Yep, this is one of those food fads in Japan AGAIN. Every now and then, a certain home-made food or a drink becomes very popular throughout this country and you find the food/drink in almost every household, such as Caspian Sea yogurt or shiso (perilla) drink -- just to name a few? (Well, maybe the shiso drink was popular in rural areas but not so much in big cities? Shiso is expensive when bought at the stores, so the juice was popular among those who grow the herb themselves.) Now it’s time for this “ume miso,” and I was able to jump on the bandwagon at the very, very last minute.
Ume Miso (First week )
Usually I don’t join a fad too easily. I did try Caspian Sea yogurt but I didn’t care for the taste very much. As for the shiso drink, I had to -- still have to -- consume some of the result of my mom’s persistent work every summer, so there is absolutely no need for me to make it myself. But this ume miso is different. I decided to make some right away when mom told me that she made a great success at the feast for a Buddhist ceremony in my hometown. She made nuta (blanched green onions and boiled squid dressed with vinegar-miso dressing) with her ume miso dressing. The salad bowl was emptied quickly, according to her, and a few female relatives came to her asking for the recipe. Gosh, then I’ve got to give it a try right now!
I guess some of you may know “ume miso” as miso (fermented soybean paste) mixed with umeboshi (very salty, pickled Japanese ume plums) paste. That’s the traditional one often used for traditional Japanese dishes. But this “ume miso” is different; it is made from fresh ume plums and seems to be used as a versatile dressing.
What you do is VERY simple. You wash and pat dry fresh ume plums and pickle them in miso and sugar. The proportion of the weight of the ume, sugar and miso is basically 1:1:1. If you use 1 kg ume (unseeded), use 1 kg miso and 1 kg sugar. You might want to use less sugar when using ripe, yellow ume instead of green ones. That’s it. Now some instructions on the net say “Cook ume with miso and sugar,” but others say “Just place ume, miso, sugar alternately in a jar and let it rest.”
Of course mom and I went for the easier method. Mom said she didn’t even stir it at all, but I do stir the paste once a day as recommended on some recipe websites.
It looked like this photo in the beginning, and in a few days, the juice came out from the fresh ume plums made the paste quite runny as in the top photo. Some say that the miso will be ready in a month and others say half a year, so I'm going to try it in three months or so. :P
I wanted to use green ume so badly, because the paste would be more fragrant that way, but it was already the end of ume season when I gave it a go and I couldn’t even find ripe ones anywhere. I was so delighted when I finally found one stall at the Sunday Market selling a few bags of the last ume plums of this season. The old lady at the stall said, “Oh, you’re going to make ume miso?” as she gave me the change.
Yeah, a bandwagon. Really. ;)