Aaah, the crispness of winter fills the air as we lift our heads up to see what the New Year will bring! Now the holidays are coming to an end, it is time to step into the rhythm of a New Year and with it the hope and possibility of something different.
We enjoy the creativity that arises by being inside and looking for indoor entertainment. We frequently find ourselves in the kitchen, playing with new ideas and improving upon favorite recipes.
Tapping into the creativity helps to stimulate a feeling of freshness during the winter months when the days are dark. This process is a beautiful reminder of the gradually increasing light now that the winter solstice has passed.
Winter is the perfect time to begin a new batch of miso, a traditional condiment from Japan that is a fermented soybean paste. Traditionally, miso is prepared and stored during the winter months. At this time of year, the air has fewer bacteria and yeast particles to be absorbed by the beans.
Similar to cheeses, miso has different flavor profiles depending on the terroir of the region. Depending on the region the miso is made in, there will be a unique quality present in the finished product.
Yeasts are classified as funghi and are used around the world in fermentation (think sourdough bread!). The natural lactobacillus bacteria provide enzymes for healthy digestion. These probiotics when consumed on a regular basis create a strong and health gut!
Miso is made with soybeans, koji, salt and water. Koji is made from rice or soybeans and has been inoculated with a mold that assists the fermentation process. In the photo below, the koji is being mixed by hand into the cooked and mashed soybeans.
The speed of fermentation changes with the season. When the weather is cold, the process is slower. In the warmer months, things speed up. According to this approach, the seasons are used to count the time spent in fermentation. Each summer is considered one round.
So, if a miso is started in January, the first year is counted at the end of that year’s summer months. The three year old miso pictured above has passed through three summers and is ready to harvest!
Noodle Soup with Vegetables and Red Miso
10 shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 ½ c. mixed chopped vegetables (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
½ c. corn
¼ c. Sugi Garden Red Miso
½ c. wakame seaweed
7 c. water
½ c. bonito flakes
3- 4 oz. white stick Chinese noodles
- Bring water to boil in large soup pot.
- Add cut vegetables and simmer until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from water with slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add mushrooms and onions and simmer for 10 minutes, remove with slotted spoon.
- Put seaweed in a bowl, ladle hot broth to fill the bowl and soak for 10 minutes.
- Pour bonito into large pot of hot broth. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain through mesh strainer into a large bowl. Squeeze bonito to remove all liquid. Return broth to soup pot.
- Bring broth to boil and add noodles. Simmer until noodles are soft.
- Put cooked vegetables and seaweed in soup pot with noodles.
- Put miso in a bowl and add a ladle of broth to stir it into a thick paste.
- Turn off heat under soup pot and stir in miso. Serve.
We now have this lovely Red Miso for sale. The larger 1 lb. jar is $10 and the 8 oz. jar is $6. Contact us to get yours today. Pick up in Pleasant Hill or ask us about shipping.