One of the things I like best about “eating out”, in addition to the food itself of course, is the inspiration I get from finding new dishes. This is an example of one such inspiration. It is my attempt to reproduce the grilled walnut miso we had at Honoka. I made two attempts and the second one was much better which is the one shown below. It tasted very similar to what we had at Honoka.
Miso: For this, I used “awase-miso” 合わせ味噌 made of soy bean but using both rice and wheat “kouji” 米麹、麦麹 thinking this kind of miso would be savory and a bit sweeter but not too sweet for this dish but, I am sure, any good quality miso will do.
Walnuts: I used American black walnuts (whole). My wife toasted them in the toaster oven for me and rubbed the skin off using a dish towel. I chopped up half. I ground the remaining half in a Suribach すり鉢 mortar to make smooth walnut paste.
The amount is arbitrary but for two small bamboo spatulas (below), I used about 2tbs of the miso and 1 tbs of the walnuts paste. I mixed in mirin to adjust the consistency and sweetness (about 1-2 tbs). I tasted this mixture and was satisfied with the balance of saltiness and sweetness and did not add any sugar. I then mixed in the chopped walnuts (2 tbs).
I smeared the miso mixture thinly on both bamboo spatulas (these are a bit larger than ones at Honoka). I grilled the miso using a direct gas fire. I used a low flame and grilled them from few inches above the flame. I did it slowly and it took about 5 minutes as I moved the spatulas to make sure the entire surface was evenly grilled and not too quickly charred (see below).
This was not bad for a quick re-production. It had plenty of walnut flavor and savory miso was not too sweet or salty which was enhanced by the grilling process. This was indescribably good between sips of sake. It also took us back to the great time we had at Honoka.