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

    Third, Make Corn Miso

    This miso is a very special miso for us. We use it not only with fresh seafood, especially shellfish and grilled vegetables, but also for several dishes we grew up on. These include gachas with rabbit or fresh bacon, polenta cakes fried in thick green olive oil and cloves of garlic, and Argentina style harina tostada in the morning with toasted almonds and fresh figs.

    A little sumac and mashed garbanzo beans makes a great falafel type fritter with chopped pickles and hot sauces and creamy tahini, as well as a type of pancake that we used to eat in the Summer with grilled peppers and basil. We didn’t use corn miso back then, but this miso now gives us a reason to look forward to Summer when we tear through corn fields like raccons, knowing exactly when the corn milk is ready.

    We make lots of corn based things with koji. Corn miso, corn amasake, corn doboroku, corn sauces like soy sauce, and corn shio-koji because we love corn. We consider it a local treasure in the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. It grows pretty much anywhere in the United States.

    Actually, you can’t get better corn or soybeans or a whole lot of other grains and beans than those grown in the USA. Even the rice grown in the USA is spectacular. Check out our growing resources list.

    When you can buy organic pre-made masa harina (corn treated with lime) it makes things very easy. But you don’t even have to nixtamalize corn to use it. Koji and other microbes are all too happy to chomp down on corn to make it digestible for humans.

    We can grow koji on corn cobs – listen up food wasters – and cornmeal itself. We didn’t come up with the later idea. It’s been down for hundreds of years throughout certain areas of Asia. We just think we may have elevated the practice to a higher level. Corn koji was in the past considered inferior. It’s not at all.

    First, let’s make this very simple and incredibly versatile miso. We’ll post some more corn miso recipes in the next day or two.

    Corn Rose Miso

    Corn Rose Miso is one of the easiest misos you can make. You can use regular rice koji instead of jasmine rice koji. You can even use corn water or fresh corn put in a blender instead of amasake.

    Note that we make only one quart of this miso at a time. This smells so good you’ll want to eat it while you are making it. You can use lavender or another flower essence if you prefer, or leave it out all together.

    • 1.5 cups/425 grams amasake or water
    • 2 cups/322 grams jasmine rice koji or other rice koji
    • 2 cups/234 grams organic masa harina
    • 2 TB/35 grams fine sea salt
    • 1 tsp rose water

    Heat amasake or water to 110 to 135F but not above. When you are sure the temp is below 135F add the rice koji (ground into a powder if you like) and the organic masa harina. If you want a sweeter, faster miso add another cup/100 grams of ground rice koji and a little warm salted water.

    Mix everything together well as if you were making dough. The miso should not be crumbly. You should be able to roll it out into balls that aren’t hard. Add a TB of warm water and a pich of salt several times if necesary to loosen the miso up, but remember that removing liquid from a miso can be nearly impossible.

    Cover it very well and let it sit for a while and come back and add more water then instead of forcing it. You will need these types of adjustment skills for the more complicated corn misos and other misos we’ll walk you through. The detailed miso steps descriptions will be posted by then as well.

    Sprinkle rose essence over miso and pack into a well cleaned wide mouth jar a little at a time to prevent air pockets. The jar must be very clean. Rinse out with a little water and sprinkle with salt if you aren’t sure. Make sure the jar doesn’t have any cracks in the rim or you cut get badly cut.

    Place a small weight inside the quart jar and cover with parchment or a thick plastic bag cut into pieces. Screw on top. Check at a week. It should be done in 30 days, but you could check it and taste it at two weeks if you like – especially if you added more koji.

    Don’t ferment over 72F. If you do, check it every few days and chill if it starts to sour or smell off. But you should avoid that from happening. Refrigerate when it’s ready. You should see a little pooling of a yellow brown liquid called tamari on top. Mix it in. Or lick it off when no one is looking.

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    Second, Mark the Steps

    This now three year old miso now has been moved to a storage container, and really doesn’t need to be weighted down at all. You should always cover your misos though.

    Making miso is like planning out the 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 them – 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 this microbial rave, and just how tightly you pack everything in. Tight enough so interactions between molecules can’t be avoided, but loose enough so that they can actually take place.

    Miso is pretty much an anerobic (airless) fermentation, but you do want to allow some way for the gases built up to escape and not get trapped in the miso itself. In the old days the clay pots or wooden barrels allowed just enough gas (carbon dioxide) to escape.

    If miso is a longer production lasting a year or more you will need a lot more salt than if you are making a miso that could be ready in days, weeks or months. The bacteria and yeasts we just described above may like oxygen, but they can’t tolerate salt. They are halophobes.

    Mellow Miso ( Shinshu or Yellow Miso)

    Lactobacillus, however, can tolerate salt and also can get by with a small amount of oxygen – if any. They are halophiles. You want them to develop in your miso to prevent the nastier tasting microbes from taking over.

    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 and temperature is going to be controlled inside and outside of the miso.

