Lime, Vanilla Bean, and Tarragon Pickle

See The Kimchi Method video for the treatment of cabbage and other vegetables for fermentation or picking. Otherwise, salt down your green, leafy nappa cabbage cut in eighths lengthwise for about 4 hours. Squeeze out very well. Taste for salt. It should be a little too salty, definitely not saltless.

If you don’t have fresh tarragon, dried works very well. You could also use a tablespoon of high quality vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, or a teaspoon of toasted cardamon seeds – not cardamom pods. Lavender and tarragon also make a great combination if you don’t want to use vanilla.

  • 1 cabbage: 1 1/2 pounds or 650 grams
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 whole lime cut into slivers or 1 TB dried or fresh lime zest
  • 1 TB black peppercorns, toasted in a pan.
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt for pre-treatment of cabbage
  • 1 TB coarse sea salt
  • 5 each scallions or 75 grams
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and chopped. (See alternatives)
  • 1/2 yellow or 60 grams onion
  • 1 tsp dried garlic

After you have salted down the cabbage, squeeze as much water out of it as you can. Add the tarragon leaves. Cut the well washed and scrubbed lime in half, then slice in very thin slices. Peel and thinly slice the two peeled onion halves.

Toss with roasted, dehydrated garlic, or garlic chips or powder. You could also use fresh garlic. Toast and grind the black peppercorns, or grind in 1 to 2 teaspoons of black pepper. Add the tablespoon of salt and let sit after mixing well.

Roll the cabbage around the other ingredients as if you were stuffing them.

Lay out the cabbage on a cutting board and place all the other ingredients along the wilted cabbage. Roll up as best you can. Stuff into a well washed jar or another container. Press the pickles down with something heavy, or even a bag of marbles or salt.

Put a very clean drip bowl under the pickles. After 24 hours at room temperature check the pickles. The juice will have likely leaked out of the lightly screwed on top.

Pour it back in and run a chopstick or knife down the side of the jar to ensure the liquid gets in. Let ferment for about 5 to 7 days.

You could keep fermenting it for a few more weeks if you like, or refrigerate it. It should last at least a few months if you keep it covered, and free from dirty forks or spoons.

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Cilantro and Mustard Seed Pickle

See The Kimchi Method video for the treatment of cabbage and other vegetables for fermentation or picking. Otherwise, salt down your quartered green, leafy nappa cabbage for about 4 hours and squeeze out very well. Follow the recipe below. Make sure to toast the mustard seeds in the mustard oil until just about smoking. If it is smoking, pour it into a heat resistant container as quickly as possible while removing from the heat. Put the hot pan in a cool place, but not near water or an open flame.

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Mushroom and Dried Shrimp Kimchi

We used Alex’s dried Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and some dried red shrimp we always have on hand to make my favorite kimchi. The technique is pretty well described in the video class on fermenting using the kimchi technique below.

We are assuming you watched the previous short intro video to treating cabbage for kimchi.

  • 1 Medium sized green, leafy nappa cabbage or about 1 1/2 pounds to 2 1/2 pounds
  • 2/3 cup or 20 grams dried red shrimp
  • 2 teaspoons or 5 grams pan roasted black peppercorns
  • 5 to 8 cloves garlic cloves or 36 grams
  • 1/2 cup or 50 grams coarse salt for pre-treating cabbage
  • 1 cup Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, soaked briefly in the juice of the cabbage (see video)
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt

Chef Ken Fornataro demonstrating the kimchi technique, applicable to hundreds of other types of pickles.

You could use red pepper flakes if you like. You could also omit the shrimp and use fish sauce, or even a little soy sauce with another mushroom. You could even use candied ginger if you can’t get any fresh ginger. It’s excellent!

But this is absolutely my favorite combination of ingredients, especially with the delicate young ginger and roasted black peppercorns. Ready in seven days, too.

It will leak out of the jar without a container underneath it. Make sure the bowl or whatever you use to catch the spill over is as clean as the jar so you can put the juice right back in and rinse off the jar and bowl. Great way to catch the bacteria and yeasts you want in your kimchi.

Also, this gives off very much less strong odors that a full on fermented shrimp and hot pepper based kimchi. on’t worry, we’ll post some unique recipes for that type as well.

