Koji Essentials for Busy People

You’ll see demonstrations of

  • how to make miso (味噌)
  • how to make shio-koji (塩糀)
  • how to make takikomi gohan
  • how to make misodama (味噌玉)
  • how to make a refrigerated kimchi base
Millet koji

You’ll learn how to prepare things to use with these things – like a hundred zucchini you can’t deal with.

The point of all these items is to show you what to have on hand, and what to do with it.

KojiFest2019 presented by people that have mastered the art of living and eating tasty food with too little time in the day. Got kids? Work, like even two jobs ?

Need to spend less time and money cooking and more time enjoying food?

Presenters

Makiko Ishida (Maki) is a koji enthusiast, and a busy parent that knows how to budget time without sacrificing nutrition or taste for her family. A native Tokyoite who was born into a katsuobushi (fermented bonito) trading family. Maki-san has a unique sense of how to blend traditional Japanese food with everyday American fare.

Maki especially loves to share easy and fast Japanese home-cooking ideas using koji-fermented staples such as miso, soy sauce, mirin, shio-koji, and sake that anyone can apply into his or her own kitchen.

Professional Chefs often approach cooking with a stone soup approach. Sometimes they have access to fresh ingredients that a forager, farmer or artisan just harvested or made, other times they have to deal with what they ordered or shopped for versus what is in the house.

It’s really a bigger version of what we all go through at home when tired or busy or exhausted. That doesn’t mean you can’t use something in your pantry, refrigerator or from your local store and make something filling and very tasty like already when you get home or realy quick to prepare kasha. The stone in this case is koji,or shio-koji, or miso,or sake lees or a fermented or pickled condiment you already bought or made.

Garlic Misozuke

Chef Ken Fornataro will show you how to make food with a stone. No rabbit or fox will get this meal though! It’s all really about mise-en-place, a fancy way to say if you have miso, koji, shio-koji, soy sauce, mirin and other ingredients ready to go (or even just the miso) a quick trip to the farmers market, your local salad bar, the super market or a dig into your CSA box or your pantry or refrigerator and you can easily do it. Even for picky kids – we know all about the young stubborn ones – and people that are eating a vegan diet.

We’ll also show you how to get ready for the arrival of fresh foods from your local farmer or garden or grocer’s shelves. A #vegan focused event that could be translated into any type of food you chose to eat, but everything we prepare and sample will be plant based.

Koji is the most commonly used word to describe Aspergillus oryzae, a malted mushroom type of microbe that is an enzymatic powerhouse. You might not know how to cook, or even want to, but you still want to eat well without spending an enormous amount of time in the kitchen. Koji can be used with almost any food or even drink you currently eat, from whatever type of cuisine you choose. You can make koji out of just about anything that has carbohydrates in it that will get broken down into different types of enzymes to transform or season your food for you. Quickly.

Fresh Rice Koji

You’ll see demonstrations of how to make miso (味噌), shio-koji (塩糀), gohan takikomi (rice cooked with miso and whatever you fancy), misodama (味噌玉) and a long lasting, refrigerated kimchi base and how to prepare things to use with it – like a hundred zucchini you can’t deal with. All so when we offer the following tastings you’ll say that’s easy and fast! Especially since you can substitute ingredients that you have using the mise-en-place items. 

Based on these items we’ll have – if accessing the ingredients makes sense and preferably uses ugly vegetables, the following, all vegan, mostly gluten free items:

Menu (based on availability):

Menu:
• Fried Jalapeño and Garlic Salsa
• Szechuan Sauerkraut with pastrami flavored smoked hamma natto
• Shiitake Kombu Dashi Dama
• Edamame Crispy Beans (glazed with an amasake shio-koji plum mirin)
• Jasmine Amasake (sweet, thick, koji based rice)
• Miso Mayo (mayo with special seasonings and miso)
• Cucumber Misozuke (Cukes aged in a black pepper miso)
• Spicy carrot, garlic ginger, tomatillo, onion Kimchi
• Coriander Seed, Fennel and Lime Rind pickles
• Toasted Almond KIsses (savory, nutty and sweet)
• Garlic Misozuke (Fresh garlic fermented in miso)
• Baker’s Dozen – Freshly baked breads and Genmai Cha Tea (roasted rice, chilled tea, spices) if 40 people register by May 15.

