Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (steamed grains that have been inoculated with koji mold or Aspergillus oryzae), sometimes added with rice, barley, or other ingredients. The result is a thick paste-like substance. Typically, miso is salty and has a natural sweetness from koji, but its flavor and aroma depend on various ingredients and fermentation processes.
It's an essential ingredient for many Japanese food dishes, and people usually mix miso with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple.
Miso contains high protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. Also, back then, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan.
Nowadays, miso is still widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining worldwide interest. Later in this article, we will share a delicious recipe for simple miso soup and homemade butter miso ramen, so keep on reading!
Find more info about Miso Soup and further refine your Japanese cooking recipes!
How to Make Miso Soup In this article, you will learn about the three indispensable ingredients in making miso soup and our best miso soup recipes! Miso soup's taste is very versatile and delicious to match with various ingredients. Let's make delicious miso soup at home! Click here to learn more >>
The Health Benefits of Miso
Miso is a rich source of copper, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin B complex, protein, and zinc.
By consuming fermented foods like miso, you add beneficial bacteria (known as probiotics) and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system. Moreover, a probiotic-rich diet may help reduce your risk of being sick and help you recover faster from infections, such as the common cold. Regularly consuming probiotic-rich foods like miso may lessen the need for infection-fighting antibiotics by up to 33%.
Probiotic-rich foods such as miso may benefit brain health by helping improve memory and reducing symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
We have summarized the potential health benefits of miso in the article below. Please read it to learn more details.
Miso and Health: Explanation from Abundant Nutrients of Miso to Its Expiration Date Miso, a seasoning that has a deep relationship with Japanese healthy eating habits. Not only delicious, but miso is also good for our health. We will explore miso's nutrients to their potential health benefits. Let's incorporate miso into our daily diet by knowing its health benefits! Click here to learn more >>
How to Make Miso
How to Make Miso
Ingredients （For approx. 2,5kg portions）
● Soybeans: 500 grams. ● Dried Rice Koji: 1 kg（In case of combined miso, use 500 gr of rice koji and 500 gr of barley koji.) ※You can also use raw malt/koji. ● Salt: 300 grams.
● Pressure cooker (or stock pot) ● Plastic bag ● Bowl ● Preparation container（container/vessel that has zipper/fastener）
In order to avoid the propagation of germs, let's wash the tools clean and properly.
Recommended Product: Handmade Miso Set - Portion for 2,5kg Miso
Let's make a 2.5 kg portion of handmade miso with this Homemade Miso Set, which consists of high-quality ingredients from Japan!
The Amount of Miso That Can Be Made and the Amount of Ingredients Used
This is the portion for miso with salt concentration 12.5% (sweet flavor).
HOW TO MAKE MISO - STEPS
There are eight steps in the miso making process.
1. Wash the soybeans. 2. Soak the soybeans in the water. 3. Boil the soybeans. 4. Mash the soybeans. 5. Mix the malt/koji and salt. 6. Add mashed soybean in the mixed koji and salt. 7. Roll the mixed soybean from step 6 into a round/ball form, then put it in the container. 8. Let it ferment for about 10 months-12 months.
Step 1, Wash the soybeans
Soil and dirt on the unwashed soybeans have tons of microorganisms that will negatively impact making miso. Put the soybeans into a bowl, then wash and rub the soybeans thoroughly in water to clean off any dirt. Be careful not to break the skin while washing the soybeans.
Step 2, Soak the soybeans in the water (for 18 hours)
Soak the washed soybeans in clean water about four times more than the soybean weight (for 500g of soybeans, use 2L of water) for 18 hours.
The soybeans will get about two times bigger after they are soaked in the water. So, please prepare a bowl that big enough.
If the soybeans are not soaked enough and have a core inside, the beans wonʼt cook evenly. Make sure to soak the beans in plenty of time.
Step 3, Boil the soybeans
Please boil the soybeans with a pressure cooker or in a pot.
If you use a pressure cooker, boil them for about 20-30 minutes. If you use a pot, boil them for about 3 hours.
Boil the soybeans until they reach the softness of easily squeezed with thumb and index finger.
Step 4, Mash the soybeans
Pour out the boiling water and put the beans into a plastic bag while itʼs hot. Mash the beans by using your hands and feet. It doesnʼt has to be mashed to a complete paste form. The remaining few whole beans wonʼt be a problem.
Be careful not to burn yourself.
Step 5, Mix the malt/koji and salt
Add salt into the koji and mix thoroughly. The malt and salt mixture is called "Shiokiri Koji."
In this step, if you use 50% rice koji and 50% barley koji (as we did in the recipe), you'll make Mixed Koji which has the best, good balance of sweetness. Meanwhile, If you use 100% rice koji, you'll make Rice Miso. When using 100% barley koji, you'll make Barley Miso. Lastly, if you use 100% brown rice koji, you'll make Brown Rice Miso with the unique taste of brown rice.