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We’re Kimchi-ing. Bright Green Kimchi-ing.

Although most people associate kimchi with spicy red peppers and some type of fish or fish sauce, we consider kimchi to be a method of preparing pickles. Before Koreans started using red pepper flakes and fish sauce in their national dish, they had already created an amazingly tasty spectrum of fermented things with or without cabbage, with or without fish or shrimp.

If you are using cabbage here is an introduction to how to pre-pare it for kimchi, or even saurkraut. Or any numbers of wildly diverse pickles. If you want to attend an online class on making my favorite kimchi just go here.

The kimchi method is pretty well described in the video class on fermenting using the kimchi technique below. The salt amount you use to pre-treat your cabbage, or most other vegetables, isn’t precise.

We estimate that if you are going to use a medium sized head of green, leafy cabbage that weighs about 1 to 2 pounds or 675 grams to make about a quart or liter of kimchi, you will need about 1/2 cup or 50 grams of coarse sea salt or kosher salt.

  • 1 to 2 pounds or 675 grams leafy green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup or 50 grams coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Pickling season has officially begun. Besides, this can take less than a week and will provide a quart or liter of kimchi. Almost instant gratification. And if you only have carrots available? Slice them up and follow the same method. We also love celery kimchi. Or Cucumbers!

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Making Koji Flour, Controlling Water

We have thousands of videos we want to share and hundreds of thousands of videos, but to what end? Information changes so quickly that trying to keep up with it prevents people from learning from each other, let alone even listening.

So, we’re going through them all and only posting the ones we think are useful now and in the next year at the very least.

If you have a specific question after you watch one of our videos or read one of our posts, please ask. We will distill your questions into compact, easy to understand posts and videos as best we can.

This video is about the role of water in chemical and other enzymatic reactions. In other words, knowing how to manipulate the water content of food on a macro or very microscopic level is the key to preserving food, fermenting food, cooking food or just preparing it to ingest it.

Hopefully, the videos will help you to see how we apply our knowledge of both science and cooking to create great tasting foods and beverages. The only thing you won’t learn about here is how to buy something we make or write.

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Three Misos

We made a big batch of basic miso – over a gallon – using converted brown rice and canned organic chick peas. It’s very tasty, easy and inexpensive. As is, it makes a great basic miso. It’s also gluten free and contains no soy products.

However, we added some really special ingredients to it to make 3 different kinds of miso. It’s something we like to do when we make miso. If you have the base, why not create variety? So we made a black garlic miso, a koji cured bacon miso, and a truffle shio-koji miso.

Roasted dried mushrooms of any type work really well if you can’t get truffles. You can add just about anything to it, including dried or partially dried vegetables, or even dried fish.

This is a 4 part series. If you have any questions or think something was left out let us know.

  • 2700 grams rice koji (koji recipe)
  • 5 cups or 850 grams canned chick peas, cooked and drained
  • 2 1/2 cups or 385 grams of coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup or 150 grams of black garlic
  • 1/4 pound or 106 grams cooked bacon (koji cured preferred, but smoked is okay)
  • 1/4 cup truffle shio koji (or dried mushroom powder)

After you have bought or made your rice koji, grind it up if dried or mash with the salt while still fresh and slightly warm. Let sit for an hour or more, then add in the cooked and very well drained garbanzo beans. The beans should have been pressure steamed for 10 minutes, or just heartily boiled for about 15 minutes.

If you mash up the beans before hand they will easily mix with the rice. As you mix, the water inside the beans will make it so that no additional liquid is necessary. After mixing, let sit covered for up to 48 hours at room temperature before remixing and packing it into a container. You could also just pack your miso into a container straight away.

Irish Soda Bread with Walnuts

  • 2 cups or 300 grams malted bread flour (or AP flour with barley)
  • 2 TB or 26 grams shio koji (or 2 TB sweet miso or 1 TB salt)
  • 3/4 cup or 75 grams raisins
  • 1 cup or 275 grams milk kefir (or acid whey, whey or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup or 130 grams water

Raisins and flour fermenting in milk kefir with shio-koji.

Mix everything together well. It will be like a thick pancake batter. Refrigerate overnight or several days. Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Knead in the walnut flour, walnuts and brown sugar, then the baking soda and powder.

