Originally used to ferment and preserve fish, this recipe is used for soybeans and other whole legumes as well. Miso paste is used to impart the umami flavors to any Asian cuisine. It can be added to curries or used as a soup thickener as a replacement to corn flour in daily diet.
- pressure cooker
- pickle jar
- 200 gm Soybean
- 100 gm salt
- 50 gm koji rice
- 400 gm millets or red ragi
- Wash the grains and soak them overnight in water.
- Strain the water out, wash the grains again and put them in a pressure cooker for 10-20 minutes.
- Adding some salt while cooking makes the soybean soft (salt seeps into the grain and also increases its boiling point).
- Once the beans are soft enough to be squished between the fingers, we are good to go. Allow the grains to cool down for a couple of hours.
- Mash the grains in a grinder (traditionalist would instruct us to hand pound this mixture but that is just too much effort without any perceivable difference in the end product).
- Make the wet balls out of the millet and soybean paste. Add a few grains of koji in the center and make laddus (balls).
- Take a wide mouth clean container and place the balls in it. Sprinkle some salt between the two soybean balls and press them hard with hand to expel any air bubbles.
- Once the container is filled to the brim, pour a thick layer (1-2cm thick) of salt on top of it and press the whole mixture with a weight. The salt drives out the moisture and also creates an effective barrier against mold.
- Store in a cool dark place for 1-3 months.
- After about a month, scrape off the top layer and pour the contents out. It should have a sour umami smell.
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This miso is called white miso. If we want more powerful flavors then we wait for at least 6 months to make the gritty red miso paste. Please note that miso has about 10-20% of its weight in salt. Hence, when using in recipes, we should cut down the salt accordingly.
There are tons of fermented soybean and legume recipes around. Most of us would have heard of Indonesian Tempah, Natto from Japan and idli from South India. Other popular fermented beans include Pe-Pok from Myanmar, Doui-Chi from China, Sieng from Laos, Thua-Nao from Thailand, and Chungkok-Jang from Korea.
North Eastern India also has several indigenous styles of fermented soybeans. Most notable being, Kinema from Sikkim, Darjeeling and Nepal. The soybean is soaked, cooked, lightly cracked, then packed in leaf bundles and allowed to ferment. It is then Sun dried and stored till it’s time to make curry. Other styles include, Hawaijar from Manipur, Tungryumbai from Meghalya, Bekang from Mizoram, Peruyaan from Arunachal and Aakhone from Nagaland are also some lesser-known traditional fermented soybeans. I hope the book is creating an appetite for fermented food for everyone.