Friday, July 29, 2016

What is miso?

Miso (pronounced mee-so) is one of the outstanding treasures of Japanese culture which has now spread from its native home to benefit all of humanity.
Wow. *eyes, widen, mouth agape*

I just now clicked on my own link to South River Miso and read what they say of themselves. Now that's confidence. That right there is faith in your product. Its not just them thinking it, rather, it's them being convinced. Reading it made me laugh. I realized they really mean it.

Decades elapsed and so far everyone who bothers to write loves it, not a single person will say their product sucks and it's way too expensive and now decades have gone by and  all the accolades have them convinced they are the miso gods. I'm imagining all that.
Miso as we know it today is the result of over 2000 years of care and craft, developed within a world view which intuitively knew that food is our best medicine. 
If you say so then it is so, we’re already sold so the case from antiquity and breezy aphorism appeal to us, we appreciate your product and we agree.

I thought it was funny. And I sensed they might get a bit spiritual. They are a uniquely driven group. And I know there's a lot to say about miso, I read a whole book one time a fat one, crammed with words, the bible of miso, its authors treated their subject as precious. Exhaustive, actually, the entire history of the separate organisms, different types of miso at different places at various times historically.
According to Japanese mythology, miso itself is a gift to mankind from the gods to assure lasting health, longevity, and happiness. Miso has no equivalent among Western foods. In the form of a wet paste with the consistency of a firm cottage cheese, miso is made through a unique double fermentation process developed through centuries of Japanese food craft. Cooked beans (usually soybeans) are mixed together with salt and with cultured or fermented grain, called koji (usually made from rice or barley). This mixture is then fermented in great wooden vats, in some cases for a few weeks and for as long as three years. Natural miso is always unpasteurized and, traditionally, has a distinct chunky texture.
I would say texture of peanut butter. The description is much longer than this. It gets into the spiritual and historical aspects. I thought it was funny. But it's not. These people really are serious.

And they don't say this, but it's shown in video, they spread out the steaming hot beans on the floor, don special cotton socks, and go stomping around blending salt and smashing the beans.

YouTube video, South River miso cooking channel 2010 
YouTube video, South River miso Martha Stewart 2001 (below)

As for myself, I think my jars sat there in the refrigerator for over a year. I'm certain of it now that I'm thinking. The stuff is awesome. I made some a few days ago and it's been a very long time.


Sixty Grit said...

My last girlfriend really liked miso - in fact she had a shirt that read "Miso Happy!". She got the shirt when she toured the factory that made it - it is locally sourced GMO-free sustainably produced non-patriarchal miso. Or something. Well, it is made locally.

edutcher said...

Had the sea bream prepared for the Imperial Naval Staff been cooked in miso, and not salt, to celebrate the departure of the Combined Fleet for an easy victory at a little speck in the middle of the Pacific called Midway, perhaps Japan might have won.

Such a mistake, to the superstitious Japanese, meant crowning great success with failure.

Methadras said...

I love miso soup. There is a place in San Diego on Asian Row in Kearny Mesa on Convoy St. called ChopStix and they have the best miso anywhere I've ever had it and their chicken yakisoba to go with it. mmmm, going there now.

Also a little down the street is a dim sum place called Jasmine. One of the best.