The Power and Heat of A.oryzae (koji)

The last few weeks have been like a book tour – although I haven’t been able to write much on those I’m working on. Besides, as my friend and colleague Harry Rosenblum of Brooklyn Kitchen, Heritage Radio Network, Sumo Stew and Vinegar Revival fame said tonight nothing is ever really newly discovered in the world of food and brewing, just a repackaging and re-presentation of things people have stumbled upon in the last several thousand years.

One of my mentors when I was the Executive Chef of Bloomingdales Fresh Foods Department, Lester Gribetz taught me a great lesson when I was a very young chef who was allowed to cook 3 star Michelin Chef Michel Guérard’s food for their in house shop on 59th Street as well as to present my own line of tseukemono and freshly prepared foods.

Precious doesn’t sell well, and not at all if it requires too much customer effort.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank Bill Hyde. When he was the head of the Fresh foods department he always made sure I had access to gallons of fresh truffles, mushrooms, and rare items from around the world. Once a week Petrossian, another shop I oversaw but obviously had no input into the making of smoked salmon or fish eggs or foie gras, would send me a ten pound tin of Beluga, lots of foie gras and smoked salmon.

It helped me make friends with a large number of celebrities and socialites – because I wouldn’t eat any of it and that type of dealing was big in the 80’s.

Bill taught me about oil. Back then the concept of extra virgin olive oil was a big deal. Unrefined and non-chemically modified oils were pretty rare. Huge chunks of hydrogenated lard mixed with other oils and substances for deep fat fryers were common. He refused to authorize payment for any of it. He also made sure I had access to any natural lard. nut oils, rice bran oil, and a spectacular selection of olive oils from around the world.

Fats and oils are cooking mediums, or seasoning ingredients. The mold called Koji – typically Aspergillus oryzae in Japan where spore subspecies isolation was first initiated on a regular basis to make sake, shochu, soy sauce, miso, amasake, and pickles – can be used in the same way.

Koji is thought of as a live ingredient that can both create and act as an enzyme. Imagine being able to create exogenous heat from a dried inoculated grain. Like cooking on a stove you can control what amount of heat you want, and what you want your live mold to accomplish.

You can make miso, shio-koji, sake, shoyu-koji, shoyu, amasake, shochu, beer, and pickles with koji. Depending on what type of koji you have, you can create fish sauce or even cure meat with it.

There are hundreds of different enzymes that koji can create when interactiong with food, and even when just being grown on a carbohydrate substrate (the thing the mold eats).

This Saturday I will be starting a series of presentations to present ideas on easy, sane ways to use koji. A while ago a study came out – okay, perhaps a qualitative survey – about what people like to cook. Some don’t want anything to do with it. Some want fast and very easy. Some haven’t a clue what most ingredients even are.

Come this Saturday and we’ll talk about all those things and how koji might be the best thing since sliced bread. Or heritage grain sourdough wood fire oven baked miche that your tear apart with your hands. Either way you should know how to control the heat and power of koji.

All the details right here. FermentFerment 2017 this Saturday Nov. 17, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York.

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Koji and its Decendents

Chef Ken will share a presentation on miso, shoyu, and shio-koji, and how you can use them to make pickles!

Chef Ken Fornataro has been fermenting and preserving fish, grains and legumes with A. oryzae for decades. Ken was appointed Executive Chef of The Hermitage in Boston in the 70s. He found himself ducking out the back door to Erewhon, where he befriended Aveline and Michio Kushi, Bill Shurtleff and other chefs who taught him traditional Japanese and Russian foods and fermentation techniques – including koji, amasake, miso, shio-koji, shoyu, sake, shoyu-koji and many kinds of tseukemono.

