The Name of the Rose

Today is my birthday and I have a few things to say. Mostly everything I want to convey on this year’s birthday – September 15th – has all been said before in Nina Simone’s song “Feelin Good” At least the attitude part.

The recipe for this is actually already posted at culturesgroup.net

The semiotics or foodways start of a new year follows. As will the recipes that depend on understanding a few basic concepts. Although we haven’t yet introduced all of the misos, sauces, amino pastes, pickles, sakes, amasakes, kefirs, brews, yeast and bacteria centric items and baked goods and sweets that we’ve been making over the years, our corn rose miso has been very popular.

We only call it miso because the predecessor of all things made with koji is a word that has never been widely accepted in the English speaking world. Even the word koji is an inadequate translation of the predecessor to the what the original word for koji actually meant.

When the Japanese were gifted the knowledge of how to make and use koji – along with their first system of language – it was done by Chinese buddhists. The reason why so many people have seriously inaccurate ideas of where some things originated, or even that they have existed for thousands of years, is that the Chinese had no need to claim invention of anything.

The Japanese, however, kept repackaging and inventing while creating a hagiography of these things that were really just different versions of Chinese jiang, the predecessor even to the little fermented soybeans named shih or docuhi that many people insist are the actual precursor. Before koji there was jiang. Adding koji to jiang made it even better.

Ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce were derived from jiang, as were dozens of ither things such as miso and soy sauce and fish sauces and even preserved meats and game.

Nope

Sometimes the romanticized version of the past has worked well for the Japanese, and other countries to be sure, but other times it has failed miserably. Whoever though of the idea that foreigners would understand thus buy more Japanese sake by calling it rice wine should have been corrected.

The claim that they discovered or invented koji, or that it is endemic to only their country, is just not accurate. Still, the entire world should be extremely grateful to the Japanese for their efforts and inventions, especially Americans, because Japanese scientists including Dr.Takamine’s contributions to several industries in this country have been very significant.

麹 or 米糀 – Aspergillus and friends or pet Aspergillus

Millet koji.

But let’s start with the koji, or 麹, since it is what set everything off. 麹 really has little to do with the purified spores (tane-koji) that the Japanese have so brilliantly domesticated. When the Japanese think koji they mean 米糀 (rice koji or come-kouji) or sometimes another subspecies of Aspergillus (mold) grown on barley, millet, sweet potatoes or soybeans.

We’ll get to the Zygomycetes (Rhizopus, Mucor, Rhizomucor), yeasts and bacteria later, but even then it’s really rare that at some point in miso making or shoyu making and ocassionally even sake making they aren’t part of the process. Even if that just means avoiding them at all costs.

You should at least know these things exist. But we’ll try not to get too microbiologist on you unless it really matters.

Corn: Vinegar, Koji and Hamma Natto
Three corn kojis, three tastes (vinegar, koji, shih)

Su Jiang Rou or Shoyu what?

Many research papers, patent applications, books, journals, PhD theses and extant scrolls – as well as some pretty old oral communications – accurately document the development of mochi koji 麹. The stuff that seems to have taken hold in the minds of Westerners, at least, is bara koji, not mochi koji though.

We are actually partial to the bara koji, because as with sake and a whole lot of other food stuffs and beverages, the original sake was awful. Bara koji helps us to avoid that type of sake entirely. That said, Shanghai yeast balls or Chinese yeasts balls – way closer to the original mochi koji – can make some pretty amazing things.

Furthermore, modern day additives to sake that come from Aspergillus such as A.luchuensis or A. oryzaes and sometimes yeasts, bacteria or microbial enzymes should be welcomed as great things, especially if they help to avoid the industrialized unpalatable swill (増醸酒 ぞうじょうしゅ or Zojoshu) that is produced and consumed in Japan on a widespread basis.

Nukazuke (corn pickles made with corn nuka or bran). Thank you, Lactobacillus plantarum and friendly halophiles, for everything you do

Unblinded by Science

As I recently discussed at a recent meeting of culturesgroup, the invention of s16 rRna technology along with rapid advancements in other ways to quantify very precisely what bacteria and other microbes (yeasts, fungi, etc.) that populate the microbiome of any product have exploded the research into what microbes are in what we eat.

This is not all that new a thing, though, as the romanticizers of traditional methods keep trying to sell their goods. But industry and artesans can now either industrialize or individualize or do some of both when making something like soy sauce or amino sauces or sake with widely accessible ingredients.