※You can also use raw koji (fresh koji) or dried koji in your preference. In this recipe, we are using dried koji.
Step 6, Add mashed soybean in the mixed koji and salt
To prevent mold growth, mix the three ingredients, soybeans, malt, and salt, carefully and thoroughly.
Usually, it is not necessary to add water. However, if the Miso is dry or hard to mix, add some water until it has a softness like an ear lobe.
Step 7, Roll the mixed soybean from step 6 into a round/ball form, then put it in the container
To remove the air from the mixture, form the mixture from step 6 into small balls. Then place each ball into the container and press it by fist each time to fill a gap between the balls.
Because molds can grow within the air gap in the container, please fill it firmly so that there's no air gap.
At Kawashimaya, we use preparation containers with a fastener/zipper, which has both functions for preparation and after-completion storage in miso making. Turn the container (plastic bag) upside down, let the air out, and zip it. If you use enameled metalware or a wooden container, please cover it with plastic wrap after putting in the miso ingredients to prevent it from touching the open air.
Step 8, Let it ferment for about 10 months-12 months
Keep the prepared miso in a cool dark place and avoid direct sunlight. Do not store it in the fridge as fermentation proceeds in Summer.
After aged for 10 months-12 months or more, tasty miso is ready. Please keep it refrigerated along with the container. You can keep the finished homemade miso for more than 1 year.
If you start making miso in Summer, the time needed for fermentation until it's appropriately fermented is 4-5 months. Meanwhile, if you start making it in Winter, the time needed is 10-12 months. Please follow this recommended time for making miso in Winter.
The miso made in January will go through the fermentation process and aged with the guideline below: ● April (4 months): Yellow miso ● July (7 months): Bright golden yellow miso ● September (9 months): Brown, tawny-colored miso ● December (12 months): Red miso
The guide above is our recommendation. If you have other preferences, please enjoy the miso as your heart's content.
After the miso is finished or during the fermentation process, molds may grow on the surface of the miso. If that happened, remove the surface where the molds grow, and enjoy your miso!
How to Store Homemade Miso
After the miso reaches your desired color and taste, store it in the refrigerator. Homemade miso can be consumed for more than one year if stored in the fridge.
If you continue to put the miso in a cool dark place, the fermentation will continue. The longer the fermentation, the miso's taste will become richer, and the color will darken. But when it is ferment for more than two years, it will have a strong smell, less sweetness, and sourness due to lactic acid fermentation. Please monitor the taste when preparing miso, and store it in the refrigerator at your most preferred flavor and color.
Homemade Miso FAQ
How is miso made? Can I make miso from scratch at home?
Miso is made by mixing boiled, mashed soybeans with koji (steamed grains that have been inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae or koji mold) and salt. This mixture is then fermented for 10-12 months (the longer the fermentation, the richer and tastier the miso will be.) Everyone can make homemade miso from scratch with easy steps using only soybeans, koji, and salt.
Does homemade miso go bad?
If you keep the homemade miso in the refrigerator, the fermentation will stop, and it does not go bad in a long time. Miso's quality remains consistent for more than one year if stored in the refrigerator.
When making the miso, is it alright if I don't add water?
It's ok if you don't add water. But when the miso is parched or dried out, hard, or difficult to be prepared, it's better to add water. If you must add water, please use the remaining water that you used to boil the soybeans. Add a small amount of water and adjust it until the soybeans are as soft as an earlobe.
Freshly prepared miso may become hard by the osmotic pressure of salt. This phenomenon is normal, so even if the miso is hardened during the fermentation process, you don't have to worry because it will ferment properly. There is no need to add water in this case.
One of the concerns in making handmade miso is the miso becomes hard. But, whether it's soft miso or hardened miso, each has its virtue,
Please try to make miso and enjoy the variety of its taste!
Is it okay to use the water used for soaking the soybeans to boil them?
We suggest you use new freshwater to boil the soybeans. Even though the soybeans looked clean, there are many dust and microorganisms on them more than they looked. Therefore, when boiling the beans, we recommend you use new freshwater.
Where should we keep the miso during the fermentation process?
Please keep the storage place of miso in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight throughout the fermentation process.
Since it is difficult for ripening/fermentation to proceed under 15 ℃, it's alright to place the miso in a place where people live, like the living room. Plus, please avoid the place that has extremely high temperatures where the temperature consistently exceeds 35 ℃.
How long should we ferment the miso?
It is recommended to ferment the miso for about 10-12 months. If you begin preparing the miso in January, you can enjoy the finished homemade miso in October (the same year).
Meanwhile, if you start preparing the miso in Summer, please ferment for 4-5 months.
When is the right time to eat the handmade miso?
It takes approx 10 months of aging before handmade miso is best to eat.
Depending on the temperature and the storage location, the result isn't always the same. But, if you let the miso ferment until 10 months, the richness and original flavor of miso will come out nicely, and it will become miso with a balanced taste of sweetness.