Fee/Payment: Suggested Fee is $35 for the 3 hour demo and tasting. Bring cash and pay there if you like. Bring whatever you can, but please join the group and register for the event! Hope to see you there! koji@earthlink.net with questions! https://www.meetup.com/culturesgroup/

Lemon Rind pickle

culturesgroup is about food and drink making, preservation, fermentation, science, and cultural history. We focus on traditional and novel techniques in cooking, fermenting, brewing and preserving techniques using koji, yeasts, and the tasty bacteria that make pickles. We stress sustainably resourced foods, food safety, digestibility, and maximizing the nutritional profiles of foods. https://www.meetup.com/culturesgroup/events/261196806/

Making Miso. Or Not.

Miso is why you should always have at least one type of koji on hand unless you are buying pre-made miso. You can make or buy a lot of really useful and tasty things made with koji besides miso, but miso is definitely the most sophisticated member of the koji family.

Black Gram Miso

Making miso is like creating the dance steps (choreography) for a performance. The steps don’t have to be elaborate. You just have to make sure that all the participants are ready and capable of doing their part – and that some show hog like the ever present bacteria Bacillus subtilis doesn’t take over the proceedings.

Salt usually keeps things under control and moving along, but just to be sure you have to carefully control the amount of humidity and water that is involved in the microbial rave, and just how tightly you pack everything in. Tight enough so interactions can’t be avoided, but loose enough so that they can actually take place. Nobody pins baby in a corner.

If miso is a long production (like two or three years) you need a lot of salt. If you’re making an all bean like Hatcho miso that will eventually taste like a cross between chocolate, a well aged red wine, and nirvana if it were a dense pst then salt it up and wait. But you can make other misos in days, months, or under a year.

In order to keep everything under control you need to plan all this out when you decide what type of miso you are making, how it’s going to be weighted down and how much weight is needed, and how the air flow is going to be controlled inside and outside the miso.

No insects, pets, other critters nor just any microbe hanging out should be allowed to sneak into the show. Make a plan. Stick to it.

Mellow Miso ( Shinshu or Yellow Miso)

The Miso Dance

Train your koji, rice, salt, beans or grains or whatever – seriously, you can make miso out of just about anything but you might not actually like the way it tastes – to act out the steps before the production is presented. Because unless you know exactly what steps to take, and there is a written plan to follow (including labels written out beforehand), count on something getting messed up. Miso can be very forgiving, but don’t test it’s willingness to adjust to new and uncomfortable situations.

That said, making miso is easy. You can even start a batch and finish it up over a few days. In fact, some miso makers make a big batch of starter miso they then mix with new ingredients several weeks after they start.

Wait, Plan.

We’re going to play the hold on listen to the voice of experience card on you. No? Okay we’ll play the Chef card on you. Oh, the days and nights and next days we’ve spent not sleeping, sweating, stinking and trying to throw together on overambitious projects.

They can be a great learning experience – especially if you’re getting paid overtime for it – but getting paid for the hours you actually work in a kitchen are as rare and as ridiculous a concept as someone won’t have pay for poor planning. And you can’t make up the sleep. And you’ll probably lose your job. Or your shirt. As in money.

But even a busy parent or two job worker can do it if you plan small, ahead, and factor in exhaustion, malaise or distraction. Especially if you take our moromi miso approach.

Think of it as a chef’s mise-en-place (things you should always have ready on hand regardless of what you can resource on a specific day) approach to making miso and other things. You just had the experience card played on you.

Moromi Miso: Miso Smart

Why do we love the moromi miso approach? If you don’t get around to making four different types of miso with your one gallon of moromi miso you still have your really easily assembled moromi miso. Eat it. Cook wit t. Make pickles wit it. Marinate with it.

It’s also why we like shio-koji so much. Actually, it’s why we love koji so much, but let’s stick to miso now.