Look to the Yeast

When I say there is actually only one thing that is ever created through any type of transformative process like using something to make koji from or add koji to or inoculate with a specific mold or fungus what I mean is that everything is on a continuum, a horizontal progression from ingredient to outcome.

The sokujo style method of making sake – basically just adding lactic acid derived from bacteria to avoid having to create it in what is called a shubo or moto in a time consuming and more expensive way – is almost exactly the same thing as making shoyu and even miso.

If you want to direct tastes or mormi develop look to the yeast. Sometimes, the water minerals or the bacteria, often cadged from a previous batch, do the trick as well.

Shiitake mushroom shoyu or soy sauce.

With the help of amazing new equipment with which we can measure a microbiome (as in the mkicrobiome of a vat of soy sauce) and it’s inhabitants down to the genetic level it makes clear how much respect the artesans that have been making these things for thousands of years deserve.

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world – Nina Simone, Feeling Good

Knowledge begets new customs and traditions. Don’t repeat history and not learn from the past. Using new tools and techniques, it’s time for new generations to experiment and create new foodways.

Not that we know everything we want to know yet. Just that it should be a fusion of the traditional and the modern, a sustainable and enlightened way of creating new foods and tastes.

Microbes Eat Corn

Corn Tempeh made by Ferment.Works

Aspergillus oryzae (koji) chomping down on corn to make koji that will serve almost a hundred purposes, about as many as the types of corn (races) known to exist.

Corn Shoyu – Recipe

  • 10 cups/2200 grams steamed yellow grits corn koji (A. sojae)
  • 2 cups/300 grams kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups/425 grams ground corn masa koji
  • 2 cups /500 grams water
  • 3 cups/550 grams corn masa, toasted
  • 2 cups/275 grams dark brown roasted corn
  • 1 cup 120F water

    Keep at 92F to 100F for two weeks, stirring every day. Cover but not tightly. Then add:
  • 2 cups 120F water
  • 65 grams coarse sea salt
  • 3/4 cup 170 grams non-nixtamalized whole corn koji, ground

    After 6 weeks at 92F to 95F (3 to 6 months if at 72F) strain. Use the lees or dregs, if any, for a pickling bed, a moromi type miso, or the base of another shoyu or amino sauce or paste. This should yield a solid gallon.

You could replace all the corn koji with barley koji. or brown rice koji, but still keep the toasted masa and the browned corn.

Soy sauce, but really corn sauce because of microbial enzymes and corn without beans. Next post we’ll include another corn shoyu made with beans and another corn koji, while we slowly hit you with just a little science behind the bacteria, yeasts, fungus and koji types behind shoyu.
September 9th Events at Resobox
  • Monday, September 9 , 2019
  • 2:10 PM –  3:50 PM, $20 register here
  • Resobox, Long Island City, New York, New York (MAP)

Asian ferments like miso, tempeh, shoyu, pickles, amasake and shio koji, and even sake and vinegar, can be made with corn. Chef Ken Fornataro of culturesgroup and Kirsten Shockey of ferment.works will demonstrate how wild and cultured microbes like koji (miso, sake, shio koji), lactobacteria (pickles) and Rhizopus (tempeh, oncom) make tasty, unique and nutritious foods. Class participants will be learning about and tasting:

  • Caviar Lentil soup with Corn Tempeh croutons
  • Hokkaido Ramen corn chowder (in red curry broth)
  • Corn and radish and roasted shrimp kimchi
  • Hominy and onion salad and pepper salad, corn shoyu dressing
  • Sweet corn, lavender lemon cornbread
  • Tomato salad with parsley, corn vinegar, and extra virgin corn oil dressing
  • Corn shio-koji roasted glazed corn nuts
  • Corn Amasake Chai (Iced Tea) 
  • Doboroku (country style sake made with corn and rice)

Everyone will receive a bag of corn miso. Depending on seasonal availability we may have to have substitutions for the above dishes, and we may also have some things you can buy to take out:

  • Eggplant and ginger namemiso, spicy eggplant corn hagosuchizuke (corn koji)
  • Corn, Raisin, Cinnamon, Molasses and spice corn cookies
  • Assorted one, two and three year old misos will be for sale during the event, as will as take out bento boxes for those unable to attend class

