Saikyo Miso, an elegantly pale, mild, and highly versatile ingredient from Kyoto, has been used in a variety of both sweet and savory dishes in the Kyoto-style cuisine for centuries. It is mild and sweet, with less sodium than typical miso. Saikyo Miso can be used across a variety of dishes: on its own as a dip for vegetable crudités, in miso soup, or as a fish or meat marinade (commonly known as Saikyo-yaki). It's also one of the ingredients Naoko (a.k.a. Mrs. Donabe) uses frequently in her cooking. One of her favorite dishes, Kyoto-Style Saikyo Miso Hot Pot, is introduced in her DONABE Cookbook.
During the 1,000-year period when Kyoto was Japan’s capital city, Saikyo Miso was a special ingredient in imperial palace ceremonial feasts, as well as Zen Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, which became an integral part of Kyoto cuisine through the present day. Unlike typical miso which uses a higher ratio of soybean to koji rice (malted rice), Saikyo Miso uses more than double the amount of rice to soybean ratio, creating a miso with mild taste, less sodium, and elegant color. The fact that Saikyo Miso uses more rice in its production meant that it was a historically prized and valuable miso.
Premium Class Saikyo Miso, "Takumi"
Made from high quality soybeans and rice grown in Japan, with mineral-rich "Ako-jio" sea salt, this Saikyo Miso "Takumi" is a premium-grade Saikyo Miso. Also, Takumi uses more than twice as much koji rice than soybeans, creating a rich, mild, and sweeter miso than typical miso.
Over 200-Year-Old Family Owned Miso Brewery
Saikyo Miso is recognized in Japan as being produced by Honda Miso. Now in its eighth generation, the Honda family has been brewing Saikyo Miso with singularly masterful skill for nearly 200 years, supplying the Imperial Palace and the general public with miso since their inception.
In her cookbook, DONABE, Naoko and her co-author, renowned chef Kyle Connaughton (Single Thread Farm, awarded with Michelin 3 stars in 2018), document their visit to Honda Miso’s production facility near Kyoto’s Imperial Palace. Their Saikyo Miso brewing process at Honda Miso takes place in Kyoto’s Tanba region, known for its water’s natural purity, which is essential for flavorful miso. Their production facility maintains ancestral brewing techniques, while also incorporating modern developments such as temperature control, in the production of the highest quality Saikyo Miso.