Ben Greenfield in Tokyo #1
Guess who I was with in Tokyo Japan? I spent a week with Ben Greenfield, who is a New York Times Bestselling author, speaker and coach. You can find out who he is on his website and it would be much easier because I cannot explain about everything of his profile. Anyway though, it was my honor to spend time with him because I am a huge fan of him and his podcast. He is definately one of top influencers in fitness, health and wellness industories. Ben came to Tokyo for private speaking, however asked me for showing around while he stays in Tokyo, so I flied from Boston to Tokyo. Of course, my family was so surprised at me at home for a short while. Those who follow Ben’s SNS may know what we had been doing in Tokyo, but I would love to share our amazing experience in Tokyo with you guys.
I and Ben took a homemade miso workshop by Noda Miso Co on the first day. Ben is not a regular turist, but an adventurous person who is looking for true experience. I coordinated Miso making experience with a traditional craftman from 80 years old Miso company in Aichi prefecture.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans and is a thick paste-like substance. It doesn't sound particularly delicious, but it has a great umami flavor. Like most fermented foods, miso improves the balance of good flora in the digestive tract. But the benefits don’t stop there. Miso is chock full of minerals, can lower the risk of breast cancer and is very high in antioxidants too. Plus, it lends amazing flavor to just about any stock or soup. It's an essential ingredient for many Japanese food, including miso soup.
Types of Miso
We started with miso tasting before making homemade miso. We found miso described by its color or ingredients, such as "red miso", "white miso", or "barley miso". Those new to Miso are often surprised to learn that there are near- infinite types, just as there are countless varieties of wines or cheeses. If you adjust the ratio of soy to grain to salt, the environment, the length of fermentation, or the grains chosen, a different type of miso results.
Kome miso is the most common type in Japan, making up more than 80% of the miso produced. It is made from rice, soybeans & a bacterial culture & then mashed. Salt is added and the mixture is left to ferment for 6-12 months. Broadly speaking a six-month rice miso is called “shiro miso” ( white miso) and a twelve-month rice miso is called “aka miso” (red miso). White miso is milder in flavour, with gentle sweet & salty tones, while red miso has a much sharper tang with a far more pungent aftertaste.
Mame miso uses a rice malt and tends to be dark brown with a rich taste.
Barley Miso (Mugi Miso) is the rustic, less polished cousin of rice miso. Usually darker in color and a bit chunky in texture, it is made from soybeans, barley koji and salt, and is sometimes called “country miso”. Typically those living in the southern parts of Japan – Honshu and the islands of Kyushu & Shikoku – prefer this type of miso. Most barley miso is aged for longer than rice miso; the mixture is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, so it is not as sweet & takes longer to ferment.which is very flavorful, very salty, and "full-bodied."
Shiro miso is common in the United States and is also sometimes called white miso. It's a bit less salty and made with both soybeans and rice.
How to ferment
Natural fermentation (10%)> a traditional method that allows the miso to mature naturally according to the chnging climate conditions of the four seasons.
Temperature controlled fermentation (90%)> artificially controlled temperature and humidity to mature miso in a much shorter period of time.
Where to ferment
Wooden Barrel (5%) miso is produced in large, aged-wooden barrels and good yeasts are living inside of the wooden tubs and play an important role in fermenting the miso. These types of barrels are some of the best tools for producing full bodied mellow rice miso. The four seasons also aid the miso's aging process. Long-term aging mellows the miso and gives it a rich aroma and flavor. It also contains living lactic acid bacilli, which plays an important role in intestinal health.
Stainless steel or other material barrel (95%) Unfortunately, only less than 5% of the miso is made by traditional methods. Most miso is mass-produced in a factory using additives and heat to speed up fermentation so that a batch can be finished in 2-3 months. But, this “quick made miso” doesn’t have enough time to build up the complex flavors that you would get through natural, slow fermentation, so more additives and chemicals are added to attempt to make up for the loss of flavor.(As you can see some miso pastes are MSG added at Asian grocery in US) After tasting Noda’s miso or other traditional miso, you’ll definitely notice the difference whenever you eat miso made through mass-production processes.
