For centuries Japanese craftsmen,
using natural fermentation,
have transformed soybeans and grains into a delicious and versatile staple
food and seasoning called miso.
Rich and savory, miso adds a harmonizing flavor to a wide variety of dishes.
Like fine wines, each miso has a distinct flavor, color and aroma.
Throughout Japan, even today, each region is proud of its own type of miso.
In central Japan's Aichi Province, in the town of
Okazaki, on Hatcho (8th) Street,
is a curious set of old tile-roof buildings.
They are the home of Hatcho Miso Company, Ltd., makers, for five centuries,
of one of Japan's true living treasures, the most famous and revered miso
in all Japan. Inside the shop stand rows of huge ancient cedar casks,
held together with hoops of braided bamboo and topped with a mountain of stones
so skillfully arranged that they never collapse, even during earthquakes.
In each vat, under the great pressure of three tons of river rocks,
12,000 pounds of Hatcho (pronounced hot-cho) miso slowly and naturally
ferments through the hot, humid summers and mild Aichi winters.
After 24-30 months, under the direction of 18th generation president
kyuemon Hayakawa, workers remove the stones and pressing lid, exposing the rich,
fragrant miso that has long been treasured by Emperors and peasants alike.
Hatcho miso, with its deep mellow flavor and
savory aroma, is the Emperor's
choice, and Hatcho Miso Company Ltd. has the prestigious honor of supplying the
HATCHO MISO is an extraordinary source of
Miso is known as a good source of protein, and Hatcho miso contains 80% more
protein and 20-25% less salt than long-aged rice and barley misos.
Moreover, Hatcho miso is a source of essential amino acids, minerals, and
vitamins, is low in calories and fat, and has five times the fiber of an equal
amount of celery.
Considered an important medicinal food, its
daily use is credited with numerous
health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, alkalinizing the blood,
neutralizing the effects of smoking and environmental pollution, and helping to
prevent radiation sickness. (Immediately after the Chernobyl accident in l986,
European customers ordered over 40 tons of Hatcho miso believing it to be
most powerful against the effect of radiation.)
Like yogurt, unpasteurized Hatcho miso is abundant in lactic acid bacteria and
enzymes which aid digestion and food assimilation.
Japanese people have traditionally used miso in soup twice a day
for this very reason.
MISO'S outstanding medicinal
qualities have been confirmed by scientific
research. In 1965, scientists at Japan's National Cancer Research Center
found that those who regularly eat miso soup suffer significantly less from
some forms of cancer and heart disease.
In 1972 researchers discovered an alkaloid in miso that discharges
heavy metals from the body, and, recently, workers at Japan's Tohoku University
isolated substances in miso that cancel out the effects of some carcinogens.
Many natural healers and traditional Oriental physicians consider Hatcho the most
medicinally potent of all misos.
Although modern machines now do some of the
work, the basic method used at
Hatcho Miso Company has changed little in the last 300 years.
First, premium Hokkaido soybeans are washed and soaked in water for l hour.
The beans are then transferred to a 2000 pound capacity cooker,
steamed for 2 hours, then left in the closed cooker overnight.
This unusual cooking process gives Hatcho miso its deep, cocoa brown color and
characteristic smoky flavor.
The following morning the soft, dark beans are
crushed in a special machine
that shapes them into 2-inch crosses, allowing a greater surface area for
the growth of microorganisms.
Next the crosses are lightly dusted with a mixture of Aspergillus spores and
toasted barley flour and incubated for 72 hours.
As the "hatcho crosses", now called koji, emerge from the incubation room
covered with a fragrant bloom of pale yellow mold and loaded with powerful
digestive enzymes, the koji is mixed with sea salt and a small amount of
water and transferred to 7 foot tall cedar vats.
After being covered with a thick cotton cloth and heavy wood pressing lid,
the miso is pressed with a 6,000 pound pyramid of stones, and the unhurried
process of natural aging begins.
Over 8-10 seasons, the enzymes supplied by the Aspergillus slowly mellows
the mixture, transforming the complex protein, carbohydrates,
and fats of the beans into dark, rich, flavorful amino and fatty acids,
and sweet simple sugars.
Finally, after at least 2 full years, the mature,
full-bodied miso is scooped out, packaged without pasteurization,
and shipped to eager customers around the world.
ALTHOUGH some manufacturers
use the name Hatcho miso for their dark soybean
misos, only the special miso made since the 1300's on 8th Street in the small
town of Okazaki is authentic Hatcho miso. It is not just the exacting,
ancient process that sets Hatcho miso apart.
Over the centuries a particular strain of Aspergillus mold, known as Aspergillus
hatcho, has made its home in the cracks and crevices of old seasoned vats and
throughout the fermentation rooms on Hatcho Street.
Aspergillus hatcho gives this miso a unique flavor that has never been duplicated
by other miso makers.
Hatcho Miso Company is proud of its commitment
to the time-honored traditions
of their craft. So many other misos are made with inferior ingredients,
accelerated aging in temperature-controlled synthetic vats, and pasteurized or
packaged with alcohol or other additives and preservatives.
As certainly as these shortcuts save time and money, they adversely affect
the flavor and quality of the finished product.
Try Hatcho miso and taste the difference.
SINCE ITS INTRODUCTION to the
West as a simple and
medicinal soup base, miso has blossomed into an essential ingredient in the
new natural cuisine.
Hatcho miso can be used to enhance everything from basic macrobiotic
dishes to gourmet fare.
For the busy cook who wants to add flavor and concentrated nutrition to
standard American dishes such as casseroles, gravies, chili, baked beans
and stews, simply substitute Hatcho miso for salt (use approximately
2 tablespoons miso for I teaspoon salt).
For those moving toward a more wholesome, natural way of eating,
the hearty, meat-like quality of Hatcho miso can help ease that transition.
For example, try substituting vegetable stock seasoned with Hatcho miso in
recipes calling for beef stock. For the experienced natural foods cook,
Japanese cook or gourmet cook, miso's possibilities are truly endless.
Hatcho miso's savory, robust flavor combines
well with beans, gravies, baked
and simmered dishes, and vegetable soups and stews. When making miso soup,
combine I part Hatcho miso with 2-3 parts red miso or light, sweet miso
for an especially satisfying balanced taste.
Hatcho Miso and Organic Mellow Hatcho Miso are
available under the Mitoku
and Mitoku Macrobiotic labels, as well as the private labels of leading natural
food companies worldwide.
Organic Hatcho Miso was recently pioneered by Christopher Dawson of
Mitoku Company for the macrobiotic market.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes. Enjoy!
Quick and easy, Sesame-Miso Dressing enhances
lightly cooked vegetables,
especially green beans and leafy greens.
To prepare, grind 2 TBs toasted white or brown sesame seeds in a suribachi or mortar.
Mix in 2 tsp. Hatcho Miso, 1 TB mirin, 1 TB rice syrup, and 1 tsp. Iemon juice.
The mixture should be quite thick.
Gently toss vegetables with the dressing and serve.
1 1/2 TBs sesame or olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 onion, diced
3 TBs whole wheat flour
l 1/2 Cups vegetable stock or water
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. Hatcho miso
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1 TB mirin or sake
2-3 TBs fresh parsley minced
Saute the garlic and onion over medium-low heat until
Add the flour, stir constantly for I minute, then slowly add the stock or water
while stirring briskly. Stir frequently until gravy simmers and begins to thicken.
Add the salt, thin the miso in I TB water and add to pan along with the basil,
mirin or sake, and parsley. Simmer gently uncovered, 10-15 minutes, stirring
occasionally. Keep warm until serving.