Imagine what you can make with a fermented garlic miso moromi. Like this ketchup.

Moromi miso (sometimes referred to as okazu miso) is traditionally a somewhat softer and almost loose miso with chunks of koji or beans suspended in it. It’s made from the same ingredients that are used to make sake or doboroku or shoyu (soy sauce).

We make a lot of those things anyway, or at least versions with more or less salt and varying ingredients, so why not plan ahead and make a gallon of moromi miso. By adding different grains or legumes or tubers turn one gallon into four different gallons of miso that are ready all at the same time. Or at different times throughout the year.

We’ll show you how to do that step by step, but not all at once. And in the next post. We’ve been making miso for decades, some of us our entire lives since we were kids as part of family gatherings.

But things have kind of changed. What we now know about the science of miso making is amazing. We also know that someone who is really gung ho today is very likely to tire or get bored and suffer from miso making burnout.

Do you have an unopened or half eaten container in your fridge? Do you know or associate with people that do? See. Obviously not making miso together is the root cause of the weakening of the family unit throughout the world. Not the internet, nor the inability to communicate without a electric device.

Miso Master Organic Red Miso comes in sizes from 1 pound to 40 pounds. Others may make miso as good as this, but no one makes it better.

You Don’t Have to make your own miso.

Just so you know you could buy the miso. Some of the recipes we provide on how to actually use the stuff will inspire you to overcome your illogical fear of miso. You can use miso to make a salad dressing or tacos or a stew that will completely change your outlook on life. We’re not kidding.

There are many ways to use miso you probably have never heard of, including preparations of miso that blend several types of miso, misos that get simmered with sweet or savory things that make an entire meal with a bowl of grains, misos that make incredible pickles, and even baking misos. Got your miso? Or do you want to know how to make koji first? Or make your own?

Recipes

Come learn in New York City! www.meetup.com/culturesgroup/

Mushrooms and Koji

#KojiFest2019 is an ongoing series of events hosted by culturesgroup (https://www.instagram.com/culturesgroup/). Expect to learn, ask questions, and taste and enjoy. April 13th at RESOBOX on East 3rd Street in New York City. A multi course tasting event with three wild sages and experienced microbe wranglers. #kojifest2019 #veganevent 

Porcini Black Trumpet and Leek Nuta with Homemade Miso, Vinegar & Wild Seed Mustard @malloryodonell

Kumquat, Carrot and Red Pepper Pickles

Wild Greens Pkhali

Pkhali is the traditional Georgian paté of vegetables such as spinach or leeks, in this case its going to be a mix of wild greens probably nettles, mustard and herbs like pushki and wild chervil.  Depending on what Mallory has on hand and what he can gather it will probaly include these ingredients: Wild mustards (garlic mustard, wild cabbage and dames rocket), nettles, wild chervil, field garlic, ground elder / walnuts, garlic, Georgian spices (blue fenugreek, coriander, chiles) a splash of homemade vinegar and a dash of black walnut oil. 

Wild Greens Pkhali @malloryodonnell

Aline Bessa,

Aline Bessa is a baker, cook and food waste sage. She constan tly thrills people @bichobk with her breads, ferments and other tings that include yuca. Yuca is the energy source for at least 400 million people around the world. Aline will discuss – and sample – some of the tastiest ways the plant is used.

Yuca @culturesgroup

Aline will discuss how to ferment this root with various ingredients in multiple ways to create flavors ranging from cheeselike, to nutty or fruity. For every thing described, there will be an accompanying dish so that it will be easier to understand the process better.

Resobox Space at East 3rd Street in the East Village in New York City @resobox

Yuca Ferments

Miso soup with tucupi (a fermented yuca broth), szechuan buttons (jambu), culantro and goma

Yuca rolls (vegan pães de queijo) stuffed with nut cheese made with sour tapioca starch (polvilho azedo) miso

Puba (fermented yuca) pudding with miso caramel

There will be a yuca-based “cachaça” for the adults, too. Its name is tiquira.

