Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meet the Kings County Fermentation Group

This delicious home-made golden miso is gift from my friend Tomo Tanaka. I only wish you could lick your screen and taste this. It’s not over salted like the most of the Japanese commercial products sold in tubs. It has sweet and deep components, a meaty aroma and a long lasting savory flavor. This is the handiwork of a skilled fermenter. Miso has probiotic qualities, known to enhance health and beauty... bla bla bla... I could just eat this up with a spoon. Heavily salted foods are like a person who sports too much perfume or cologne. You have to wonder what it’s masking.

On Oscar night at Freddy’s Bar the Kings County Fermentation Group met for the first time. Natsuko brought sweet miso dip and a sweet rice porridge called amazake, literally “sweet sake” but non-alcoholic. She also made sweet miso scones! Her husband Greg is quite a fermenter. He makes tempeh and kombucha among other fermented foods. Gerg said he’d get me a kombucha scoby at some point so that I can make my own. Ritsuko shared her fresh batch of miso served with cucumber and carrot slices, a classic combination. I brought my fermented radish and pogi kimchee to serve with Tater Tots. Tomo and I just ate everything, but we did share food with the crowded room on Oscar night.

In our discussion I learned that the key ingredient in most Japanese fermented foods is kogi, a rice-based starter that is cultured with a fungus named aspergillus oryzae, which naturally occurs on rice bran. In March I’m taking my first miso making class from Natsuko Yamawaki. Her Brooklyn-based enterprise, Hakkoan, produces quality fermented Japanese goods. So why make my own miso? Red barley miso is one of the key ingredients in my vegan kimchee. The higher quality small-batch products are great, but the price is dear at an average of $12 for a 16 oz jar. Dont get me wrong, it’s well worth the money, but I need volume. I’m very excited about taking this class.

KCFG will meet again at Freddy’s Bar in April, and from then onward on the four Sunday each month. For more information on Hakkoan fermented foods and classes contact Natsuko Yamawaki.


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