Here we report on some preliminary experiments to drive the speciation of tofu misozuke into heretofore unexplored habitats – we’re trying out new ingredients to add to the basic miso marinade. We experimented with yuzu, shiitake, and rooibos. Yuzu and shiitake both came from the native habitat of tofu misozuke. Rooibos is a red tea made from plants native to South Africa. We were blown away by this last, non-terroir based combination. Tofu miso-rooibos-zuke was fragrant with contributions from both ingredients, and the flavor was rich in umami from miso and a sweetness from the rooibos. Not bad for a flavor dreamed up while sipping rooibos tea!
Rooibos tea is one of my favorite things to drink late at night, when tea tea (from Camellia sinensis) would prevent me from going to sleep. Rooibos tea is more fragrant and less tannic than tea tea. The flavor is earthy yet clean, it’s also the perfect drink to pack for a bracing hike – at least that’s where I first encountered rooibos and it’s stuck ever since.
Oanh and I call each other miso bumpkin sometimes, based on some third hand information about how homemade miso has retreated to the countryside in Japan and the smell of miso given off by someone who makes miso at home stereotypes him as a bumpkin. I have no idea what the social significance of a miso-rooibos scent might be.
But it was a good combination. Rooibos introduced a different sort of complexity to the previously monolithic miso and soy theme. There were the new sweetness of leaf sugars which lessened the sensation of salt and made for a more accessible bite and left a nice after taste. But there’s a price, too – the intensity and starkness of the original tofu misozuke were diminished. Kind of like the difference between an electric blues band and a grizzled porch-bound singer hollerin’ and moanin’ along with a guitar, say. We do think the addition of new flavor complexity outweighed the diminished intensity and created a unique and distinctive variant.
Lastly, we’re experimenting more to optimize combining miso with shiitake. There’s a lot of potential there, but we’re still bouncing between capturing a bit too much shiitake flavor and getting nothing out of them. Back to the laboratory!