I want to show my gear. This Onnit division daypack is a perfect upgrade for my life! I use it while hiking and hillclimbing. This pack fits on my body well and passed my expectations as well. It has so many pockets and is very well designed and put together. I love how much I can pack in this backpack.
Above chart explains how mass produce miso is processed. I and Ben did a traiditional handmade miso making process. Here is our recipe down below.
Kome Miso (10wari) 1.85kg Ingredients
Boiled soybean 1kg (in case of raw soybean: 500g)
Kome Koji 500g
Smash! (Crush soybneans & rice koji)
1. Placing the plastic bag on the flat table and smash soybeans by hands.
2.Crush as much as possible.
3. Put rice koji and salt into the plastic bag and mix them well.
Blend & Fill into your own strage
4. Place the mashed soybean and blended kome koji into a large tray with water.
5. Mix them well
6. Make a miso ball. *rather squeeze while forming miso ball to make sure no air inside
7. Throw miso ball into the bottom of the container with some force to knock out any air in the balls.
8. Fill the container with the balls and press properly.
9. Flatten the surface.
10. Sprinkle salt across the surface on the top, particularly around the edges. *salt prevents unnecessary mold from growing.
11.Cover with cloth or cling film.
12. Secure with the lid. Place heavy weight on the top, which is about 20-30% weight of the miso. *place a hard-flat material under the weight to give pressure equally.
*cover with newspaper or cloth if you want to keep dust away.
Keep in cool place away from direct sunlight
White mold can be glown on the surface during the fermentation, which is natural and no harm on human body. Leave it until the miso perfected, or skim off gently if you concern. However, if the color of the mold is rather colorful, like dark or blackish color, scrap it deeply ASAP and scatter plenty of salt on the affected area.
Ready to eat
Miso will be ready to eat any time after 4 months. Find the best time on your preference. Mine will be ready in middle of January 2019. I can’t wait!
How to use
Skim off the surface about 5mm-1cm, and replace in a couple of small containers to fit in the fridge,
If you want miso to stop fermentating completely, store it in the freezer.
I took Ben to Ginza where it is a neighborhood esteemed by everyone in Japan. It's a place where you can find the best fashion, gourmet, beauty, and other luxurious ways to spend your time. What did we have for dinner? Of course, Sushi! The Edo style sushi was a product of the booming Edo culture when more and more commoners were allowed to hold businesses of their own. Tokyo used to be Edo during samurai era (before westenized), so I wanted Ben to have truly authentic sushi in Tokyo.
We visited Kutani in Ginza Tokyo. In Kutani they serve the highest grade of qualitys eafood freshly caught for the day from Raus-cho, Hokkaido transported by Air. What makes Kutani special? They serve red rice! Rice is by far the single most important element of sushi. Procuring and preparing good quality seafood doesn't matter much if the rice is not good. Sushi chefs are judged first and foremost on the quality, attributes, and taste of their rice. Akazu (also called kasuzu ) vinegar is made using sake lees (sake kasu ) which is the yeast slurry left over from sake production. It is considered by many to be the vinegar of choice for traditional Edomae-zushi. Rice vinegar was expensive during the Edo period so aka-zu was used as a cheaper, delicious alternative.
Aka-zu is typically aged for three to five years, so ironically these days it is more expensive to produce than rice vinegar. Its reddish-black color (see image below) darkens the sushi-rice - the more akazu is used, the darker the rice will appear.
Akazu is a critical component of Edomae-zushi. It brings a deep, flavorful, refreshing taste full of umami to sushi rice. I know Ben is very particular about food he put in his mouth. Seafoods must from wild caught and radiation free. Hokkaido is very famous about fresh seafood. Also, fishmarkets are usualy closed on Wednesday and Sunday, so I wanted Ben to have a fresh sushi at Friday night. I think Kutani gave us a great experience.
7-3-9 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061 Ginza Lee Building B1F (along the Outer Boru Territory)
* Business hours will be changed to 17:30 ~ 4:00(next morning) starting on November 1st, 2018.
Monday through Saturday
Dinner 17:30～4:00(Last entry 3:00)
Sunday and national holiday
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