Ken continues to study microbiology, food, and fermentation. He has served as Executive Chef, Sous-Chef and Garde Manger of numerous restaurants. Ken is the Executive Chef and acting CEO, pro bono, of culturesgroup.net

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culturesgroup

culturesgroup offers food preparation, preservation and fermentation education and information. We share and collaborate with individuals, other educators, and businesses through e-books and internet meetings, printed materials, videos, photos, and presentations on:

• the preservation and demonstration of food cultures and techniques

• wild yeasts, koji, grains and SCOBYs to create sake, beer and beverages

• fermentation and food history, culture and semiotics

• the use of aspergillum and lactobacillus throughout the world to create:

Miso • Sake • Mirin • Tseukemono • Koji • Tamari • Shoyu • Legumes • Cheese • Cultures • Fish Sauce • Amazake • Milk Kefir • Wild Yeasts • Food History • Kimchee •  Whole Grains • Sourdough

http://www.culturesgroup.net

E-mail: culturesgroup@earthlink.net

Twitter: @culturesgroup

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/#culturesgroup   https://culturesgroup.tumblr.com/post/132198811435/wwwculturesgroupnet

Instagram: @culturesgroup

https://www.facebook.com/groups/aspergillus/

https://www.facebook.com/culturesgroup

For the last 40 years Ken Fornataro has been fermenting and preserving grains, legumes and other proteins with A. oryzae.  Ken was appointed Executive Director of The Hermitage in Boston at 19 years old, and left both Brown University and Northeastern University. He found himself ducking out the back door to Erewhon, where he befriended Aveline and Michio Kushi, Bill Shurtleff and other macrobiotic practitioners and Japanese chefs, who taught him traditional Japanese fermentation — including koji, amasake, miso, shio-koji, shoyu, sake, shoyu-koji and many kinds of tseukemono.

Since then, Ken has continued his study of microbiology, food, 五大明王,  and transformative processes including fermentation. He has served as Executive Chef, Sous-Chef and Garde Manger of numerous restaurants, and has engaged in other business development — including founding and directing a non-profit organization, which made a significant contribution to developing a cure for HCV and treatment advances for HIV/AIDS.

Ken is the author of 32 publications on science and research primarily through the New York State Department of Health and The Kaiser Family Foundation. He is working on a book series related to food, fermentation, and aspergillus in conjunction with his role as founder, Executive Chef and CEO of culturesgroup.net, an educational venture dedicated to traditions in food preparation, preservation and fermentation.

HRN Radio: http://heritageradionetwork.org/podcast/ken-fornataro/

#miso, #microbiology , #学生, #漬物, #麹 , #魚, #酵母, #酒, #金山寺みそ,  #kinzanjimiso

 

麹Culturesgroup: Section 9

We’re releasing an as of yet unfished or final version of our serialized publication Culturesgroupin nine sections. Section 9 is our What’s going On? section. We decided to release this now because we might not be able to get this out before our original anticipated launch date, and because the natural disasters that have been occurring in the Houston and Texas area, and Florida, and the Caribbean and California have greatly impacted a lot of people – including us.
While we hope our friends are safe and rebound quickly we still have a lot of work to do around the US to help people recover  – including quite a few friends and family members. We still welcome volunteers to write. If you are mentioned here and would like to submit additional things for us to look at please do to culturesgroup@earthlink.net
While Ken is with お父さん in New Jersey, reading and writing, and keeping many family and friends from Florida safe, check out the many links provided and get to this presentation by Rich from ourcookquest.com in Cambridge, MA or get to Great Barrington Fairgrounds in MA for BerkshireFerments.
We are one of the sponsors of this event. And we strongly support Rich and the folks at @ourcookquest. Either event, the weather should be beautiful. That’s what the eggs at our Buddha shrine are for, そおですね?

菌1.9 – What’s going on?

Cooking with Koji is really one of our favorite sites. The photos that she took for her shoyu-koji preparation using pre-made koji are very nice and useful. Check out here for the shoyu-koji recipe. You will not be disappointed.

You could also go to our friends at OurCookQuest.com to learn how to make your own koji – pretty simple, but also available readily in the US either directly or from people that make or sell it – you could get a 35 lb box of US made koji or 40 pounds of sake kasu (lees) through MTC Kitchen, for example – or through a smaller company. You could also get some amazing shoyu and other products through our friends Chef Chris Dunmore and co-owner Chris Bonomo at TheJapanesePantry.com

E-mail us if you want some other sources to purchase stuff. Although that’s 菌1.8 That incudes letting us know about something you are offering, hosting, showing.

