Hazelnut Miso Recipe. Nuts seem an obvious candidate for fermentation as misos. They’re high in protein, starchy, and abundant in northern Europe.
Makes about 3 kilograms
1.9 kilograms defatted hazelnut meal
1.2 kilograms Pearl Barley Koji
120 grams non-iodized salt
Nuts seem an obvious candidate for fermentation as misos. They’re high in protein, starchy, and abundant in northern Europe. But they come with a caveat: fat. The first many times we tried hazelnut miso, rancid tones set in before complex fermented flavors developed. The rancidity stemmed from the lipids in the hazelnut breaking down as a part of normal fermentation. A. oryzae produces lipase—albeit at far lower concentrations than its other two enzymatic workhorses, amylase and protease—which cleaves fats apart into their constituent molecules (fatty acids).
When fat is whole and fresh, its flavor is delicious and satisfying, hence our intense cravings for and ability to gorge on it. Fatty acids, on the other hand, can strike us as disgusting, because we associate them with decaying (i.e., rancid) fat.
The solution? Scratch the fat. Shortly after we began trying to make hazelnut miso at Noma, the test kitchen acquired a new toy: a nut press. Nut presses grind nuts and separate the pulp from the oil by driving the mash through a heated auger. The team in the test kitchen was after nut oils for the menu, but the fermentation lab saw an opportunity: fat-free nut pulp. It offered the perfect opportunity to build a nut miso without any off-putting fatty acids, and it worked splendidly. Fortunately, you don’t need to purchase a large piece of industrial machinery to make this miso. You can find low-fat or defatted hazelnut meal online.
The in-depth instructions for Yellow Peaso serve as a template for all the miso recipes in this chapter. We recommend you read that recipe before starting in on this one.
Heat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Spread the hazelnut meal onto baking sheets and toast in the oven until lightly browned and aromatic, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to ensure that the meal browns evenly. Cool to room temperature on the counter. Reweigh the meal. You want to end up with 1.8 kilograms, but the nut meal will lose moisture, and thus weight, during toasting, which is why we start with 1.9 kilos.
While the hazelnut meal is toasting, grind the barley koji in a food processor until it’s well broken up.
Combine the toasted hazelnut meal, koji, and salt in a bowl. Wearing gloves, mix everything thoroughly. Unlike peaso, where the texture is often close to spot-on from the start, dryness
can be a problem with hazelnut miso. You will almost certainly need to add moisture. Make a quick 4% salt brine by blending 4 grams salt into 100 grams water with a handheld blender or whisk until the salt has completely dissolved. Add a little bit of the brine at a time, until you can squeeze the mixture into a ball in your fist.
Pack the mixture tightly into the fermentation vessel. Smooth and level the top, wipe the insides of the vessel clean, and sprinkle the surface with salt. Weight down and cover
the hazelnut miso, according to the directions outlined in the yellow peaso recipe. Let the hazelnut miso ferment at room temperature for 3 to 4 months. Once the hazelnut miso is fermented, you can blend it with a bit of water until smooth and then pass it through a tamis. Pack the finished miso in airtight jars or containers and store in the refrigerator for a month or freezer for a few months.
Peel and halve golf ball–size sweet onions from stem to root, then toss them lightly in a bit of oil before grilling them facedown over hot coals. Once the faces of the onions caramelize and blacken, remove them from the grill grates and wrap them in foil. Set the foil packet off to the side of the grill to allow the onions to continue to cook until tender but still offer a little bite, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the packet and shuck the petals into a bowl. Toss them with a big spoonful of the hazelnut miso, pureed and passed through a sieve, a bit more oil, salt, pepper, and picked thyme and oregano leaves. It’s a great side dish as is, but you could also toss the onion petals with a mixture of watercress, dandelion, and arugula.
Once you taste it for the first time, hazelnut miso will almost certainly replace any nut butter as your new favorite. And if you think of it as a nut butter, it’s easy to come up with ways to use it. For a quick example, smear a spoonful of hazelnut miso onto graham crackers the next time you’re making s’mores with (or without) the kids.
Excerpted from The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Evan Sung. Illustrations by Paula Troxler.