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A rich dish to keep you fit

Introduce one of Tokyo Cultures.
This time refer to the Article titled "A rich dish to keep you fit" by Yomiuri ONLINE dated Feb 6, 2010.

As you might know, "Miso (みそ or 味噌)" is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus kōjikin (麹菌), the most typical miso being made with soy.
The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called Misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple.

File:Miso sold in Tokyo foodhall.jpg
(Miso for sale in a Tokyo food hall.)

High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan.
Miso is still very widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining world-wide interest.

File:Barley Miso.JPG
(A jar of commercial barley miso)

Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory, and there is an extremely wide variety of miso available.


A rich dish to keep you fit

(Left) Masahiro Tsujita cools steamed soybeans with help from his family.
(Right) Tsujita dumps the mixed miso ingredients into a large barrel made of Akita cedar.

To make rice malt, the surface of the rice is covered with koji mold and left for four days.

Through its fermentation process, miso becomes rich in soy protein, lactic acid bacterium, vitamins and minerals. Therefore, miso really is healthy, but because of its salty content should be eaten in moderation.

Kojiya Saburoemon in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, is the only miso maker in Tokyo. The 120-year-old family concern uses traditional methods to produce about 30 tons of miso annually.
"The secret to the tastiness of our miso is that we use a lot of rice malt," explains Masahiro Tsujita, the eldest son of Kiyoshi Tsujita, the sixth-generation owner.

(Left) These three types of miso--left to right, pale-colored, red and sweet--are among those produced by Kojiya Saburoemon. The longer the miso ferments, the darker its color.
(Right) Fresh miso on a cucumber is the best way to sample miso, according to Tsujita

Major miso producers use a 1-to-0.6 ratio of soybeans to rice malt, but Kojiya settled on a 1-to-1 ratio after studying traditional miso-making methods. It also makes a miso with a higher malt ratio.

Kojiya uses steamed homegrown soybeans and rice malt, natural salt and groundwater to make its miso. The ingredients are mixed and placed in large barrels made from Akita cedar that can hold two tons of miso. The barrels are then covered and left to stand for six months to one year. The fermenting periods differ according to the variety of miso.

"We put ingredients into barrels several times a year to maintain stocks. Miso fermented at this time of year tastes best," Tsujita said. "Fermentation takes longer during the cold period from January to March, but the taste is great."

Feb. 6, 2010 by Yomiuri ONLINE
By T.S. on Feb 13, 2010
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Author:T. SATOH