Then again, video, Youtube, Vimeo, Films, etc reviews and listings we like is 菌1.7 (見せてください). We’re doing a review of our friends Mara King, Sandor Katz, and an amazing release from The Foundation for Fermentation Fervor, a series called the P.R.F. – because we want to watch the entire series again and again.

菌1.6 is food and fermentation related Kanji 男文字 (おとこもじ) – we love this reading. First up Harry Rosenblum. The author of one of the best books of the year: Vinegar Revival. We highly recommend this book. Harry is also the co-owner with Taylor Erkkinen of The Brooklyn Kitchen, a really cool place to learn about a wide range of topics.  Guess what the Kanji is?

Mustard
Mustard made with koji and sake and poached egg whites, Year 2

 The reason we mention Rich and friends @ourcookquest at Twitter or OurCookQuest’s Instagram account is that he’s the only one we’ve ever heard of besides us and the people that make a a drink called Koji , a tasty multi-grain amasake type beverage, who dare to make some pretty wild stuff with koji – including cheese, dairy based-amasake, and milk kefir.

菌1.5 is all about people doing interesting and cool things. Our first interview is with Kirsten and Christopher Shockley them around the country and had originally hoped to see them at the upcoming Berkshire Fermentation Festival but they won’t be there. Check out their sponsors and you’ll see why you should try to get there if you can. Our friend Cheryl Paswater from Contraband Ferments will be there!

We’ve been following Kirsten and Christopher Shockey since their first book was released, and will publish some really great photographs they took that are not published in their second book. Maybe even a discussion or two about some of the new great recipes. You can still see them on their ongoing tour  or even check out their wonderful website.

菌1.4 will be all about our favorite drink that contains our favorite mycellia ever: Aspergillus oryzae or koji. Sake, of course, and we’ll give you a short primer on the koji that is used to make sake.

 

We’re hoping to get some input from our friends at Brooklyn Kura but either way you will soon be able to buy some of the best sake we’ve ever tasted from them. We also continue our reviews of sake made in the USA and Japan, of course.

If you are lucky enough to live on the upper west coast right around where our friend Tara Whitsett lives – her book which we have already seen but do not have in our hands, yet – should be out any day now but watch her Instagram account – our friends at SakeOne are right nearby.

Believe the hype! Their new Moonstone type sake – Asian Pear Junmai Daiginjo – sounds a lot like our wildly heralded experimental Honeydew melon sake of a few years ago – but they have the refrigerators, and equipment and space we don’t have access to so we’re pretty sure theirs is beyond great. And these guys will be at the event below as well!

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#joyofsake, indeed!

If you are in New York City on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 from 6:30pm–9:30pm check this spectacular event out. It’s a beyond amazing event. Check this out now! It does cost $110 dollars, however, and if there are still any tickets left we’ll gladly accept one or a complimentary pass for the event. Or barter for the best local, organic miso you have ever tasted?

Just the food alone, though, is always amazing. Of course, both the sake and the food from great restaurants available in one place at one time from hundreds of breweries is a life’s dream come true for an American that has never been to a big show in Japan. Actually, for anyone into sake or Japanese food.

More to come

菌1.2 – nope, we did not miss 菌1.3 or 菌1.1 or 菌1.0 – is all about koji. We’ll be premiering sections from our book on koji we’ve been working on for the last two years and asking for responses.

Plus, this section will also provide a recipe or two for those that don’t want to make the koji but just use it or something made with koji like miso, shoyu, hishio, fish sauce, and tamari.

And some other things that will surprise and delight that we can’t talk about right now.

CookingwithKoji.wordpress.com

But this is CookingwithKoji.wordpress.com‘s best post to date. Visiting a Soy sauce brewer in Shodoshima  She pretty much stepped all over our salted caramel iced milk kefir recipe (we use a little of our shoyu moromi and another ingredient made with koji and it’s good). Making your own, probiotic rich, umami-laden soy sauce (shoyu) or even hishio we think everyone should try or at least know about.