  • 1 cup or 75 grams roasted, finely chopped walnuts (or more flour or another nut)
  • 1 cup or 150 grams walnut flour (or bread or all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup or 75 grams light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp or 16 grams baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder (optional, unless you are the unsure type)

Preheat oven to 375F. Plop the dough into the greased pan. Let it sit for a few minutes. Loosely score the top of the bread – if you can, others ignore it – in quarters and make one round loaf that you bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check after 25 minutes with a digital probe or toothpick (200 F internal). Or, fill 24 muffin cups 1/2 full and bake 20 – 25 minutes.

Cultured Orange Cake

Remove the peel from the oranges with a vegetable peeler and blend with the rest of the orange when making the cake. This will ensure better distribution of orange (or whatever citrus) flavor you choose.

We made this cake first with chopped up whole oranges with peel removed for better distribution made like betterazuke pickles. Those are the type of pickles usually layered with a whole lot of salt, sugar and koji. They are often aged for a long time. Let us know if you want to do that.

Otherwise, a hack just requires some pre-made rice koji. An even easier all purpose hack is bto use kasu (the dregs from making doboroku or sake) with salt.

The easiest thing of all would be to just use your favorite sake or liquid shio koji.

Whatever you decide to do, this is a really tasty, versatile and easy to make pound cake like treat with just a blender.

  • 450 grams or 16 ounces cultured butter
  • 2 TB shio-koji (salt koji or liquid shio koji)
  • 294 grams or 2 cups organic coconut palm sugar
  • 3 extra large or 200 grams of eggs
  • 420 grams or 1 to 2 navel oranges, pureed.
  • 1 TB lemon, orange, or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 486 grams or 3 cups flour

Liquid shio-koji can now be purchased online or from many Asian grocery stores. Our friends at The Japanese Pantry and at MTC Kitchen also sell it (and lots of other really cool ingredients). Check out your local Sunrise Mart near Brooklyn Kura if you are in the area.

There is really no difference between liquid shio-koji and the pastier version except for perhaps salt content and a little water. You can blend your butter with liquid shio koji and let it ferment for days or weeks in the refrigerator. You can do the same with the oranges, as we did for four weeks.

Let them ferment for as long as you like. Or not. It’s all good. You can also blend rice koji with water until a paste forms. Add more water and some salt and you have shio-koji. Keep it at 135F for 6 hours and you have the same exact shio-koji that people take weeks to make. The enzymatic activity is the same.

The salt reduces the amylase enzymes that digest sugar and increases the protease enzymes that like proteins. But it will still be a fleetingly sweet and savory marinade and all purpose condiment.

Again, you can always just take out your blender and make a thick paste of the wet ingredients and blend into the flour mix. Simplest, best cake ever.


The icing for this was originally made by creating an amasake type paste using tapioca starch and Aspergillus oryzae (koji) grown out on orange peels. Perhaps this is a new technique to you.

Orange and shio-koji and tapioca sugar icing

As I described this was recreated from the notes from researchers working with spent coffee grinds, cassava peels, fruit waste, peanuts, wheat bran, soybeans, ad other things that were of enormous interest then and now.

By then I mean in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We will be publishing a whole lot more on these things with recipes using a wide range of Aspergillus types as well as other filamentous fungus (like the ones used to make tempeh) we’ve been making since the 1970s.

Here is a really easy and very tasty way to make this very quickly just like your grandma did back then. We just finished filming a series of videos about making and using shio koji or salted rice koji, but you could also follow the old school way we describe here that most people still think is the way to make shio koji or just buy some from one of the many online or retail outlets that sell it. Either the liquid shiio-koji or the paste works as well.

  • 2 TB fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 cups or 56 grams confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp teaspoon liquid shio-koji
  • More confectioner’s sugar as desired if you want it thicker)

Whisk everything together really well. Either serve on the side of the cake when the cake is completely cooled down on a towel, or drizzle over the cake.

Blend together the pureed orange and egg base with the flour and soda. Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake sit outside the oven for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pans. Let cool completely before icing. The icing is not required – you could just dust it with confectioner’s sugar – but it’s sweetness coupled with the orange zest and juice brings out layers of flavor in the cake.

Either drizzle the icing on the cooled cake, or serve on the side. You can add more citrus juice to the icing and let it soak in as well, but this cake is not at all sweet despite two cups of organic coconut palm sugar.

