Photo by Kirsten K. Shockey
Because you can buy pre-made rice and barley koji, it’s easy to ferment your first batch of miso without any previous fermentation experience. Koji grains can be found online. In fact, South River Miso sells organic brown rice koji. If you’re feeling unsure, trust yourself, trust the process, and trust the microbes. If you set up the ferment as directed here, it’ll work. This recipe calls for rice koji, but barley can be used interchangeably.
This miso is mellow — not particularly strong or salty — because the koji-to-bean ratio is nearly equal, tilting a little toward the sweet koji. More importantly, while it isn’t instantly gratifying, this miso can be enjoyed after a couple of months of fermentation. It has a pleasing light-yellow color and is a fantastic all-purpose miso. Technically, koji acts as a primary fermentation in miso, but since this recipe calls for pre-made koji, it has only one ferment period.
This recipe makes a little over a quart of miso, but you’ll want to use a 1/2-gallon jar to ferment it so you have room left in the jar to top it with plenty of weight.
Fermentation type: Lacto/combination
Primary fermentation: 2 months
Total time: About 2 months
Yield: About 1 quart
- 2 cups (350 grams) dry chickpeas
- 2-1/2 cups (440 grams) light rice koji
- 1/2 cup (150 grams) salt, plus extra to top the miso and coat the fermentation vessel
- 1 tablespoon (16 grams) unpasteurized miso
- Soak the chickpeas for 18 to 24 hours.
- Boil the chickpeas in a large pot until they’re soft, about 1 hour, or steam them in an electric pressure cooker for 35 minutes. Drain, reserving the water, and then spread them out on a clean tray to cool slightly.
- When the chickpeas have cooled to below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, combine them in a large bowl with the koji and 1/2 cup of the salt. Mash together with a potato masher, or pulse in a food processor. Add the unpasteurized miso, and mix thoroughly. Add enough of the bean cooking water to get the desired consistency; it should be slightly chunky and dry, like mashed potatoes that are a little too dry. You want the paste to hold together, but not be wet or runny. Set aside while you prepare your jar.
- Using a bit of the bean cooking water, rinse the inside of your fermentation jar or crock, making sure to coat the entire vessel. Then, sprinkle some of the extra salt into the jar, making sure to coat all the sides and the bottom.
- Spoon the chickpea mixture into the vessel, pressing as you go to remove air bubbles.
- Set a piece of unbleached cotton cloth or parchment paper cut to fit the diameter of your vessel on top. Sprinkle about 1/2 tablespoon of salt along the edges of this cover to seal any gaps. Weight the miso with weight equal to the miso, which will be about 2 pounds.
- Cover the entire vessel with cloth or paper, securing it in place, and store it at room temperature until it’s ready, about 2 months.
- When you’re ready to harvest your miso, open up the fermentation vessel and remove the covering and weight. You’ll notice a rich liquid, called “tamari.” You can strain it off to use, but since it’s in such a small quantity, you’ll be better off stirring it back in. You may need to scrape off the edges or the top surface of the miso until you get to something that looks nice and rich in color. Your miso may be chunky; if you prefer a smoother paste, process it in a grinder or food processor. Store it in an airtight container. It’ll keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Want to learn more about this fantastic ferment? Discover more in “Meet the Marvelous Miso.”