If you would like to purchase one of the Shockey’s books at the event let us know at culturesgroup@earthlink.net or order online at https://ferment.works

Corn, Squash, Black Bean and Rice Tempeh

Fermentation Workshop

  • Monday, SEPTEMBER 9 , 2019
  • 4:00 PM –  6:00 PM
  • Resobox (Map)
  • $20 Event Fee

Presenters

Ken Fornataro

Ken has been cooking, fermenting and preserving vegetables, seeds, grains, fish and legumes with A. oryzae, yeasts and bacteria since childhood. He was taught traditional Japanese, Chinese and Russian foods, fermentation and preservation techniques to make koji, miso, shoyu, vinegar, sake, jiangs and pickles by Aveline and Michio Kushi, William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, and Jewish and Christian Eastern European immigrants. He is working on a book related to food, fermentation, microbiology and semiotics as Executive Chef for culturesgroup.net

Kirsten and Shockey

Kirsten and Christopher are the co-authors of bestselling Fermented VegetablesFiery Fermentsand the new Miso, Tempeh, Natto and other Tasty Ferments books that came from their desires to both help people eat in new ways, both for the health of themselves and the planet. They got their start in fermenting foods twenty years ago on a 40-acre hillside smallholding which grew into their local organic food company. They travel worldwide helping people to learn to make, enjoy and better connect with their food. Their current work is building their relationship with R. oligosporus and R. oryzae and how these fungal ferments interact with grains and legumes to transform our foods for both nourishment and flavor. You can find them at Ferment.Works

Contact culturesgroup:

Like the Aztecs considered ashes in their corn pots as a blessing, so did the Chinese recognize and make use of the microbial gifts that natured blessed them with. Microbial enzymes make corn’s nutrients available while disarming anti-nutritional factors.

All cultures depend on the ability to metabolize potential food sources. None of this would be possible without the enzymes created by the yeast, fungus and bacteria present in and on corn. 

Just as we have learned how to use Potassium or Calcium Hydroxide with corn, Chef Ken Fornataro will describe how corn treated with microbial enzymes from Aspergillus, Rhizopus, and Lactobacteria can make tasty pickles, vinegar, beer, miso, beans, sauces, meat and fish. September 8th at The New School.

  • Sunday, September 8, 2019
  • 9:00 AM to  3:00 PM
  • New School, Tishman Auditorium, New York City (Map)

Recent Posts

Upcoming Events

Ferment.Works
  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019– Release of Ferment.Works new book. culturesgroup’s Ken Fornataro discusses and gives recipes for a country style sake called doboroku, vinegar, and a quick amasake. He also discusses the sake industry in the US.

    Best-selling fermentation authors Kirsten and Christopher Shockey explore a whole new realm of probiotic superfoods with Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments.

    Besides William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi of SoyInfoCenter, Ken Fornataro of culturesgroup, Betsy Shipley of Make the Best Tempeh, Ann Yonetani from nyrture, Jeremy Umansky and Kenny Scott and Allie La Valle Umansky of Larder, Christian and Gaella Elwell of South River Miso Company, Head of Fermentation at Noma in Copenhagen, David Zilber, Tara Whitsett of Fermentation on Wheels, Sarah Conezio and Isaiah Billington of White Rose Miso – a part of Keepwell Vinegar – who make incredibly tasty and creative misos, vinegars, and koji based items, Cheryl Paswater of Contraband Ferments, Jon Westdahl and Julia Bisnett of Squirrel and Crow , Rich Shih of ourcookquest.com, and many, many others including vendors and artesans.

    “Their ferments feature creative combinations such as ancient grains tempeh, hazelnut “cocoa nib” tempeh, millet koji, sea island red pea miso, and heirloom cranberry bean miso. Once the ferments are mastered, there are more than 50 additional recipes for using them in condiments, dishes, and desserts – including natto polenta, Thai marinated tempeh, and chocolate miso babka. ”

Got any upcoming events, let us know!

Presentation at apexart.org. Check out Chef Ken Fornataro’s recent interview

Previous Events

  • Wednesday, June 19, 2019 6:00 to 9:30– Food Karma has hosted many featured events during New York Cider Week, and this year we’re back by popular demand to ring in the summer with hard cider! Start the season off right at CiderFeast NYC, a food and drink event with outdoor space, sunset views, live music, and of course plenty of cider! This all-inclusive event will feature cider tastings from 15 brands, food samples, and more!
  • It will also double as a book launch for Andy Brennan’s new book Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living. CiderFeast NYC

    Talking Shih, Recipe and Event Update

    Jasmine Amasake

    At the event at Resobox in the East Village you will experience:

    • how to make miso (味噌)
    • how to make shio-koji (塩糀)
    • how to make misodama (味噌玉)
    • how to make takikomi gohan (味噌炊き込みご飯)
    • how to make kimchi base for fast kimchi (because summer is coming!)

