for the last fortnight the kitchen at thirty-two has been having a miso affair. it all started with an article on bon appétit on ten unexpected ways to use miso. the recipe that caught my eye was apricot-miso jam. it mirrors the practice of using a salty element to pique sweetness. think salted caramel and salted chocolate. earlier this year i made confiture de lait using maldon sea salt. the result was a sweet-salty spreadable caramel with a decidedly grown up flavour. it was the sophisticated equivalent of the sickly sweet chewy ones that i grew up eating.
but to return to apricot jam. before mama started making jam we'd get mitchell's jams. their apricot jam had a bit of texture but was super sweet. i ate this spread thickly on toast buttered with lightly salted nurpur. during my university years i ate marks and spencer apricot preserves. however, as of late apricot preserves have struck me as being quite tasteless. fresh apricots in england and even in the united states are an even greater disappointment. they do not have the heady fragrance that pakistani apricots have and are flavourless. the apricots of my childhood had a soft downy skin and the taste of wild flower honey. it was by accident that i discovered that soft dried turkish apricots have somewhat of that flavour. since the base of the apricot-miso jam is dried apricots, i decided to make it.
the result was a beautiful saffron-orange jam. the miso gives it a glossy appearance as well as a savoury-sweet flavour. the original recipe does not use sweetener but since i tweaked it, i added two tablespoons of honey and varied the amount of miso. i substituted mirin sake (cooking sake) for the sake in the recipe. as always curious about the effects of ingredients, i looked up sake in the oxford companion to food. sake is used as a tenderizer, to preserve delicate flavours and to tame saltiness. the last effect is easily identifiable in the jam. you can find the original recipe here.
|chopped apricots and cherries|
[adapted from justin cucci’s recipe on bonappétit]
this recipe makes enough to fill two four hundred and thirty ml jars plus a couple of extra teaspoons which i put into a bowl for immediate use.
five hundred grams soft apricots, chopped
one hundred grams dried cherries, chopped
three quarter cup mirin sake
quarter cup lemon juice
two cups water
one whole star anise
half a cinnamon stick
one small bayleaf
three slices of fresh ginger (medium thickness)
quarter cup white miso
two tablespoons runny honey
zest of a lemon
a cheesecloth for the spices
a food processor
two four hundred and thirty ml jam jars
|star anise, cinnamon and a bay leaf|
place the apricots, cherries, mirin sake, lemon juice and water in a large saucepan and let soak for two hours.
place the spices in the cheesecloth and secure with a knot or some kitchen twine. add them to the pan. bring to a simmer over medium heat. then reduce the heat to low and let cook until the moisture evaporates.
at this point let the jam cool a bit and then roughly process three quarters of it. i like a smoother jam which is why i did this. you can skip this step if you like a very chunky jam.
return the processed jam to saucepan and reheat on low heat. mix together the miso with the honey and introduce it to the jam. continue to cook the jam for ten to fifteen minutes until it thickens. iuse grigson’s jar sterilisation technique to jar my jam as it is very easy.
breakfast today was a large teaspoon of apricot-miso jam stirred through greek yoghurt. this is the breakfast that will satisfy both sweet and savoury cravings. greek yoghurt has a balanced creaminess. cream would soften the salty fruitiness of the jam but a tart yoghurt has the opposite effect as it amplifies both. the star anise gives the jam a spicy aroma.
i think i’ve found the perfect version of my childhood favourite.