Preserving the Harvest :: Miso Pickles

Hello!

The Walking to Spring CSA started this week and I couldn’t be happier to a refrigerator full of fresh produce. Let us know how your thoughts on this session – we would love to hear from you!

I wanted to share with you a preservation technique that you may find fun and useful. It is called Misozuke, which is a Japanese miso-cultured pickle. It is really easy and you only need a couple ingredients – miso and veggies. See below to learn more!

Basics
This is a pretty simple process but there are a few key steps to keep in mind:

  • Create a miso-doko: this is the miso pickling paste. You can use any type of miso you have on hand – white and red are the most common. You can use one type or mix together various types. You can add a little sake and/or mirin which will loosen it up and make it easier to submerge the vegetables (I think I will try this next time). Some recipes add other flavorings at this point, such as ginger and garlic.
  • Prepare your vegetables: you could probably use just about any vegetable but turnips, Daikon, kohlrabi and celery are the ones I have seen most often. I am sure broccoli, carrots, scallions and even the stems from your greens would work great. You can cut your vegetables any size but most are sliced about 1/2″ thick or cut into matchstick sized pieces. Whatever size you choose, be sure they are evenly sized so they ferment at the same rate.
  • Layer miso-doko and vegetables: you can do this in just about any kitchen vessel – a dinner plate, food storage container or even canning jars. You can spread a layer of miso in the bottom of the container, lay the prepared vegetables on top, and top them with more miso. If you loosened the miso, you may be able to just push the vegetables in the mixture. Some recipes I have found will place cheesecloth on either side of the vegetables to make it easier to get them out but I didn’t bother with that step.
  • Ferment: you have a choice to ferment on the counter at room temperature, in the refrigerator or a combination of the two. Some people will keep the mixture at room temperature for a day and then transfer to the refrigerator for the remaining time. If you decide to keep it in the refrigerator the whole time, as I did, it may take longer to reach a desired outcome.
  • Taste daily: this process is entirely new to me so I can’t provide a great guideline on how long it will take. Some recipes ferment for just a day while others leave it for two weeks. Taste a small piece everyday and simply remove them when they are to your liking.

Other Resources
I recommend checking out the links below to get an idea of the process others use to make these pickles. They are all a bit different but you can gleam a little from each one.

Leftover Miso
You can use the miso bed over and over as long as you like the flavor – some say up to 10 times. Once it loses flavor, however, there are plenty of ways to get use out of it.

  • Tekka: I am fascinated by this savory condiment made by cooking down miso and ground root vegetables. You can find a recipe and learn more about it here and here.
  • Miso-Sesame Dressing: this probably won’t be as full flavored as compared to using fresh miso but still a great option none-the-less.
    • Ingredients: 6 tablespoons water, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 7 teaspoons red miso, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1-1/2 teaspoons honey, 1 (2-inch) piece ginger – peeled and chopped coarse, 1 small garlic clove – chopped coarse, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
    • Direction: Process all ingredients except canola and sesame oil in a blender until finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With the blender running, add oils in steady stream until incorporated, then continue to process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Can be refrigerated for a week.
  • Simple Miso Soup: add a little of the miso paste to a cup and pour boiling water over, stirring to combine. Top with sliced scallions and enjoy.

Radish Miso Pickles
makes about 1/2 cup finished pickles

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white miso
  • 4-5 French or globe radishes, sliced 1/2″ thick or cut into small wedges

Directions:

  • Place 1/4 cup of the miso in a thin layer on the bottom of a glass food storage container. Place the radishes in a single layer on top of the miso. Spread the remaining miso on top of the radishes. Cover and place in the refrigerator until done.

Roasted Chinese Long Beans with Miso-Butter

Hello!

I love recipes that deliver big flavor with minimal effort – and this is one of those. These beans are great simply sauteed but I wanted to dress mine up a bit. After they were roasted, I chopped them into bite sized pieces and served them with brown rice, cherry tomatoes and a fried egg (topped with a little soy sauce and hot sauce – yum!). We hope you enjoy!

Roasted Chinese Long Beans with Miso-Butter
4-6 servings

Recipe notes: 1) providing a recipe using a broiler is always tricky because broilers vary so much between ovens. When I used this technique, I found that the resulting beans still have a good amount of crunch. If you want your beans cooked through more, I would suggest adjusting the oven racks down an extra layer so you have time to cook the beans through without burning the butter mixture, 2) if you haven’t planned ahead and don’t have room temperature butter, you can soften it in the microwave on 20% power in 30 second increments.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 pounds Chinese long beans, ends trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Adjust one oven rack to about 6″ inches away from the broiler with a second rack on a level just below that one. Preheat your broiler to high.
  • Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and evenly distribute the beans between the two sheets.
  • Mix the butter, miso, garlic and black pepper together in a small bowl until uniform. Dollop the mixture over the beans (it doesn’t have to be even – they will be tossed again in a minute).
  • Place one tray of beans on the higher rack under the broiler for 1 minute. Remove from the oven and toss the beans to evenly coat with the now melted butter mixture. Return to the oven on the lower rack and cook for 8-10 minutes (mine needed 10 minutes), or until the beans have started to soften but still retain some texture. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a serving or storage dish. Repeat with the remaining tray of beans.