When I went to Kagoshima this spring, the southernmost prefecture on the Kyushu island in Japan, I picked up a jar of pork miso. Renowned for its kurobuta, sweet, juicy Berkshire pork, Kagoshima is serious about its pork products. The pork miso–basically a slightly cooked-down mixture of ground pork, ginger, some root vegetables, sesame sees, peanuts, sugar and miso–served us well as rice topping, stir-fry seasoning and occasional breakfast addition for a couple of months, and I just ran out this morning when I made seasoned sweet miso eggs for breakfast.
The pork miso was a variation of a super-versatile seasoned sweet miso that I’d made before, and recipes abound. I suspect it’s one of those things that each family has its own recipe, which gets handed down and tweaked through generations, unless I’m totally romanticizing the whole thing. It’s basically miso sweetened with sugar (or mirin, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, whatever you like) and supported by a few aromatics like ginger, scallions, etc.
Because it’s cooked with oil and contains lots of salt and sugar, it keeps well in the fridge, and makes a fun and versatile marinade, stir-fry seasoning, and so on. Top a piece of chilled sturdy tofu with this stuff, and you have a side dish in less than 20 seconds. Mix it with mayo, and it makes a delicious, vaguely Asian crudité dip. I like to use it in scrambled eggs, too, where it adds an amazing umami depth to the whole dish and goes beautifully with cheese, surprisingly enough.
The version I’d made (and absolutely loved) had a ton of shiso leaves and some subtle kick from a jalapeño. I don’t remember where I got the original recipe from, but here’s my version:
Seasoned Sweet Miso Recipe
- 1/2 cup yellow miso
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 1-2 bunch shiso leaves, roughly chopped (Totally optional, but recommended. The result is about 87% more delicious.)
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- A bit of ground pork or minced bacon (Totally optional.)
- About a tablespoon of minced carrot, burdock root or a mixture (Totally optional.)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Heat the sesame oil in a small non-stick pot
- Add the sesame seeds, jalapeño and ginger. Fry until flagrant, stirring frequently.
- If using, add the meaty ingredients and root vegetables. Stir-fry until cooked through.
- Add the miso, sugar and shiso leaves. Combine thoroughly and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, for 5 minutes or so until the mixture gains a lustrous look.
- Store in a clean jar in the fridge. This should last for a month or so.
As I ran out of the Kagoshima jar, I might be making this one again pretty soon!
- Sweet seasoned miso eggs with Cubanelle peppers and fried tofu
- Peanut butter toast