Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sansho Miso

Sansho is harvested (see previous post) - now, what to do with it?  Make sansho-miso, of course! I absolutely LOVE this as a dip for raw veggies in the summer.  It is especially wonderful with cucumbers fresh from the garden.  It can be thinned with warm water if you find it too thick.  Or sometimes I had some sesame oil and use it as a salad dressing.  Smear it on some chicken - or put it on eggplant and broil it.  Good stuff!

Now, here's the tough part - six months ago I found out that I am severely allergic to soybeans in every form and even in minute amounts.  Soy is in everything...literally everything. It is hidden in foods you would never imagine and is known by many names. But that's a post for a different time.

Enter my new hero - chickpea miso!  I've tried two different brands and this one is by far the best.  I can't even remember what "real" miso tastes like. And it even fools my Japanese husband, Takashi.

Sansho Miso
1/4 cup sansho berries, crushed or coarsely chopped
3/4 cup miso
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
dash of sesame oil optional

Mix miso, mirin, and sake in a small saucepan and place over low heat.  Add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Add sansho.  Increase heat to medium and boil gently for about 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and add a splash of sesame oil if desired.  As noted above, this can be thinned with warm water to desired consistency.  Enjoy!
Miso eggplant

Miso pickles

Sansho miso dip with fresh vegetables
Blackberry-banana-beet green smoothie on the side

Sansho harvest

It's sansho harvest time!  And every year we can't remember the process so its time to do a blog post that we can refer back to.

Sansho  ('Zanthoxylum piperitum') or Japanese pepper is a deciduous aromatic spiny tree belonging to the citrus family.  The "berries" can be harvested when green and the taste is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's like a party in your mouth as the flavor travels and changes...it's not hot and spicy but more tingly and citrusy.  And if you take a drink of cold water after eating some, it awakens all your taste buds all over again.  Amazing!  We primarily use it in miso dip served with fresh veggies. Recipe will follow in a separate post.

early flowering stage before fruit forms
Harvesting sansho

 So here is the process...
1. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a slow boil.  Use approximately 1 T. kosher salt per liter of water used. Add approximately 2 cups of sansho berries.  Simmer for 4 minutes.
We do the whole batch at once and adjust quantities accordingly.

2. Drain and then soak in cold water for one hour.  This removes any potential bitterness. Drain.

3. Remove large stems - small individual stems are okay to leave. This step takes forever - really, it seems endless!  It takes two of us well over an hour to remove the stems.

4. Dry well on paper towels.

 5. Freeze in individual packets.

Sansho Miso

Sansho miso made with chickpea miso