Asian Ferments Reboot

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One of the most amazing Asian ferments is what most Americans know as sake. Depending of the yeast it is made with, the type and polishing of the rice, the water used and of course the Aspergillus oryzae (koji) used to make it sake varies greatly in taste and style. This Sunday June 10, 2018 in Brooklyn at Brooklyn Kura in Industry City come try some amazing sakes made by the guys at Brooklyn Kura, and representatives from twelve breweries. Twelve, yes. And they will answer all your questions about sake making and enjoyment!  Buy your ticket now.
Mustard Seed, millet, bean tempeh
Tempeh is amazing stuff. If you grind it up well and add it – gently like you’re making fluffy meatballs already – to ground meat or vegan burgers it will reduce the amount of tasty juices from your burgers that drip out especially during grilling. Add nutritional yeast to your vegan burgers and you’ll think you’re eating a cheeseburger. Or use a slice of cheese. Nut cheese even works. You can do the same to your meat burgers as well. Succulence and taste matters.
When I can’t get to my local grocery store and buy some of Barry’s tempeh or another local maker of fantastic tasting tempeh – hey it’s New York City and we speak like a thousand languages or something and have access to these things –  I’ll check out the site below for recipes I forgot I liked when I first tried them, then make my own version. Or one of many recipes I’ve developed over the past few decades for tempeh, typically using something made with koji.
http://www.makethebesttempeh.org/how-to-make-betsys-tempeh.html is my favorite tempeh making site to refer people wanting to start making their own tempeh, or up their game. Betsy’s oat tempeh sausages, although modified with my own touches, are really good. And fast.
Add some miso and ground nuts or lardo to the mix after making the tempeh, and before cooking and you’re set.
Their technique that was invented decades ago is flawless and super easy. I have a few recipes in my upcoming summer release book that I hope any kid or grandparent or busy city dweller anywhere in the USA can throw together in less than 15 minutes using local ingredients.
 Spores kept in fridge are required.
I’ve made up to twenty pounds of koji using their incubator set up, obviously longer than the 22 hours required for their tempeh, but now use an even simpler technique to make koji (Aspergillus oryzae or (こうじ) 麹. No reason why you couldn’t make your own koji though. You could, however, also buy that pre-made. More than a few super easy and fast recipes using already made koji in the book as well.
You don’t have to pasteurize your tempeh, but why not unless you are propagating your own spores. It will last longer and maintain it’s taste. You could freeze it as well. Portion it out before freezing if you find that convenient. Defrost in fridge.
Be careful if making spores is your goal. Aflatoxins are no joke. I don’t recommend doing that when pure spores of R.oligosporus and mixes with R.oryzae are so easy to find. I find R.oryzae better suited for other purposes than tempeh, especially if this is your first time around the block. But in the hands of our friend Jeremy Umansky and amazing team in Cleveland he’s probably working the capabilities of that subspecies quite well.
If you are looking for the Neurospora intermedia var. oncomensis spores that produce brilliant red looking products like the bacon and meat looking tempeh types, why not just buy or make some great tempeh and season it? If you’ve never tasted oncomm, made with these spores, you won’t miss the taste. I used to be able to buy it up the street near the UN where a vendor sold it and other unbelievable things sometimes no longer available in their country of origin.
Tempeh spores from here are good and cheap: https://www.tempehstartershop.com These are the ones typically sold on other sites at a higher price.
I really like these spores a lot, however, because they do the high science, organic stuff . https://tempehsure.com/product/tempehsure-organic-tempeh-starter-culture/
Not that the other ones will either, depending on what you are making your tempeh out of and if your follow good rules of safety. But if there isn’t R.oligosporus in it, I won’t touch it unless I know the chef. And she or he really knows their science and cooking.
My very dear old friend Sandor Katz whose book The Art of Fermentation is now routinely cited by scientific researchers throughout the world and Mara Jane King and their truly inspiring series that my Dad and I have watched every episode of five times now because it’s really that good – and free to watch – and why shouldn’t caregiving be fun and instructive for everyone involved fit that category.
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Our spicy fermented lime sauce goes very well with pan fried tempeh with shallots.
This article in The Cleaver Quarterly really nails it. Beautiful, stunning work!
Like the people that will be at this incredible event on July 14th, 2018. that’s July 14th friends!
Come see me and Mara Jane King of Ozuke where she also sells their tasty goods throughout the country, Rich Shih of Our Cook Quest , Ann Yonetani of nyrture.com  and Harry Rosenbloom of the radical cooking school amongst other things at The Brooklyn Kitchen, . There are also several other panels and hours of movies and food and an incredible after party all for $15.
We’ll have quite a few samples comfort foods you’ll swear you’ve had before and love. But you really haven’t. July 14th, 2018 – movies, food, art, discussion, and party!

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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?

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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.