.

The miso in its pots, where it will chillax for the next 18 months.
Check back in in 18 months to see how this whole thing turns out.
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