Vegan Braised Beef Brisket made of mushrooms and yuca flour @culturesgroup

Yuca Flour (farinha)

@bichobk describes: “How many types of farinha (yuca flour) have you used? Farinha can be readily found here in the United States, either at Brazilian stores or online, but almost without exception these come loaded with artificial additives.

It is incredibly hard to find farinha from the North or Northeast of Brazil here, especially of any quality. In Bahia we use farinha de guerra. When we run out of it, we use cassava garri from the Nigerian store up the street.

We also have farinha d’agua from the North of Brazil, and farinha ovinha de Uarini, a gift from our friend @raonilourenco These are all artisanal products, and they all share the same ingredients: yuca. “

Rice Koji for making sake shio koji, shoyu koji, amasake, pickles and sake @culturesgroup We’ll have some freshly made at the event! Along with misos and sauces and pickles and surprises.

Kojifiles

Two types of home made mirin, both double fermented.

Today’s presentation and kick off of KojiFest 2019 was off the charts.  Yoshiko san’s 9 year old miso was deep. The hatcho miso tasted like chocolate and bourbon and dark maple syrup if it was made from soybean trees (no, soybeans don’t grow on trees). Stunning.

Maki san was evangelizing.

I didn’t get a tenth into my presentation but people seemed interested in hearing about which koji  enzymes created which organoleptic (smell, taste, color, etc.) properties in koji-centric ferments like miso, shoyu, mirin and sake so I let it rip.

Didn’t have time to present recipes or discuss entire topics. Last PhD thesis I write for an hour presentation.

The apexart space and the staff were exceptional. I’m moving in next week. I wish. I’m just moving.

The next four KojiFest 2019 events have been scheduled for April 13th ( about koji-centric ferments from places you’d like to be during Spring Break), May 4 (our KojiFest 2019 Del Mayo), and June 8 all Saturdays, all in New York City.

For those that were unable to attend today’s fest here’s a recipe for one of my all time favorite salads using mirin in the dressing. Everyone seemed to like the mirin I made – incredibly easy to do for those that are patient – but you could use Mitoku brand Organic Mikawa Mirin and add a touch of a small amount of brown rice vinegar and achieve the same result. 

Did I mention we still need volunteers? And people interested in presenting their koji-centric creations?

Apexart.org event with culturegroup.net

Check out this other apexart.org event on March 2, 1 to 3 PM on Bokashi Fermentation https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bokashi-fermentation-workshop-tickets-56137788637

“Managing organic waste is a major challenge for businesses and residents of NYC. As our city strives for zero waste by 2030, we need to consider innovative solutions for managing waste. Bokashi fermentation is an ancient, simple, fun and highly effective technique to manage organic waste. Using waste organic material like sawdust and dried coffee grounds, and a sealable 5 gallon bucket, any household can make an inoculant that will prevent food waste from rotting. The end product is a valuable soil amendment for garden soil, just by burying it in the ground.”

Koji cured Chicken salad with Sour Dill Pickles and lacto-fermented vegetables, mirin vinaigrette 

Separately ferment 1 jumbo peeled beet (save peelings to dry to color food) or 392 grams julienned beets in 3 tsp (12 grams) grams salt. Mix two cups of julienned carrots and onions (482 grams) with 18 grams or 4 TSP coarse salt. Let ferment for at least a week at room temp in tightly rolled air release bags, or under brine as you would with any vegetable. After fermenting you will have 308 grams beets, 374 grams onions and carrots, and ¼ cup juice from the latter set aside. Take 1200 grams of chicken cured in koji for 7 days in the refrigerator fridge and cook at low heat until just slightly browned. Save juices to mix with carrot/onion juice. After cooling, julienne chicken.  Mix ¼ cup mirin, 1 TSP celery seed and up to 1 TSP freshly ground toasted black pepper with the reserved juices. Add 3 TSP fresh tarragon or 2 TSP dried and mix well. Add a cup of crisp apple sticks if desired. Serve right after adding the beets at room temperature. 

Koji cured chicken with lactofermented beets, carrots,
onions and cucumbers, mirin vinaigrette.

