Partially polished rice miso

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A bit of cultural background of miso in Japan

    Perhaps not so well known outside Japan, but there are numerous region-originated types and classification of miso exist in Japan. Quite often, people in Japan affectionately and proudly describe what kind of miso they are brought up with. How is the colour, flavour, taste and texture are like. People also find it amusing when they discover new type of miso they didn’t know before. We respect each other’s miso.

This shows how deeply miso is rooted in Japanese culture, but we also have hundreds of  miso-related idioms and proverbs in Japanese. One example is Temae-miso(手前味噌)It is literally translated as “My own miso” and is used when one praises oneself or one’s family. Japanese are rather modest and hardly praise themselves in front of others. But the home-made miso has been a rare exception from old time. People boasted each other how tasty and special their home-made miso is. So even now, in rare situations when we boast (in any context),  we say 「手前味噌ですが… (It may sound like I am boasting, but)」before starting, so self-praise is tolerated.

 

Classification of miso

     Going back to the classification, one type of it is based on the type (substrate) of koji used. When rice koji is used, miso is called rice miso (Kome-miso). When brown rice koji is used, miso is called brown rice miso (Genmai-miso). When barley koji is used, it is called barley miso (Mugi-miso). When soybean koji is used, the miso is called soybean miso (Mame-miso or Hacho miso). And so on. Each has its specific feature and I cannot choose which one is my favourite, so I make various different kind of miso (Always short of space to place crocks…)

I made partially polished rice miso!

Perhaps this is my own classification and nobody else’s, but today I made partially polished rice miso using partially polished rice koji. The final miso will give subtle rice-oriented sweetness as well as deep umami because of the protein remaining on the surface of rice grain. It is less sour than brown rice miso and I love it♥ It takes slightly longer to ferment than standard rice miso (but a lot shorter than brown rice miso). For me the taste and flavour of the final miso totally justifies a bit of extra waiting time.      By the way, partially polished rice miso is not available as a commercial product. Growing koji on partially polished rice takes longer and a bit of special attention is required, so may be for many miso maker, it is not feasible business option (As I mentioned, it also takes longer before you can enjoy it). Likewise, partially polished rice koji is not readily available in shops (even in Japan). So I guess this is a big advantage and luxury for koji growers to be able to enjoy your own miso using your choice of substrate. You can also design the taste and flavour of it (sweetness-oriented or umami-rich type) by controlling the enzyme balance in koji.

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Haruko

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