    No insects, pets, other critters nor just any microbe hanging out should be allowed to sneak into the show. Choreograph the process. Unless you know what steps to take, and there is a written plan to follow, fixing a miso that has stepped out of bounds can be very time consuming and sometimes not possible.

    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. Some people take many days to actually complete the process doing it in little batches. It can be easy if you keep things to a readily manageable size.

    Although there might be more ways to make pickles throughout Asia than there are ways to make miso or it’s relatives, there are quite a few ways to do it. Here is how we start out, modifying this plan if we change the outcome we want.

    At this point we don’t even need to look at this list. We have our scales at hand and make our labels and lists ahead of time. The first time we made miso in the 1970’s we really wish someone had provided us with something like this though. An extensive discussion of these points will be linked to this list if you want more details. A photo guide with the first few recipes will be posted as well.

    Let’s Start

    • Soak beans and grains
    • Have your koji ready
    • Have a list of things you will need for the process
    • Check that all ingredients are at hand
    • Check that your tools are cleaned and ready to go.
    • Make sure your work area is clean.
    • Make sure the place the miso will be stored is ready.
    • Check that your weights fit in your container.
    • Weigh all the ingredients and make notes
    • Cook beans or grains
    • Cool down drained beans and liquid
    • Weigh everything again
    • Prepare koji if dried
    • Check temperature of cooked. beans or grains
    • Weigh your koji and beans/grains
    • Calculate the amount of salt needed again
    • Add seed koji and salt to koji and mix very well
    • Mash up your beans or grains very well
    • Dry out beans or grains if too wet then cool down
    • Mix half of the cooked beans or grains into the koji
    • Let sit about an hour.
    • Add the rest of the beans or grains.
    • Mix very well.
    • Roll some into balls to test consistency
    • Let sit covered or pack into container
    • Place a sheet of wrap or parchment on top of your miso
    • Place weights on top of miso.
    • Wrap miso securely.
    • Label the covering and side of your miso.
    • Log miso into calendar or phone.
    • Check miso at day 2 and day 7.
    • Carefully remove covering from miso
    • Carefully remove weights and coverings from miso using gloves.
    • Replace weights and repack.
    • Check miso during fermentation process.
    • Carefully remove covering from miso.
    • Carefully remove weights and coverings from miso using gloves.
    • Scrape back any top layer and taste miso.
    • Grind or sieve miso.
    • Move miso to clean container.
    • Refrigerate or store miso.

    We’ll give you the recipes for a few misos following these steps. After that we’ll show you how we decide how to make an untraditional style misos using these steps, including how to calculate the amount of salt, koji and beans, grains or whatever you need to make miso or one of it’s relatives in the next post, with the extended description of these steps.

    First, Make a Wooden Barrel

    The three biggest issues with making miso are where your koji is coming from, what container you are storing your miso in, and where you are going to store it until it is ready.

    Miso is a nutritional powerhouse that provides hundreds of millions of people with what we all need to live on a daily basis: protein, fats, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates for energy.

    Miso tastes great, and is one of the most versatile things you can use to cook, ferment, or preserve food while elevating it’s taste and nutritional value.

    Miso that is not pasteurized is the best source of a lot of enzymes your body needs to digest anything you eat. In fact, miso is such an ideal food because it has already undergone a process through which all these things have been broken down into easily digestible pieces.

    Most misos are made with soybeans. The process of soaking the beans, cooking them, and then fermenting them reduces or completely eliminates the typical anti-nutrient properties of beans and grains. Soybeans, other beans, grains, grasses and what are called pseudo-grasses are incredibly tasty, safe and nutritious to eat. 

    Beans and grains are like anything else you eat. Avoid chemically adulterated and heavily processed foods, and check that they have been properly handled and processed.

    Organically grown soybeans and corn and other beans are readily available. We very highly recommend these people – and many others. So if you can’t access the real stuff let us know!

    Remember that appropriate processing, germination, and fermentation are techniques that make these things accessible, safe, tasty and nutritious. Actually, more nutritious.

    Miso is a microbe battlefield. Until the gang of bacteria called lactobacilli move in and make sure no specific bacteria or yeast threaten the peace it can be chaotic.

    You don’t want a specific bacteria called B. subtilis, or other unwelcome microbes, growing in your miso. But if you clear the field of unwanted threats beforehand everything will be safe for the friendly bacteria and yeasts and other microbes that are so tasty.

    The B. subtilis will still be there – it’s everywhere including in your stomach, cows and other animals that graze, and in dirt – but the other bacteria and yeasts will keep it under control.

    Miso is flexible – to a point. You can make it, and develop a community of living microbes, nutrients, enzymes and vitamins with almost any type of bean or grain. You can even make miso with potatoes or acorns, using koji made from cornmeal.

    The traditional soybean based misos, almost always made with rice or barley koji, as well as other combinations of beans or grains made into miso, are great. There are simmered misos, blended misos, and ones that include meat, fish or birds that are both tasty and versatile.

