Sunday, February 22, 2009
Soup is not the only way that Japanese people enjoy miso. It can be mixed with other condiments to make sauces, dressings or used for cooking fish or pickling vegetables. Miso flavor also varies among different regions of Japan. The most popular ones are Shiromiso (white miso), Akamiso (red miso) and Hatchomiso (dark, reddish-brown miso).
The difference in color comes from different reasons - ingredients, cooking methods, fermentation period and so on. In the process of making Shiromiso, soybeans are typically boiled while Akamiso uses the technique of steaming them at really high temperature, which causes soybeans to turn reddish. Some white miso made with rice only takes about a week to mature although the one made with soybeans takes up to six months to two years. Besides the ingredients used to make miso, the length of aging can create interesting flavors and characteristics such as sweet, salty, smoky, etc.
Dengaku is a type of food which various vegetables or tofu are skewered and grilled with sweetened miso that is Dengaku miso. The dish is originally from Nagoya region of Japan where Hatchomiso is commonly used. Hatchomiso is aged at least for two years and has deep flavor as well as dark brown color that's similar to the color of dark chocolate.
This dish is very simple and can be entertaining when you have a party or just want some small appetizer with your dinner. It's best if you have a grill, but if you don't have one, you can still cook vegetables or tofu in the toaster oven or on the skillet. When cooking tofu, I would recommend choosing firm or extra firm tofu and draining the water as much as possible.
1/2 c. Hatchomiso
1/4 c. Sugar
2/3 c. Cooking Sake
1 Tbsp Mirin
In a small pot, combine all ingredients and mix well. Turn on the heat and set it to low. Using wooden spoon, gently stir the mixture while cooking. When the mixture gets thickened (about the consistency of ketchup), turn off the heat and it's ready to use.
Grill tofu or vegetables of your choice (Using skewers is optional). Spread Dengaku miso over the grilled items. Serve immediately.