Turnip Ohistashi

The purple top turnips were used instead of celery root for two reasons. We like the taste and ease of preparation of this vegetable, and it is available fresh even during winter months. Slice the turnips into long matchsticks and massage with the coarse sea salt. You will end up losing about 20% of their original weight. You do not have to peel these if you don’t want to. Make sure they are well scrubbed though.

  • 1/2 cup Rémoulade Sauce
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 TB shio-koji
  • 1 to 2 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper (up to 1/2 tsp)
  • Green shiso leaves (or fresh dill or fresh tarragon or scallions)
  • 1 pound or 450 grams purple top turnips, julienned and salted down for at least four hours with 1 to 2 TB of coarse sea salt.

Once the turnips have been fast pickled in the salt soak them in cold water to remove the salt. You could chan ge the water several times. Squeeze the turnips very well to remove any excess water. They should only taste very lightly salted when biting into the center.

Mix all the ingredients together and serve immediately. A crisp apple, cut like the turnips, can be added right before serving as well. You could also grind up the celery seeds if you like. If you want to avoid the mayonnaise or Rémoulade sauce entirely, use another TB of shio koji and 2 tsp vinegar.

Rémoulade Sauce

Mayonnaise and Hollandaise -nEgg emulsions are one of the Mother Sauces in Classic French cooking, and are used in many other cuisines as well. Egg emulsion sauces are almost always made by combining an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice with eggs, then adding fat.

There is usualy enough water in these ingredients that help the sauce to stay together as they are made. If you ever have problems holding an egg emulsion sauce together try adding a very small amount of water, and putting it in a colder place.

Sauces that depend on an egg emulsion include Hollandaise Sauce, and Mayonnaise, and sometimes Vinaigrette (for salads). In some cases, the fat is heated along with the eggs while making the sauce, although that is not always required.

Of course, the acids can vary. We’ve used sour grapes, tart cherries, acid whey, and infusions of koji made with Aspergillus luchuensis to create citric acid that can replace the need for lemon, vinegar or anything else. Liquid shio-koji can also be used, bringing even more umami to the sauce.

The fat used in an egg emulsion sauce could be butter, olive oil, chicken fat, or even lard. In classic French cuisine, clarified butter is almost always used.

We’ll provide you lots of recipes for all these different variations things as we go along but remember in life, and especially in food that balance is the technique, layers of taste the rewards of knowing how to orchestrate the right tongue, mouth, and throat feel.

Smell is often the key to unlocking all the pleasure receptors you want to unlock with whatever it is you are eating or drinking. A lot of that depends on what you can unlock from fats. It also depends on what acid you use. And of course on the liquid, whether water, mushroom broth, fish sauce or microbe infused stock.

Egg Emulsion – Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is really just a cold version of Hollandaise. For this first sauce we kept it simple. Mother sauces, including the progeny of mayonnaise called Rémoulade, should always be capable of becoming the parent of another sauces.

If you add additional onion and fresh dill and sour cream – we do that often – it’s no longer a simple sauce. It would be pretty hard to create another sauce from such as sauce.

That’s not a good thing for a home cook, or a chef unless that is the end goal. With this sauce, you could easily make a dozen variations if you don’t need all the sauce at once.

Rémoulade Sauce
  • 1 3/4 cup or 365 grams mayonnaise
  • 2 TB mustard powder (regular or hot, your call)
  • 2 TB or 25 grams chopped capers
  • 1 TB or 16 grams sugar (organic, unrefined, not brown)
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 finely chopped scallions – around 1/4 cup
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon or 1 TB fresh tarragon

We are going to assume you either know how to make mayonnaise according to your taste, and if you don’t, how to buy whole egg or low fat or olive based or vegan mayonnaises from a store or online.

Mix the first five ingredients. Then, blend in the herbs and scallions. It should look like a mayonnaise with capers and herbs, not a green sauce. Let flavors meld for an hour or more.

This recipe makes 2 cups or 420 grams of sauce. It keeps really well in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days. If you are going to use this right away, you could add the lemon juice from the lemons you grated for the peel. Add a 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 more TB capers if you want it to last longer.

This is great with turnip, kohlrabi or carrot ohitashi.