I have something to do: Miso making.
According to the weather report on Feb. 21, it's going to be warm this weekend, which urged me to go to Kobayashi Fungus factory located in a 10 minutes car ride from my house. I bought 1kg of soybeans and 2kg of brown rice fungus.
Right after I returned home, I washed soybeans and soaked them for 18 hours.
Ingredients of about 5kg of miso:
1kg of dry soybeans
2kg of brown rice fungus (玄米糀)
500g of salt
about 40g of salt for sprinkle
Next day I worked hard from morning till evening to make miso.
After I pressure-cooked, I simmered soybeans on low heat for 6 hours. I used to simmer them for about 9 hours in a pan on very low heat, which is a very old way but worth doing because soybeans get very soft, absorbing a lot of water.
I often got rid of bubbles and topped up the water to ensure the soybeans stay submerged during the process.
I picked one soybean to check up if it's soft enough to be mashed. And it was easily crushed with my tips, which meant ready to be mashed.
After I started simmering soybeans, I dipped a clean cloth into Shochu or a strong alcoholic drink such as vodka, sanitized every inch of the container's inside and the lid, and got them thoroughly dried. You can't skip this procedure to reduce the risk of contamination.
While the soybeans were being simmered, I separated fungus and put salt on the fungus to mix them well with hands. I set it aside. ①
I put the simmered soybeans into a plastic bag and mashed them finely with a rolling pin. (You'll use a food processor or a potato masher.)
I mixed the still-warm mashed soybeans and ①(fungus ＋ salt) in a large mixing bowl with hands.
As a starter I put 200g of miso which I made last year and mixed them well. This one-year-old miso contributes to boost the fermentation. Then I made the paste into tennis-ball-sized balls and squeezed them tightly,
and transferred several balls at a time into the container and pressed and flattened them to get rid of the air bubbles. I repeated the process until the paste was entirely in the container and I sprinkled salt and place a layer of plastic wrap on the surface. (I used a plastic bag inside the container but you may probably say it's unnecessary!) I put a weight of 3kg (2kg is preferable) on the paste.
The right on the photo above is one-year-old red miso paste.
I covered the container with a sheet of newspaper with the date and the amount of soybeans, fungus, and salt written on it.
I store the container in dark and cool place for up to 12 months to allow the paste to ferment. In May I need to mix the paste in order to oxidize it and I remove the weight as well.
I usually start using miso after one year has passed, which is called red miso paste. It is matured than white miso paste of six months old and has bolder and more intense flavor.
Miso is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
⁂ I cook miso soup with a lot of vegetables and sea weeds every day. Any vegetable in season and miso goes well. I like tomatoes and mushrooms in the miso soup.
⁂I often marinate white meat fish in the flavored miso paste (4 tbs of miso, 2 tbs of mirin, 1 tbs of soy sauce, and 2tbs of sugar) for several days in the refrigerator and grill the fillet of the fish after slightly wiping off the miso paste.
Since I've made miso for nearly twenty years, I can't welcome the spring without making miso. If you make miso once, you'll want to make it more and more. Good luck!