Ginger kojizuke

We decided to take all our organic ginger and do a classic fermentation japanese style with salt, a special sugar and sake lees. We still haven’t gotten the vegetables we’re going to layer between all this yet, but maybe we will just make some pickled gari or sushi style ginger for fattier fish.

The recipe and description of fermenting and pickling with koji will be in our upcoming book series, The Book of 麹 – こうじ or Koji. It’s not an all Japanese oriented book series although we honor the incredible contributions to the field of over a thousand years of Japanese innovation and research while providing relevant and useful recipes.

We are still very much in need of people that can translate kanji into English (from Japanese, Chinese, etc.) and English into Japanese or Chinese. We are a not-for-profit organization so there is no money in it yet but we can most definitely make it worth your while if the honor and prestige of sharing thousands of years of brilliant Asian culture does not meet your needs.

If you are interested please e-mail koji@earthlink.net ありがとうございます!

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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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Miso Making with 麹

So we finally got some assistance on our three most important projects! The researching, writing and publishing of our first three books: Sour Russian, Swallow and Fish 麹 . Yes, of course we would still welcome dedicated volunteers to assist us! We need lawyers and fundraisers and social media assistance and research and writing help!

There are also quite a few people we would like to interview for all three of our publications. But there is now a co-author with Chef Ken Fornataro for Sour Russian, and several new dedicated volunteers to the team. That’s a big deal.

Our second book that we hope to introduce at the Berkshire Fermentation Festival, Fish 麹, is perhaps the most research and microbiology oriented. But the objective of this book is to not only make chefs and cooks and others comfortable with making and using koji for various purposes but also to feel well equipped with an accurate microbiological background for what they are doing.

There are quite a few new Aspergillum oryzae A.orzae experts expounding on the internet that have very little scientific knowledge. We are working to provide the definitive guide to koji (麹) and fish but always welcome trained scientists or interested students!

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So follow us here or anywhere @culturesgroup and volunteer if you like.

どうぞありがとございます!And help us learn Japanese (nihongo)!

IMG_8878 Two year old miso opened for the first time in a year. Fish 麹 Looking good! Ready at the end of summer!

Sake Week in New York City

A Week of NYC sake spectaculars!

Monday June 11 at The Japan Society http://www.japansociety.org/…/annual-sake-lecture-tasting-u… with John Gauntner (SOLD OUT)

But the day before on Sunday June 10 with our fave guys at Brooklyn Kura at one of the city’s coolest places is NOT SOLD OUT yet and priced as the opportunity of a lifetime. Even if you don’t drink this will be a happening event where you could meet some really cool people.  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/passport-to-japan-12-breweries…

On Friday June 15th Joy of Sake http://joyofsake.com/new-york.html where Todd Bellomy of Dovetail Sake and our guys Brooklyn Kura will be pouring their local made in the USA brews!

You could do the Manhattan Sakagura brewery hop on Tuesday June 12 at a higher price than the event at Brooklyn Kura but still an event not to miss http://sakagura.fbmta.com/members/ViewMailing.aspx…

There are actually a few others because it appears that this is Sake Week or something in New York. Exciting! Anyone that speaks and writes Japanese and English well that needs to be sponsored to attend ANY of these events in exchange for a translation/report let me know ASAP! You obviously need to be of legal drinking age Contact koji@earthlink.net

 

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Koji

img_6884Culturesgroup started out Aspergillum (notably A.oryzae) experiments last November 2016 and it seems we haven’t stopped yet. Nor do we plan to. We’re looking at different rice strains, different semibuai rates (polishing) different inoculation temperatures and preparation techniques. img_6885img_6888

One of our recently finalized dried koji based powders. This one lasts for at least 9 months on the shelf, a typical test for the stability of drug candidates as reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What can be done with this and other forms of koji is the topic of one of the books we are currently writing with the goal of distributing it for free or at cost.
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