Spilling the Beans
Twelve pairs of hands and 11 kilos of beans – Welcome to a miso-making party! P.S. If these pictures get you salivating, do note that the miso won’t be ready until October.
My relatives’ ceramic studio recently hosted a miso-making party. The process is both simple and also time-consuming. First the soy beans are soaked in water. We started with 11 kilos of beans, and about 12 people who mashed and combined the ingredients by hand.
The beans are then cooked in a pressure cooker. We had three pots going at once.
The beans are then mashed by hand. In the upper left hand of the photo above is a mortar and pestle; the wooden pestle is made from Sansho, the Japanese pepper tree (Zanthoxylum piperitum).
The mashed soy beans are then mixed with rice and barley yeast. Not everyone uses barley yeast, but my relatives prefer the flavour of combining the two. All of the mixing is done by hand. We made three of these huge bags of miso.
Lunch was sandwiches and salads, with several types of miso. Japanese food is often eclectic: you can see two types of pure miso and a miso dip for sliced vegetables, egg salad, ham, peanut butter and nutella.
To fully combine and compress the miso, my cousin used his body weight and stepped on the dough. Kind of like wine making, but with a plastic layer between foot and food.