    The point of all these items is to show you what to do with what you have on hand, and what you can access. Got kids? Work, like even two jobs ? Need to spend less time and money cooking and more time enjoying food? We know what you need to know.

    Grilled Radicchio with KimChi Sauce

    Sometimes Chefs 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. 

    Chef Ken Fornataro will show you how to make food if you have miso, koji, shio-koji, soy sauce, mirin and other ingredients ready to go with  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. Even for picky kids – we know all about the young stubborn ones – and people that are eating a vegan diet. 

    Often you can prepare things that will last for days or weeks, requiring only what you want to eat fresh that day. 

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

    Miso dama made by simmering miso with mirin, sake, soy and other ingredients. Sometimes people add ground chicken, fish or vegetables to this type of namemiso after it is already fermented. It’s a type of name misosimilar to Kinzanji miso but not fermented from the start with the added ingredients like Kinzanji miso is. Okazu (おかず味噌) miso, the type of miso that both belong to, are meant to be eaten as condiments.

    Menu:

    Fresh Garlic getting packed into miso for a long fermentation voyage
    • Fried Garlic, Pickled Jalapeño, and Tomatillo Salsa
    • Szechuan Sauerkraut with spicy smoked hamma natto (koji based)
    • Shiitake Kombu Dashi Dama
    • Gohan Takikomi (recipe below)
    • Edamame Crispy Beans (glazed with a shio-koji plum mirin)
    • Jasmine Amasake (sweet, thick, koji based rice)
    • Miso Mayo Dip (miso, mayo with special seasonings, radishes)
    • Cucumber Misozuke (Cukes aged in a black pepper miso)
    • Spicy Ginger, Carrot, Garlic, and Onion Kimchi
    • Coriander Seed, Fennel and Lime Rind pickles
    • Toasted Almond Kisses (savory, nutty, sweet namemiso based)
    • Garlic Misozuke (Fresh garlic fermented in miso)

    If you are a member of culturesgroup MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/culturesgroup/events/261196806/, https://www.meetup.com/Evolving/ (Evolving lifestyles) or nycferments https://www.meetup.com/NYCFerments/ $20. Bring cash and pay there if you like. So please join the group and register for the event! Hope to see you there! koji@earthlink.net with questions!

    Contact Us

    Recipe

    Miso Takikomi Gohan (味噌炊き込みご飯) 

    • Rice 1 cup + 2⁄3 cup (about 300 grams)
    • Water 2 cup (400 ml)
    • Miso 2 TBSP
    • Soy Sauce 1 TBSP
    • Sake 1 TBSP
    • Mirin 1 TBSP
    • Sesame Oil 1 TSP

    (Suggested, Substitue with what you have)

    • Carrots 2 small roots, finely chopped
    • Konjac 1⁄2 of a 90 oz package, finely chopped
    • Deep Fried Tofu (Abura-agé) 1 sheet, cut in small strips
    • Fresh Ginger 3 TBSP, finely julienned (optional) 
    • Shichimi Pepper (optional) 

    Directions

    • Mix Miso, Soy Sauce, Sake, Mirin, and Sesame Seed Oil well and pour onto the dry rice in a rice cooker (or a pot with lid). 
    • Add water. 
    • Add vegetables and tofu and mix well. 
    • Soak the rice mixture for 20 minutes before starting the cooking.
    • When finished cooking, mix the rice well and sprinkle finely julienned fresh ginger and shichimi pepper if you like. 
    • Suggested Rice:Water Ratio for Dry White Rice : Water = 1 : 1.2 and for brown rice Rice : Water = 1 : 1.6~1.8

    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

    Contact Us

    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.

    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.

    KojiFest 2019 – Spring

    Sweet Corn Sourdough Bread

    Koji Fest 2019 is an ongoing series of events hosted by culturesgroup (https://www.instagram.com/culturesgroup/). Expect to learn, ask questions, and taste and enjoy.

