Tamamiso / dried miso ball
Negi / Welsh onion
Katsuobushi / bonito flakes
. . . each in moderate amounts
How to Make
1. Chop all ingredients.
2. Spoon on warm rice and enjoy. Extras can be stored and used as a dressing for tofu or cucumber.
Here, I also used the tamamiso in combination with boiled Japanese mustard spinach and carrot, as a dressing for cucumber, and to make miso soup.
I discovered the plump, round tamamiso several years ago. The dried miso balls are made by just a few people today, mainly around Shimonoho, in the Mugi area of Seki City, Gifu Prefecture. It turns out my grandmother used to make it, too. Tamamiso was so mainstream around here that it was the only definition of “miso.” The ball shape was convenient to carry, and people who went to work in the mountain dissolved the miso in water and dropped a heated stone in the liquid to make an instant miso soup, or enjoyed it as is with rice.
Tamamiso production starts in January. The soybeans are steamed, pounded, rolled into balls, and pierced with a skewer to create a hole in the center. The ring-shaped donut forms are then strung on straw cords and left to dry for about three months. The dried balls are further immersed in a mixture of soy sauce and koji (rice malt) until around November. In the old days, when soy sauce was a luxury, a mixture of koji and salt water was used instead, resulting in a plainer flavor. Because the miso is dried thoroughly before steeping, the completed balls are thicker and firmer than ordinary paste miso.
This recipe is classic and I learned it from a local mom who makes tamamiso. Combine chopped tamamiso, Welsh onion, and bonito flakes, and spoon on rice —this promises to have you coming back for seconds. I also used chopped tamamiso in combination with boiled Japanese mustard spinach and carrot, as a dressing for cucumber, and to make miso soup. Sliced tamamiso makes the perfect accompaniment for sake.
Tamamiso is hard to come by nowadays, but I thought the delicious ball packed with traditional wisdom was well worth an introduction.
The roadside station Michi-no-Eki Heisei, in Seki City, Gifu Prefecture, carries ready-made tamamiso.
minokamo | Cookery expert / Photographer
Gifu Prefecture native minokamo’s culinary adventures were inspired by her fond childhood memories of cooking with her grandmother. She researches, writes about, and arranges regional dishes that capture, through their preparation and presentation, sensory enjoyments inspired by local climate, history, and lifestyles. Ryori tabi kara tadaima(Back from a Cooking Journey; Fudosha), published in September 2020, is a collection of recipes from minokamo’s visits to homes up and down Japan.