So, what else should you have in your Japanese pantry? Or in your pantry in general – need tips on how to use or even make any of these things just ask at culturegroup@earthlink.net  – but this article about our friend and  先生 (Elizabeth Andoh’s website)

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betterazuke of dried daikon radish and burdock root from 2015.

So while we’re with お父さん in New Jersey, reading and writing, and now keeping many family and friends from Florida safe for now, check out the many links provided and get to this presentation by Rich from ourcookquest.com in Cambridge, MA or get to Great Barrington Fairgrounds in MA for BerkshireFerments. We are one of the sponsors of this event. The weather will be beautiful.

土用の丑の日 – Day of the Ox

Unagi Day – or Day of the Ox – is a Japanese tradition concocted by the eel fishing industry way back in the day. There is now an eel shortage in the world – especially in Japan – where at least 75% of the eel from Asian countries in the area is eaten.
China and other countries might have more than enough to satisfy the Japanese habit, but to protect their markets the price of eel in Japan is ten times what it was a decade ago. Then again, eels are on the IUCN’s red list of endangered species. 
Eel (Anguilla japonica) has also been added to the government of Japan’s red list of endangered species. Besides the “whole net” policy that some chefs and restaurants are adopting – an agreement where buyers will take anything caught in a net by the fishermen – catfish are a great, sustainable substitute for unagi.
 
NHK World has bee running a sustainable fish story for almost a week now – and it’s great. Here is a link to their Eel symposium
At one point there were an estimated 3,000 eel restaurants just in Tokyo, Japan. Eels are really a traditional Japanese dish and they are indeed quite tasty. But catfish are also a sustainable and tasty fish  Not many restaurants can afford at this point to even buy the eels.
 

There are lots of recipes for alternative fish to use all over the internet. Pretty certain you should probably stay away from farm raised freshwater eel that is not the same thing as an eel raised in captivity. From the wikipedia entry on unagi:

Instead, young eels are collected from the wild and then raised in various enclosures. In addition to wild eel populations being reduced by this process, eels are often farmed in open net pens which allow parasites, waste products, and diseases to flow directly back into wild eel habitat, further threatening wild populations. Freshwater eels are carnivores and as such are fed other wild-caught fish, adding another element of unsustainability to current eel farming practices.
Happy Day of the Ox! Maybe you should try some うなぎパイ – Unagi Pie or biscuits.  If you really want an authentic touch get some real sansho from The Japanese Pantry  And, let’s make sure something like Hiroshima never happens again, which is also recognized on August 6, 2017. 
 

Japanese Food Experts Converge

こんにちはみなさん

Nancy Singleton Hachisu returns to the The Brooklyn Kitchen for a Demonstration and dinner in conjunction with some amazing producers of fine Japanese products. Nancy is author of the acclaimed books Japanese Farm Food, and Preserving the Japanese Way and is currently working on Japan: The Cookbook. (Phaidon)

Nancy will be joined by Takehiro Wada of Wadaman Sesame and Jun’ichi Doi of Konbu Doi. Both companies are based in Osaka and are carrying incredible traditions in quality Japanese food into the 21st century.

Wadaman produces some of the best sesame seeds and sesame products available anywhere through a rigorous process that starts in the fields where they source the seeds and continues to their modern factory where they sort, roast and process.

Konbu Doi is a renowned specialty shop focused on seaweed. From the oceans off Hokkaido they bring the best Konbu to market and now these products are available in the USA through our friends at The Japanese Pantry (@japanesepantry.com)

Yamaki Jozo makes some of the most amazing Soy sauce you will ever taste, yuba, tofu and more. It’s organic and truly an artisanal product. Mami Kitani will join Nancy to showcase her family’s line of products produced in Saitama, north of Tokyo.

This is a unique chance to not only learn from one of the premier authorities on Japanese food (who happens to be American) but also a chance to taste, eat and work with the products from two of the top producers in modern Japan.

