Amsterdam / Aichi / Ehime
We welcome Marika Groen a.k.a. Malica Ferments, a Japanese fermentation specialist based in Amsterdam. Under the topic “WHITE MISO ＆ TAMARI presented by Malica ferments”, Mono Japan will introduce you to Marika’s special selection of wheat soy sauce and barley miso that are yet unknown to most of us. The best thing is : you can also buy these undiscovered authentic soy sauce and miso from May 4th to June 1st.
Japanese food is based on harmony with nature, the four seasons, and there are countless fermented foods (hakkomono/hakko shokuhin) that enhance that connection. Miso, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, and sake—which most people are familiar with—are all fermented foods.
In Japan, these seasonings are right there in the kitchen and on the dining table. One can easily buy them at the supermarket. In fact, they are so ubiquitous that most people don’t even begin to consider where these fermented items are produced or what kind of ingredients are used to make them.
For those abroad it can be a bit more difficult to find them and learn the differences.
Personally, it wasn’t until I lived abroad for a long time that I realized the depth of fermentation in Japan. Of course, you can bring the items back from Japan or try to get them where you live. However, as I bought what was available, I became increasingly motivated to choose more for myself.
I wanted to incorporate what I personally think is most delicious and serve it on the table daily. I wanted to know more about what these fermented foods are. That desire to learn more was one of the things that woke me up to the world of Japanese fermented foods.
Now I am working under the name Malica ferments to share three days of koji-making with the world. I call my mainstream class, Kojiology. In these lessons I explore the tradition and history of Japanese fermented foods and how they nourish our bodies as well as our soul. I discuss the myriad ways fermentation has influenced society and how it has taken root as a culture.
I am always chewing and sharing what I learn immediately. In order to deepen my understanding, I also use my feet to visit the many brewers and producers in Japan. Hidden fermented foods are lying in wait all across Japan, just waiting to be discovered. Even last year, when coronavirus made it impossible to continue my quest in person, I made new encounters online.
Under the theme of WHITE MISO & TAMARI, I would like to introduce rare miso and soy sauce from two of the breweries I was able to meet along the way.
Both are unusual products that are a little surprising at first—even for fermentation lovers—as they do not contain any soybeans which are typically used in miso and soy sauce production.
However, both of these products have long been familiar to locals in Japan. Recently, with the help of the global fermentation boom they have become a popular, highly sought-after product. Even outside of Japan, the number of fans is gradually increasing thanks to restaurants and chefs who understand the taste. In general, however, there are still many people who do not know these hard-to-obtain products.
I would like to bring such miso and soy sauce to your table.
The theme of "WHITE" is the brightness of the color of this miso and soy sauce created through the special manufacturing method and for the fateful and fresh encounter of these two breweries who have teamed up for the first time. I hope this theme brings to mind the image of the pure joy that this miso and soy sauce bring to your life and to the endless possibilities of the dining table.
I hope that everyone can experience the encounter between these two products which I have fallen hopelessly in love with. In May we’ll take an exciting journey to Nitto Brewery to get to know Shirotamari and Ii-shoten’s white barley miso together.
The end of the trip is the continuation of a dream, when the products you have chosen arrive at your doorstep.
Nitto Brewery was established in Hekinan City, Aichi Prefecture in 1938. Hekinan is the birthplace of white soy sauce and the location of Nitto’s main brew house, where they have been making their soy sauce for generations.
In 1993, Nitto created the prototype of the Shirotamari they produce today. It was different from white soy sauce in that it did not contain any soybeans.
To brew Shirotamari Nitto renovated an old elementary school on the top of the mountain in Asuke, Toyota city, and have been making these products at two different locations ever since.
Aichi Prefecture is a region where high-quality fermented foods such as vinegar brand Mizkan, bean miso and tamari, mirin and sake are naturally produced. The production of white soy sauce in Japan is extremely limited and Nitto Brewery is the exclusive producer of Shirotamari.
Ii Shoten is located in Uwajima City in Ehime prefecture in the Shikoku region. Surrounded by the sea and mountains they have been making barley miso here for three generations. Barley is the raw material and has long been cultivated in large quantities in western Japan. The region has a relatively warm climate and barley produced along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea, where precipitation is low, is considered to be of particularly high quality.
Ehime Prefecture has the highest production of naked barley in Japan, and as such, is the region where barley miso is considered the norm. However, there are only a few makers that produce barley miso without soybeans in Japan.
Ii Shoten is one of those few.
When we talk about soy sauce and miso, it is typically safe to presume that they contain soybeans.
There are many ways to classify miso. For example, by color: red, white, and light colored miso. By taste: sweet or salty. Or by the name of localities such as Shinshu, Tokai, Saikyo, etc, which indicate the origin and style in which they are made.
All miso is basically made of a mixture of soybeans, koji, and salt. The most obvious way to distinguish them is by the raw materials—especially the difference in the koji.
For example, rice miso, which is the most widely distributed miso, comes from soybeans, rice koji, and salt. Barley miso comes from soybeans, barley koji, and salt. Soybean miso is made from soybean koji and salt. Each miso is made by fermenting and aging a mixture of these varied ingredients.
I grew up enjoying barley miso from Nagasaki. Many people from the nearby Setouchi and Kyushu regions are also familiar with barley miso.
So what is so different about Ii Shoten's miso? For one, it does not use any soybeans. Ii Shoten's barley miso is made by growing koji mold on naked barley, mixing it with salt, then allowing it to ferment and age in wooden barrels. Strictly speaking, using no soybeans means it does not qualify as a standard miso.
How about Nitto Brewery's Shirotamari?
Traditionally, soy sauce is a liquid filtered from the mixture of koji and brine after fermentation and aging. Koji is typically made from soybeans and wheat.
There are basically five types of soy sauce in Japan: koikuchi, usukuchi, saishikomi, tamari, shiro. They all differ in the ratio of soybeans to wheat, the amount of salt, the aging period, and whether or not they are brewed in water or in previously brewed soy sauce.
Nitto Brewery originally made shiro shoyu—white soy sauce. In 1993 they reviewed the main raw ingredients and manufacturing methods and decided to make an additional soy sauce that does not use any soybeans.
That soy sauce became Shirotamari.
However, the JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) law stipulates that soybeans must be used in the making of soy sauce. If soybeans are not used, strictly speaking, it cannot be said to be soy sauce—confused yet?
You can be forgiven for thinking you were buying a set of soy sauce and miso when neither is technically what they claim to be! So how can we clarify this?
By calling the set WHITE, an unfamiliar convention-breaking fermented seasoning becomes an entirely new product line of ‘miso and soy sauce.’
So, technicalities aside—what kind of taste and flavor do they have?
For more details, I would like to talk on the product page and on MONO JAPAN's social media which will be posted over the next month. Stay tuned.
- WHITE MISO ＆ TAMARI is presented by Malica ferments -
Live Presentation on Mono Japan Facebook
Malica Ferments will have an in-depth talk with Ii Shoten and Nitto Brewery about fermentation, Shirotamari and barley miso. Don't miss out on this exclusive live-stream!
Streamed live via Mono Japan's facebook.
May 14th (Fri.) at 15:00(CET) : Live from Ii Shoten's traditional Kura (storehouse)
May 17th (Mon.) at 9:00 (CET) : Live from Nitto Brewery's traditional Kura brewery
The duration of each live stream is about 30min.
The products are only made available through pre-order.
Pre-order starts from May 4th to June 1st, 2021
Each products are send after your purchase, the expected delivery is early July, 2021.
＊First come, first served. Limited number only.