This post is a bit after the fact, but I wanted to update on my Sweet Yellow Eyed Bean Miso, with the exciting news that it is, in fact, possible to make miso at home. And, aside from a little patience, there’s almost no special skill required!
Six weeks after I packed my pureed beans, koji rice
and salt into a jar (and put it away in a dark, cool spot so I would stop obsessively checking it), I pulled it out from the cupboard and found something that looked… well… a bit funky.
I’d read that some mold on top of fermenting miso is perfectly normal, and as long as it is white or blue (and not pink or some other scary color) the mold can be discarded and the miso underneath is perfectly fine to eat. While there were a few white flecks on the surface, it was difficult to tell if it was mold to be discarded or just the koji doing it’s work (and would have been quite difficult to scrape away without getting quite a bit of miso paste as well). So I took a chance and let it be.
I packed my miso into mason jars and snuck a spoonful. Mildly sweet, a little salty, and packed with savory umami – pretty amazing what those little koji spores can do with no assistance other than time.
A few days later, I made a 3 cups of a quick dashi (some kombu seaweed steeped in barely simmering water for about 30 minutes, then removed), and used a few tablespoons of the liquid (warm, but not boiling) to puree about 4 tablespoons of miso. The koji rice makes the miso paste chunky, which was the form miso traditionally took before it became commercialized, so it has to be pureed before use in something like a broth-y soup. I rehydrated some hijiki seaweed in my dashi and, just before serving, took the pot off the heat and stirred in julienned carrots, sliced scallions, and the pureed miso paste – you want to add this in at the last possible minute because high heat would kill the beneficial bacteria in the miso.
In a bowl with a poached egg, this made for the most beautiful bowl of soup on a rainy day. My only lament is that I did not make more – now I know why most of the miso how-to’s call for making a 5 gallon batch or more. If you can get your hands on koji rice and have the patience to stash a jug or two away for a few weeks, you will be delighted and rewarded with a miso paste that is lush and complex after almost no effort at all. I can’t wait to experiment with a longer ferment for stronger flavors and playing with different types of beans and amounts of salt to see what happens.