Hatcho Miso

15 12 2007

I mentioned about a month ago that a couple of my friends were leaving for a two week vacation in Japan. I’m happy to report that they made it back safely and had some wonderful adventures.  While in Okazaki, they shelled out hefty yen for hatcho miso, which is a specialty of that city. They were also generous enough to share it with me when they got home, and I plan to try my hand at miso soup this weekend. Meanwhile, here is what I’ve learned about hatcho miso.

The name “hatcho” actually means eight cho, a cho being a unit of measurement equaling about 108 metres. The “brewery” where this special type of miso originated was eight cho from Okazaki castle, where the founder of the Edo feudal government lived. My guess is that the guy was pretty fond of this miso. It is claimed to have been the favored miso of emperors.

Hatcho miso is actually a type of red miso. White miso is made in other parts of the country, but is apparently milder than hatcho. It is made only from soybeans grown in Japan and fermented in 100 year old cedar vats for three years. If you’d like to make your own miso, check out the Yamasa Institute’s website. You’ll need to find a large container, since their recipe makes six tons. You’ll also need three tons of river stones to hold the lid down, but don’t worry, this will give you plenty of miso to share with your friends.

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