Miso variation

Having fun.

From left to right in the photo…

1. White Miso (Shiro Miso)

Typically light beige in color. Flavor of rice koji comes forward with this variety, milder, sweeter and fruitier than others. Highest rice koji content and shorter fermentation period of about a month. Probably easiest to use in the American kitchen. Fermented with soybeans, rice koji, salt.

Most notably eaten around Kyoto, Japan’s old capital. Sequoia Sake’s Noriko grew up with this miso. Her mother used to make it.

2. Yellow Miso (Shinshu Miso)

Typically beige to golden brown in color. Nuttier and earthier than white miso, with pleasant acid. Caramel flavors are starting to develop. Medium rice koji content, 6 months fermentation. This is the most widely sold miso in Japan. Fermented with soybeans, rice koji, salt.

This is the most widely sold miso in Japan. However, every Japanese has her particular kind of local miso deeply ingrained in the palate, so common does not mean standard. I grew up in Tokyo, Japan’s new capital, with this miso. For me, miso was always store bought until I started making my own.

3. Baja Berkeley Apple Miso

Apples and miso is a divine combination. Once the flavors meld, it is hard to taste where the fruit end and the miso begin. Fermented with soybeans, rice koji, apples, muscovado sugar, and salt.

This batch was made with the fruits of a tree from my neighbor’s yard in South Berkeley. The plant has not been treated with pesticide, the soil has been lightly if ever fertilized, as far as I know. Miso with additional ingredients is called name-miso and eaten in small amounts with rice, or as an accompaniment to sake.

4. Jalapeño and Meyer Lemon Miso

Light, mild, with green pepper freshness and loads of umami. Fermented with soybeans, rice koji, jalapeño peppers, Meyer lemons and salt.

I wanted to make another name-miso with Californian ingredients. Once it was tweaked to satisfaction, It turns out that the flavor combination resembled yuzu-kosho, a powerful traditional condiment made from yuzu citrus, fresh green peppers and salt. So, this became a Californian miso that can trace its linage to Japan. Originality is over-rated!

5. Miso-mayo

Take two things already in your fridge, mix them up and you have an entirely new flavor. Great as a dip or a sandwich spread, or with anything. Miso fermented with soybeans, rice koji, salt, mixed with store bought mayo.

Japanese izakaya often serve this miso mix alongside cut fresh vegetables. Sprinkle some shichimi-togarashi (spice mix) to give it a bigger kick.

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