    The events focus on methods and examples of how koji and other microbes are used throughout the world in many cuisines to elevate the taste and nutritional benefits of local and regional foods.

    Koji is the most commonly used word to describe Aspergillus oryzae, a malted mushroom type of microbe that is an enzymatic powerhouse. There are other types of koji that are members of the Aspergillus family that have their own unique characteristics.

    Enzymes and other byproducts produced by koji are creating solutions fordealing with environmental toxinsand even human disease. We focus on te amazing taste sensations and the layers of flavor that koji can create through rapid, or traditional methods.

    Presenters will provide tastings of foods that use koji or other fermentation techniques. These include misos, shoyu, shio-koji and how the enzymes created by koji can quickly or over time create incredible tastes and nutritional benefits.

    Some things will be lightly dressed with a probiotic rich sauce, others will be deeply flavored misos or sauces that highlight a fresh ingredient or can be eaten on top of or in cooked grains, beans, vegetable based proteins and even desserts.  

    Mushroom cured and fermented to taste like bacon

    Depending on what is available the day before the event we plan to have, perhaps with a few substitutions these things garnished with accompaniements.

    • Traditional three year old miso
    • Sweet simmered miso
    • Black beans with smoked mushroom bacon
    • Greens with cashew, garlic, herb pesto
    • Tucupi miso soup (a fermented yuca broth, szechuan buttons (jambu), cilantro and spring vegetable. 
    • Nut cheese using miso made with sour tapioca starch
    • Yucca rolls (vegan pães de queijo)
    • Puba (fermented yucca) pudim with miso caramel
    • Pickles (kumquat and carrot, shio-koji cucumbers, tempero baiano style mushrooms). 
    • Rice, garnished (spiced peanuts, date and ginger douchi, gomashio bahia). 
    • Corn chips, seasoned

    Joining Chef Ken Fornataro for this event.

    Mallory O’Donnell

    Mallory is a wild food writer and enthusiast, sometime cook and dabbler in creating food based on sustainable and local resources. Inspired by exposure to the worlds working-class cuisines, Mallory cooks globally-influenced cucina povera with an emphasis on homemade staple ingedients, fermentation and simple, traditional techniques.

    Emphasis is on the wild ingredients reflective of the terroir of the Northeast US, and on creative applications involving neglected or ignored wild ingredients such as bark, roots, wild seeds and spices, pollen, and tree leaves, branches and sap. Many of these open up exciting new avenues when combined with traditional preserving and fermentation techniques, an increasing role in which is being played by koji.

    Mallory documents food experiments as well as native and invasive wild foods at @mallorylodonnell on Instagram, and www.howtocookaweed.com

    Roast garlic, cashew and cilantro pesto

    Aline Bessa

    Aline Bessa is a fermentation enthusiast, exploring connections between the techniques she’s learned in her home country, Brazil, as well as here in New York, with local and sometimes foraged ingredients. In her cooking, fermentation is primarily used as a means to uncover the complex flavors of the ingredients, sometimes not accessible at first sight/smell/taste.

    In addition to that, preservation techniques help to keep her favorite tropical flavors available year-round, which is particularly important for riffs on Brazilian dishes and cocktails.

    Finally, fermentation is an important ally in her constant battle against food waste – food byproducts are usually turned into new products in her house. Aline is getting a PhD in Computer Science at NYU and she brings her scientific acumen to all her kitchen experiments.

    Recipe

    Worchestershire sauce

    Most things labeled as Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies, a type of fish that people trying to avoid animal products don’t want to consume.

    We created a vegan sauce – no animal products including honey and fish – that you can pretty quickly assemble yourself if you don’t want to buy any of the existing vegan or vegetarian sauces typically available at health food stores or online.

    This version is the faster version of one that uses koji and takes a few months to ferment. It’s just as good in things you are cooking, or in which it doesn’t really play a major role. It’s also great when using it with meat or any recipe that a vegan wouldn’t be interested in eating. So, try it. We use it in our vegan mushroom bacon.