Menu:
* Goma Dofu (sesame tofu)
* Konbu Dashi
* Yosedofu (soft tofu)
* Katsuobushi/Konbu Dashi,
* Seasonal Miso Soup with Yamaki Miso
* Ginger and Soy Sauce Marinated Pork Belly Sandwich

FantasyMemoirFoodSexLeft

Donna Minkowitz is a friend, colleague, activist and food critic. She is giving a class in New York City.  The five words that are the title of this post are the words under her blog. Yes. We’ll take that dish. You should take this class. Along with some other notables she will be reading tonight June 11, 2017 at KGB Bar and Lit Mag at 85 East 4th St. New York, NY 10003 (see below about this Zhencool production)

http://donnaminkowitz.com/food-writing-class/

http://donnaminkowitz.com/caviar-for-the-ninety-nine/

The real down low on the food scene in NYC. Well, maybe our national obsession with how we intimately relate to food and specific foods and other people’s food. These words from the above piece:

“It’s an odd time for eating out in New York. The places most likely to be reviewed by critics are restaurants where entrées cost $30 and tasting menus cost $100 and more. They are tiny food-temples and shiny mega-boîtes where most of us can’t go even if, by normal US standards, we are “upper income” — little palaces where, we, reader, certainly can’t eat if we are what the government calls either low income or middle-class. (Note that $55,575 is the median household income in the United States; median household income in the city is $67,201.) Reading the reviews has become an exercise in tantalized frustration: breathing in paragon writer Pete Wells’ description, in the New York Times, of the grated frozen foie gras appetizer at Momofuko Ko, you could be forgiven for feeling like the orphan cousin not invited to the party. “A cook behind the counter would rub a frozen cured brick of it across a Microplane held above a bowl with pine nut brittle, riesling jelly and lobes of lychee, showering them with falling pink flakes of airborne pleasure.” (The liver is part of the $195 tasting menu for lunch or dinner, the only way that you can eat at Ko.) The other spots in critics’ reviews – restaurants like Cosme and Blue Hill and even Contra and The Spotted Pig — are not for us, either, unless we’re in the top 5%, or interested in acquiring a load of debt that will cripple us.”

And it’s a restaurant review! For an eating establishment in New York City that recognizes that people with mobility and swallowing and metabolic issues need to eat as well : “Mekelburg’s, 293 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-399-2337, mekelburgs.com. Monday through Thursday, 8 AM-2 AM, Friday 8 AM-4 AM, Saturday 10 AM-4 AM, Sunday 10 AM-2 AM. Most fruits and vegetables served are pesticide-free; all house meats are hormone and antibiotic-free and pasture-raised. The extraordinary cheeses and creams served come from Lioni Latticini. Wheelchair access: the grocery and restaurant are down one flight of stairs, and an automated wheelchair lift is available, though it must be operated by a Mekelburg’s staff member. The scrupulously clean bathroom is accessible and has a lovely chalkboard covering the walls, multicolored chalk provided. On recent visits, there was lesbian love graffiti, anti-rape chants, and Black Lives Matter annotations on the walls. This was originally published in Gay City News, New York’s LGBT paper, on September 29, 2016.” 

According to Donna :

I work with writers on their books of memoir and literary nonfiction and, on occasion, on their book proposals. In addition to my experience writing and teaching memoir, I have a deep background in English literature, including a BA in Literature from Yale University and an Andrew D. White Fellowship in Comparative Literature from Cornell University. For many years, I have also been a book critic for venues ranging from the New York Times Book Review to The Nation, Salon, Kirkus, and the Village Voice

 

Foraging for mushrooms in the wilds of Cleveland..
Jeremy and daughter foraging find a mushroom (photo from kickstarter link)

And if you happen to live in Cleveland or want to help a really smart and lovely family open a very cool Eastern European Deli and Bakery send them some bucks here Larder  that’s https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/844968869/larder-a-curated-delicatessen-and-bakery-in-clevel just in case. We’ve done a lot of consulting for hoped to be food services like restaurants, caterers, pop-up restaurants as well as done a lot of training and remedial work with chefs and staff when their business was just not working. The reason why this one will be successful is because three smart, talented and energetic people with a vision are involved. It’s based on a familiar precedent of a Deli and Bakery. This should allow them to introduce ideas and dishes that people will connect with and come back for frequently. 