Ken Fornataro

麹 culturesgroup

koji@earthlink.net

culturesgroup@earthlink.net

www.culturesgroup.net

facebook.com/groups/pickles/

https://www.instagram.com/culturesgroup/

Reconceptualizing Miso

Part 1: Release of our two year old sofrito miso (A.sojae) made with chorizo and jamón butts, accidentally sun dried tomatos, lactofermented culantro and cilantro, and caramelized seaweed and charred onions.


Accompanied by black garlic and mushrooms miso jerky – stretched while drying – for quick pickled peppers.

Forcing a Maillard reaction in a miso @culturesgroup

To be discussed at https://www.meetup.com/culturesgroup-Koji-Belters-and-LAB-wranglers/events/258311408/apexart and NYCFerments at Fifth Hammer Brewing in Long Island City

Angela, Zachary and Cheryl of @NYCFerments

Starting to add new koji spores, koji, and other koji-centric products as well.

Cape Town, SA http://richardbosman.co.za   Sold at the Oranjezicht Farm Market every Saturday and Sunday or you can order online at info@richardbosman.co.za

Kinetic Ferment Co.
www.kineticfermentco.com 
Instagram @kineticfermentco
Email info@kineticfermentco.com



 



Koji Spores

Using Aspergillus oryzae and other Aspergillus spores for sake, misos, shoyu, fish sauces, meat sauces, etc.

The next 12 posts will be about specific enzymes, making koji on different substrates such as rice, beans, and other grains like barlet or wheat, research into clinical uses for koji enzymes, the ongoing and widespread use of Aspergillus spp. enzymes (esp. kojic acid from Aspergillus oryzae) in food processing, etc. The amount of information available is voluminous (for those that still read books) and even online. 

Aspergillus sojae grown on black soybeans for douchi, miso and kecap manis

All posts will be in the context of side bars to recipes for tasty food, however.

Any site that sells spores will have descriptions in English, some so incredibly poorly translated you will easily lose patience. What spores yoiu need is really based on the very basic principle that when inoculated at the lower end of the temp range of 85F spores will pretty much produce more proteases and lipases. That a pretty good temperature to aim for if you are making koji on most substrates.

At the higher temperature range of around 104F you will generally produce more amylases. In low or non fat substances like rice for sweet or quick misos, sake, or amasake you want as much amylase as you can get. There are thousands of different spores however, although you’ll probably never be offered more than 50 from any one producer. Spores are designated by how quickly they create heat, or the length of the hyphae.

If you have a bean or a more fat and protein containing substance like barley or meat or fish you really want to be using Aspergillus sojae that is way more inclined to produce proteases, cellulases and pectinases. Most soybean miso or shoyu spores, although rarely labeled as such, are actually A.sojae.

Every spore distributor in the USA always says they only sell A. oryzae, although their spores are always made in Japan. You could create a decent koji from mild rice or barley miso specific spores sold by Gem spores that are A. oryzae to get the job done, but studies clearly show you are not going to get as much proteases etc. to create more amino acids and other things to increase both umami and maximum nutritional value, and break down proteins and fats.

Places like http://www.higuchi-m.co.jp/english/index.html and Akita Konno sell spores http://www.akita-konno.co.jp/en/seihin/index.html through different exporters (a customs certified agent is required). The former provides some really useful charts on what each spore type does, and are the only place we know of that sells the enzymes we use.

Although somewhat difficult to understand these two do the best job of explaining what they are selling. If you are willing to wait a little, and have somewhat that can translate their English translations into English there is always kawashima-ya (https://kawashima-ya.jp) and other sites.

Just remember there are miso spores, and sake spores, and shoyu spores and shochu spores. We have our own spore guy that gets us what we want, but most people will never need what is not offered through the internet.
You can also easily get koji spores almost overnight in the US through the Modernist Pantry (https://www.modernistpantry.com/shiragiku-koji.html -shirayuri is for white things that are sweet, shiragiku for brown things like browner misos and shoyu) 

Most spore providers will provide an English language label, like these spores from Gem Cultures packages available to professionals. They also sell much smaller sizes. These are good spores, but you won’t get the best effect if you use them for beans or high protein sauces or misos.