The two years aged miso will have dark brown or black color as the fermentation further proceeds. This miso will have a strong smell, less sweetness, and sourness due to lactic acid fermentation. It depends on your preference, but miso with 10 to 12 months of aging is said to have the best flavor.
When is the good time to start making homemade miso?
The best time for making miso is from the end of January to February, or when the weather is cold. Miso that was prepared for ferment during this period is called "Kanjikomi."
January is best for preparing miso because miso will age from Winter to Spring, which accelerates fermentation. Then it will be ready in Autumn when the temperature cooled down. If you are making miso in Summer, do not leave the soybeans after boiling. Let it ferment as soon as possible to prevent any unwanted bacterial germination.
However, it doesn't mean you can't prepare miso at another time/season. It's alright if you prepare miso in the Summer, as long as you pay attention to these two points: 1. Do not leave the soybeans as it is after you boiled it. Bacillus natto, a natural enemy of Aspergillus oryzae (koji), becomes very easy to propagate on the soybeans after being boiled during the hot season. So do not leave the boiled soybeans for a long time. Just let it cool down for a while, and start preparing into miso immediately. 2. Do not place koji at room temperature. Since koji is a susceptible microorganism to temperature, leaving it at room temperature for a long time in hot Summer weather may cause failure to make miso.
The miso prepared in Summer tends to easily fermentate, so the color of the miso may be darker.
During the ripening/fermentation process, the container swells. Is that okay?
Please remove the air out of the container. If you use the "compact preparation bag," the container bag may swell when the fermentation starts. Slightly open the bag and vent the air out carefully.
Delicious Recipes Using Homemade Miso
10 Minutes Miso Soup Recipe
The most traditional and loved miso soup recipe all time. The soup with an authentic taste of both miso and dashi umami in one dish. You can improvise with adding many vegetables in the soup to get even more vitamins. Miso soup is very good for your health and dieting.
If you use dried wakame, reduce the heat to medium and add the dried wakame. At this point, make sure the soup is simmering and not over boiling.
Allow the ingredients to cook for 1-2 minutes.
Put miso inside a ladle spoon and slowly dissolve miso into the pot completely. It is better to dissolve miso when the heat is turned off. But, if you are worried that the soup turns cold, let's dissolve the miso with low heat.
Add the tofu after miso is dissolved. If you use raw wakame, add the wakame as well. Sprinkle with green onion and miso soup is ready to serve.
Homemade Butter Miso Ramen Recipe
Ramen is delicious. We all know what. But what if this ramen we talk about has a miso-flavored soup and mixed with tasty, creamy butter? The recipe below will guide you to serve delicious homemade style Butter Miso Ramen for your family.
Prepare the seasoned soft-boiled eggs min. 2 hours in advance
Place the uncracked eggs in a pot and fill with plenty of water (give 2.5 cm of water above the eggs). Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium to high. Set timer to cook the egg for 6 minutes. After the time is up, immediately put them in an ice bath for 2 minutes. Carefully peel the boiled eggs and then transfer the peeled egg to the marinade mixture in a plastic bag (consisting of 200 ml soy sauce, 200 ml mirin, and dissolved sugars). Marinade for at least 2 hours, or 8 hours for best results.
Start making the butter miso ramen
Combine all the miso sauce ingredients (except the dashi stock) and mix them well in a small bowl.
Cut the corn and boil in a pot until soft. Drain the water and use it again for the dashi stock.
Cook the dashi stock in the same pot and bring it to a boil.
While waiting for the dashi stock, finely chopped the Japanese leek in 0.3 cm width or in your preference.
Boil the noodles with plenty of water for around 3 minutes or until chewy and half-soft. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Put one tablespoon of mixed miso sauce in each serving bowl, then pour in about 400 ml of the dashi stock soup. Add the boiled noodles per serving.
Top with the toppings: butter, menma, chopped Japanese leek, boiled corn, seasoned soft-boiled eggs, char siu. Enjoy!
(Tips) Mix the butter with the soup when it's still hot.
Hokkaido Organic Beans "Toyomasari" is one kind of soybeans that among other soybeans it has good flavor and good taste of sweetness, which made this Toyomasari soybean is called "The Grand Champion of Soybeans." Its flavor fits perfectly for boiled soybeans. It gives nice and clean result to miso and tofu.
Organic Dried Rice Koji "Marukura" is handmade dried rice koji made by local Okayama Perfecture farmers who held Japanese Agricultural Organic Standard (JAS) Certificate, is made by using only white rice. Not only JAS, it also passed the FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) accreditation test, which is said to be the most strict in the world.
Toku no Shio" - 100% Salt from Tokunoshima's Sea 1kg
Drawn from the Kuroshio Current (Japan's Black Tide) of Tokunoshima Island, with high concentrate of solar heat and natural energy of sea breeze, it is a salt made by Japanese traditional recipe which boiled down slowly over a flat kettle over time.