And after taking Donna’s class – read this Growing up Golem excerpt and you will not only have to read the entire book but see why you should get into her class – you’ll be able to write about Larder with clarity and passion. Or if you live too far away you could just watch an internet presentation by Jeremy when you donate about our favorite addiction which as you can see in our description below is our logo.


Celebrate pride month at the gay table with “Queering Food: Taste the Rainbow” readings at KGB Bar and Lit Magazine.

Featured writers: Anna Dunn, editor-in-chief of Diner Journal, Daniel Isengart from The Joy of Gay Cooking, and Donna Minkowitz, restaurant critic for Gay City News.

Anna Dunn has been the Editor-In-Chief of Diner Journal for over a decade, and a bartender at Diner, Achilles Heel, and Roman’s for almost as long. She is co-author of Saltie: A Cookbook and Dinner at the Long Table. Glowinglikeagaslamp.com


Daniel Isengart is a German-born cabaret entertainer, writer and self-employed private chef. His controversial essays on The Joy of Gay Cooking were published on Slate.com in 2015. Isengart is a contributing writer to Jarry, the first explicitly gay food magazine. Isengart.com

 

culturesgroup offers food preparation, preservation and fermentation education and information. We share and collaborate with individuals, other educators, and businesses through e-books and internet meetings, printed materials, videos, photos, and presentations on:

• the preservation and demonstration of food cultures and techniques

• wild yeasts, koji, grains and SCOBYs to create sake, beer and beverages

• fermentation and food history, culture and semiotics

• the use of aspergillum and lactobacillus throughout the world to create:

Miso • Sake • Mirin • Tseukemono • Koji • Tamari • Shoyu • Legumes • Cheese • Cultures • Fish Sauce • Amazake • Milk Kefir • Wild Yeasts • Food History • Kimchee •  Whole Grains • Sourdough

http://www.culturesgroup.net

E-mail: culturesgroup@earthlink.net

Twitter: @culturesgroup

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/#culturesgroup   https://culturesgroup.tumblr.com/post/132198811435/wwwculturesgroupnet

Instagram: @culturesgroup

https://www.facebook.com/groups/aspergillus/

https://www.facebook.com/culturesgroup

HRN Radio: http://heritageradionetwork.org/podcast/ken-fornataro/

Here is a recent interview with Chef Ken with brief bio:

https://www.mixcloud.com/fuhment…/episode-204-ken-fornataro/

For the last 40 years Ken Fornataro has been fermenting and preserving grains, legumes and other proteins with A. oryzae.  Ken was appointed Executive Director of The Hermitage in Boston at 19 years old, and left both Brown University and Northeastern University. He found himself ducking out the back door to Erewhon, where he befriended Aveline and Michio Kushi, Bill Shurtleff and other macrobiotic practitioners and Japanese chefs, who taught him traditional Japanese fermentation — including koji, amasake, miso, shio-koji, shoyu, sake, shoyu-koji and many kinds of tseukemono.

Since then, Ken has continued his study of microbiology, food, 五大明王,  and transformative processes including fermentation. He has served as Executive Chef, Sous-Chef and Garde Manger of numerous restaurants, and has engaged in other business development — including founding and directing a non-profit organization, which made a significant contribution to developing a cure for HCV and treatment advances for HIV/AIDS.  Ken is the author of 32 publications on science and research primarily through the New York State Department of Health and The Kaiser Family Foundation. He is working on a book series related to food, fermentation, and aspergillus in conjunction with his role as founder, Executive Chef and CEO of culturesgroup.net, an educational venture dedicated to traditions in food preparation, preservation and fermentation.

#ChefKenFornataro, #miso, #microbiology , #学生, #漬物, #麹 #dysphagia, #魚, #酵母, #酒

Making koji-kin and tane koji – Part 1

We’ve gotten so many requests form videos and pictorials on how to make koji-kin (こうじ) and tane-koji that we are trying out this format. Unless people either follow us here or like the first post we’ll stop. Let us know what you think, okay? So check this out: