Editor’s note: The theme of Gohan Lab is to help people make simple, tasty “gohan” (meals).

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Miso is a seasoning rich in regional characteristics. A variety of miso is made according to the climates and natural features of local areas as well as the tastes that are preferred there.

Bean miso, made solely from soybeans, is mainly produced in the Tokai region, including in Aichi Prefecture. Dark brown in color, it not only boasts a savory “umami” but also a distinctive astringency and bitterness.

Many readers may be familiar with it through popular regional dishes such as “miso nikomi-udon,” where “udon” noodles are simmered in miso-flavored broth, and “miso katsu,” or breaded deep-fried pork cutlet served with miso sauce.

This week’s recipe “miso-dare oden” is a variation of “oden,” a hotpot consisting of several ingredients such as daikon radish, fish cakes, boiled eggs and many more, this time to be enjoyed with a sauce made of bean miso.

Light on sweetness, the sauce brings out the flavor of the bean miso. You could add more sugar if you care for sweetness. To balance the strong flavor of the bean miso, the oden’s ingredients are simmered in lightly seasoned broth.

Since the recipe produces a little more sauce than you need, you can use the remainder on grilled tofu or eggplant.

The arranged version is a chicken sukiyaki hotpot flavored with bean miso, an enjoyable twist on the usual sukiyaki.


(Supervised by Akiko Watanabe in the cooking aspect and Midori Kasai in the cookery science aspect)

* Ingredients (Serves two)

150 grams daikon radish, 1/2 (130 grams) block konjac, 2 (90 grams) “satsuma-age” fish cake

Ingredients for simmering liquid (2 and 1/2 cups dashi stock, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sweet mirin sake, bit of salt)

Ingredients for miso sauce (Amount enough to serve two people twice: 2 Tbsp bean miso (mame-miso), 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp sweet mirin sake, 4 Tbsp water)

About 145 kcal and 3.3 grams salt per portion

1. Peel daikon radish and cut into 2 cm-thick semicircles. Microwave at 600W for 4 minutes. Make lattice-like incisions at an angle on both sides of konjac, cut in half lengthwise and then cut each piece diagonally into triangles. Slice each piece so the thickness is halved (PHOTO A). Boil konjac pieces for 2 minutes and drain in sieve. Dip fish cake in boiling water to remove oil. Skewer each ingredient.

PHOTO A: When angled incisions are made on the konjac, the sauce will attach more easily. The thickness is halved for ease of eating. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

2. Add ingredients for simmering liquid into pot, then add daikon radish, konjac, fish cake and place on medium heat. When it comes to a boil, simmer on low heat for 15 minutes (PHOTO B).

PHOTO B: For safety, do not let the sharp tip of the bamboo skewer stick out from the ingredients. When adding the ingredients to the pot, adjust the direction of the skewers so they will become immersed in the simmering liquid. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

3. Add ingredients for miso sauce in another pot, mix and place on low heat. Mix with spatula as if peeling off the mixture from the bottom. Reduce sauce until thick so that it can be applied to the ingredients (PHOTO C).

PHOTO C: Be careful since heated miso sauce could splash and be quite hot. It is better to keep the heat level low and use a spatula with a long handle. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)
Be careful since heated miso sauce could splash and be quite hot. It is better to keep the heat level low and use a spatula with a long handle.

4. Pour miso sauce on the oden pieces.

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Akiko Watanabe is a cooking expert specializing in Japanese cuisine.

Midori Kasai is a professor emerita at Ochanomizu University and former chairwoman of the Japan Society of Cookery Science.


Miso-flavored sukiyaki (Serves two)

Miso-flavored sukiyaki (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

To make miso-flavored sukiyaki, use 200 grams chicken thigh cut thinly into bite-size slices. Cut 1/2 long onion (naganegi type) at an angle into 5 mm-thick pieces. Remove hard end of 50 grams “shimeji” mushrooms and separate roughly. Add 3 Tbsp bean miso, 3/4 cup dashi stock and 2 Tbsp sweet mirin sake in a pot and bring to a boil. Spread chicken slices and add to pot and simmer for 3 minutes on low heat. Add long onion and shimeji and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.


A mixture of more than two types of miso that vary in the ingredient for the “koji,” taste or production area, is called “awase-miso” (combined miso). If you mix miso with different characters, such as “rice miso and bean miso” or “sweet white miso and salty red miso,” it adds an interesting touch to the flavor. A quite distinctive miso will become mellow and rich in flavor.

The Asahi Shimbun

43 select articles compiled into a book

“Chorikagaku-de Motto Oishiku Teiban-ryori 1”

The Gohan Lab articles have been compiled into a book.

It includes 43 recipes and arranged dishes such as boiled eggs cooked into desired hardness by adjusting the time and a soup with umami-rich ingredients of chicken, tomato and mushroom.

The book comes with a bonus that gives you access to watch five videos of popular recipes including “spaghetti carbonara.”

The book in Japanese and titled “Chorikagaku-de Motto Oishiku Teiban-ryori 1” (Staple dishes made tastier with cooking science 1) is in A4 size and has 100 pages.

Priced at 980 yen ($8.6) including tax, it is available at bookstores and ASA (Asahi-Shimbun Service Anchor) delivery outlets nationwide.

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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Gohan Lab column