    ½ cup raw apple cider vinegar

    1 cup brown rice vinegar

    ¼ cup organic tamari or soy sauce

    ¼ cup unsulphured dark molasses

    3 TB Umesu (umeboshi plum vinegar)

    1 TB tamarind paste or other sour fruit paste

    1 TB hot asian mustard powder

    1 TSP ginger powder

    3 TB very dark aged miso

    3 TB dried onion flakes

    1/3 TSP cinnamon

    ½ TSP garlic powder (or several fresh smashed)

    ¼ tsp cardamom

    ¼ TSP powdered cloves

    ½ TSP ground white pepper

    A few pieces dried citrus peel, preferably orange, toasted

    1/4 tsp dried seaweed powder (kombu, wakame, anything but Irish Moss or other gelling types )

    Simmer very slowly for 15 minutes, at which time it should be about to boil.  

    Let cool down below 140F, just not colder than tepid)

    Add ¼ cup rice wine vinegar (4 to 5 % acidity)

    1 TSP sweet smoked paprika

    ½ TSP alleppo pepper flakes or ground black pepper

    1 TB dark miso

    Stir well and let sit until room temperature. Strain, saving solids. Bottle and refrigerate sauce for up to 6 months. Or add a tablespoon of sea salt and it will last at 72F for at least three months unless you use it alot.

    We’ll provide recipes this is used in besides our mushroom bacon (recipe below) after this described event.

    April 13th Event in NYC

    April 13th at RESOBOX (resobox.com) you can experience a multi course tasting event. #kojifest2019 #veganevent

    Each #kojifest2019 event includes different guest presenters and participants sharing and sampling different handmade, regional fermented and traditional foods, most made with a koji-centric item such as miso, shio-koji, amasake or tamari.

    Enroll for information about all related events, or register for events at the culturesgroup MeetUp site.

    Recipe

    Mushroom Bacon (vegan)

    The cool thing about the marinade for this dressing is that it can be used with a few different types of mushrooms, or on a snack like roasted beans or even popcorn. Just don’t go overboard with the marinade if you don’t intend to use it for the amount specified in the recipe.

    The mushrooms don’t have to be pre-treated other than washed and de-stemmed if using shiitake, but if you marinate them for over 15 minutes they will start to really produce water that will dilute the intensity of the taste.

    If you don’t have maple syrup, coconut palm syrup or dark brown sugar work as well. Use the palm if you want it less sweet, though. We used the liquid smoke version here because most people don’t have smokers or want to do the stove top thing – easy in a wok or stove top steamer we smoke our nut cheeses in – and it works just as well.

    There are quite a few decent brands out there, make sure they don’t contain stuff you do not want to eat. You can also use unsalted smoke powder – sparingly – to create the liquid smoke, or just add it to the marinade.

    Use either portobello mushrooms or shitake mushrooms sliced like bacon, or even crimini or button mushrooms. Either way, this marinade is for 2 pounds after cleaning. Some mushrooms may need to be drained after the first trip to the frying pan. Then re-sauteed with something sweet and tamari.

    We like to save the marinade if the mushrooms have been hanging out a while and deglazing the pan and reducing the liquid afterwards. If you want to resaute these right before using to crisp them up or just do them ahead of time do that.

    Make sure there is more oil than liquid on them, adding some extra oil to store. Maybe 1 TB or 2. Not more unless you’ll be throwing them into a hash brown potato or root vegetable dish. Later for that.

    2 LB portabello mushrooms

    2 TSP liquid smoke

    1/4 cup soy sauce (tamari if GF)

    1 TB maple syrup

    1/4 cup frying quality olive oil (not EVOO)

    1 TB Worchestershire sauce (vegan recipe from culturesgroup above

    1/2 tsp toasted and ground coriander seeds

    6 TB olive oil or high temp substitute

    Cooking the mushrooms: Get pan hot and add oil. Add mushrooms with tongs. Do not overcrowd the pan. Careful of splattering although there should not be more than 2 TB oil in your pan. Fry them like strips of bacon – obviously not layout bacon – that turn over after a few minutes for even browning. Don’t overbrown.

    You will need to do two to three batches. Have each batch draining on absorbent paper. Don’t stack them on top of each other. Make sure the pan, wiped out if necessary, reheats after each batch and new oil is added.

    After all the mushrooms have been cooked reheat the pan and add ther mushrooms over high heat. Add 2 TB maple syrup and 2 TB tamari and glaze the mushrooms quickly. Remove from pan.

    Use right away or lay out and keep warm. Drying this out only makes them better, as long as most of the water is already out.

    Ginger Date Black Koji Hamma Natto, a super garnish for rice. This is onbe of three major types of natto. This one uses koji, not a bacteria called Bacillus subtillis.

    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/