Organic Miso, Tofu, Rice Coming Your Way

Japanese Organic Food Image

Clearspring Ltd. is doing something remarkable - making traditional, organic Japanese foods available in Europe and other parts of the world. High quality rice, miso (fermented soybeans) and tofu are treasures that everyone who cares about the environment is probably already eating. But unless the foods are produced locally, without chemicals and no fossile fuel-guzzling fertilizers (and no Genetically Modified Organisms are currently grown in Japan), you may wonder what it is you are stuffing yourself with.

Clearspring has the details:

Japanese food experts John and Jan Belleme describe their first, memorable encounter with the Onozaki family, and detail the production methods that have remained unchanged for centuries.

Hoping to learn the art of making traditional miso, in the autumn of 1979, we set out to find a miso master with a big heart and a willingness to teach. With the help of Akiyoshi Kazama, president of Mitoku Company, we found such a man - Takamichi Onozaki. From his family shop located in a small village in rural Japan, Onozaki produced over 100 tons of organic barley and brown rice miso each year. This was a sizable amount, considering the simplicity of his equipment and size of his labour force. Our eight-month stay with the Onozaki family had a profound, positive influence on our lifestyle, health, and appreciation for traditional Japanese food and culture.

Japanese Organic Miso Food Image

Good sushi rice needs to be sticky, and this is dependent on the level of the starch components amylase - which should be low and amylopectin - which should be high. You can make good sushi with rice produced outside of Japan: Clearspring uses Italian rice from the Piedmont. Antonio Tinarelli is the agronomist who - with the help of his son Giorgio - grows Clearspring Organic Sushi Rice.

Antonio use the organic farming method of crop rotation to produce his rice. This helps to reduce the build-up of pathogens and pests in the soil while maintaining its fertility and natural balance. In turn, the need for artificial fertilisers and pesticides is removed which ensures the creation of an organic product that truly respects the land that it is grown on. Clearspring also offers Japanese sake, the rice wine brewed in a traditional way.

Christopher Dawson Onozaki Miso Japan Image

Chairman Christopher Dawson was born in 1953, at New Plymouth Hospital, New Zealand and opened and managed the East West Natural Foods Store at the Community Health Foundation, Old Street, London in 1977. Christopher studied Japanese foods and production, worked with the producers to develop products to suit the needs of customers abroad and help the producers become compliant with EU organic certification. In May 2007, he received the Award for Overseas Promotion of Japanese Food 2007 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, for his distinguished contribution to the promotion of Japanese organic food worldwide.


Kyoto-style White Miso Soup
Simplicity and a flavourful stock are the beauty of this authentic recipe. Other vegetables may be added.

Serves 4

3-inch strip Clearspring Kombu
3 Clearspring Shiitake mushrooms
1L (4 cups) cold water
1 block of tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 salad onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp Clearspring Organic Sweet White Miso
Watercress sprigs and/or decorative carrot rings

1. Place the kombu, shiitake and water in a saucepan and soak for at least 15 minutes. Heat over a medium flame and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove the kombu and shiitake and reserve for other use. (They can be sliced and cooked with beans or vegetables.)

2. Add the tofu and salad onion, and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

3. Dilute the miso in a little broth, add to the soup, and allow to rest briefly before serving.

Recipe by John and Jan Belleme, authors of Japanese Foods That Heal, Tuttle Publishing, 2007

Brought to you by Martin Frid at

Related Content on