On Sunday, a week ago, I felt an urgent need to preserve something and since it was too early to pickle my staple yearly batch of peppers, chillies or tomatoes, I decided to do something new with the fresh tender garlic I had bought at the market. Leafing through the pickling book I bought last year in Japan (Japanese only) I proudly embarked on my very first miso zuke (miso pickling) adventure. The pickles should be ready to taste in a month’s time, so I cannot share with you my impressions yet, but since young garlic is quickly growing tougher, I thought I’d post it as soon as I can in case you want to experiment with softer garlic cloves too.
Many people associate Japanese pickling with short-term techniques, some requiring only one hour, but the Japanese world of preserves is very rich and apart from instant or short-term pickles (one to several days), there are a lot of long-term preserving methods, which require some patience, and this recipe is one of their best examples. Miso (fermented soy sauce paste, used in the famous miso soups) is often mixed with some other ingredients, creating a so called “miso bed” or marinade (misodoko), but my recipe called for miso alone. Vegetables are simply burrowed in the miso bed and fermentation process changes their taste. I haven’t tasted the results yet (I’ll update this post as soon as I do), but the garlic pickled in miso I tasted in Japan was sensational, so I hope I’ll like my experimental first batch too.
If this experiment works, it will be a memorable moment because it was also the first time I used a book bought last year in Japan (click here), driven by an ambitious decision to practice my reading and learn new recipes at the same time, obviously with a little help from my Japanese friends… I am a bit ashamed to say that it was the first time I tried a recipe from it, but such a simple one was a very encouraging start.
If you look for new ways to use miso, check WHAT TO DO WITH MISO? page featuring more than a dozen recipes.
TIPS: Young, soft garlic cloves are advised here, but not necessary, so feel free to use older, drier ones. They might only take more time to “ripen” (according to what I read on internet, you should wait two months before tasting older garlic).
You can easily reuse this miso for next pickling batch or simply the way you would use “new” miso (soups, marinades, stir-fries). I wonder if the miso “bed” becomes garlicky… I hope it does! (I’ll update this information when the tasting time comes).
You can use any miso you have. I have used red miso here.
NOTE: In case you are wondering, the red spots you see at the photograph are not chilli flakes (surprising in my case… I know!), but red koji (“koji” is a mould used to ferment soybeans). The red koji’s presence is the reason why I brought this miso (it was the first time I saw such a miso), among others, from Japan. I don’t know if it’s thanks to red koji, but it’s excellent, so I will buy several packages next time. In case you travel to Japan, I have bought the miso in Mitsukoshi department store (Nihonbashi, Tokyo) and strongly recommend it.
Preparation: 5 minutes (ready to eat in one month)
peeled garlic cloves (preferably young; if you use older garlic, cut off the tough ends too)
miso (without any additives; check well the ingredients!); an amount necessary to cover completely garlic cloves
Place a layer of miso in a jar or another glass or ceramic container with a lid (avoid plastic!).
Put the cloves over the miso (so that they don’t touch the bottom of the container) and cover with another layer of miso (you shouldn’t be able to see the garlic).
Squash well the miso with a spoon to make sure there are no air bubbles (I did it just after making this photographs, so the air bubbles you see were eliminated).
Place in a cool place (I have put it in the warmest place in the fridge) and taste after one month or minimum two, if you use older garlic.