    Misos made with vegetables fermented in the miso during the process are also very tasty. Then again a fast miso that will be ready in days or weeks can be just as tasty for certain purposes.

    What do I make miso in?

    This may seem like a silly question but all your bowls, jars, crocks, mixing bowls, mashing tools and work area have to be cleaned. Beforehand.

    What do I store it in?

    You can actually still store miso in a barrel but very few people do. They usually use glass jars or a ceramic crock. Sometimes I you food safe plastic containers. Certain misos can be refrigerated after a brief period of fermentation in plastic bags in the refrigerator.

    Whatever you use, decide what it will be. And make sure you have the right weights to weight your miso down as well.

    The three biggest issues with making miso are where your koji is coming from, what container you are storing your miso in, and where you are going to store it until it is ready.

    Seriously. In the past the first thing you did when you were making miso was to have a barrel maker make barrels for the miso. It was a big community affair.

    It was more complicated back then. Miso often meant you would have food for those times when it wasn’t so readily available – or at all – so it was made according to tradition.

    In other words, you made miso the way that was known to work, with the ingredients and the tools you had on hand.

    That has all changed. The industrialization of the miso making process has occurred. If you know the basics and the Science you can pretty much make miso out of anything. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will taste good.

    So, many fewer people make miso in a community setting, or even at home anymore. It’s actually not all that hard. Our suggestion to you is to not consider making more than a half-gallon of miso at home the first time you attempt to make miso.

    You can do that once a month if you like if you have the space and the time and the need for lots of miso and you know what you are doing but there is a substantial investment in time and resources to make miso in quantity.

    It’s been our experience that most people lose interest, or other interests take precedence. And there are lots of really exceptional misos available for sale all over the world now.

    So follow the recipes we provide or research what you want to do, or ask us about what you are planning if you want.

    Or just jump in and make mistakes. You’ll see why we sugest to keep it small at first. But you will learn.

    We’ll provide some standard guidelines we’ve used for decades to determine how to make unique and creative misos based on what you have on hand.

    Miso is a survival food. When there wasn’t rice or soybeans, potatoes and millet were used. Or barley and acorns.

    There is a strong likelihood that someone has already made the type of miso you are considering.

    So ask us, or go to http://www.soyinfocenter.com and search. It’s there. Or check out books and papers in our reference section.

    Got Koji?

    Knowing how to work with koji is a skill that everyone should possess. And Miso is really one of the more spectacular things you can do with koji. If you don’t know how or don’t want to make your own koji, you can buy rice or barley koji online or from health food stores or Asian food stores.

    We’ll explain how to make many different types of koji, especially soybean koji because we’ve never seen it for sale anywhere, but don’t let that stop you.

    Once you get a whiff of the different intoxicating smells of rice koji being made you will be hooked. Freshly made koji has a very seductive smell.

    You can also make your own shio-koji (a type of seasoning marinade), and amasake (a naturally sweet grain paste made by breaking down starch) with koji. You can make miso using shio-koji or amasake as well, along with quite a few other things.

    Where do I store it?

    Where are you going to store your miso when have finished assembling it and it needs to age? Whether it’s a short or medium or long aging process it works best in a stable place.

    What does stable mean? It means the temperature won’t go up or down from like 45F to 100F.

    Miso can actually be buried – in the right type of container – and even freeze in a well tempered wooden one but it will take more time to age. But it will be tasty and complex!

    Lower temperatures do really slow things down though so it’s not a great idea to put your miso somewhere that it could freeze. At least not until a few weeks have gone by so the crucial lactobacillus type of bacteria can develop. Your miso might even be done by then, anyway.

    If you are making miso in a place that has a stable environment or even outdoors as long as no animals or insects can get at it, and it’s well covered and weighed down, just make sure it doesn’t bake in the sun or heat.

    If you are making miso in a house that has a stable environment or even outdoors as long as no animals or insects can get at it, and it’s well covered and weighed down, just make sure it doesn’t bake in the sun or heat. And follow the steps in the next part.

    Douchi and Hamma Natto

    Most people know them as little, raisin looking salty and pungent black beans or fermented beans. They are also called douchi or taucho. They are typically made from soybeans, often black soybeans. You can also use the yellow soybeans but they will eventually turn black anyway.

    There are also different ways to make them, using different cultures. We use koji, in this case Aspergillus sojae that is typically used for making soy sauce. If you make koji out of soybeans and use Aspergillus sojae it also makes a fine miso so it makes sense for us to just make a lot at the same time.

    Kecap Manis Miso made with Hamma Natto and other ingredients. Like a Kinzanji style miso, everything was fermented together at the start. The results were stunning.

    Only in rare situations do we use soy bean koji to make quick things – but stay tuned. You’ll want to try those things. We also always like to have black soybeans around for natto, especially if we can get really small ones.

    After the beans are washed, soaked and cooked gently until still intact but not at all mushy, they are dusted with the koji. Just like when making amasake, after 48 hours at 90F you can either use them as fresh koji or keep sporulating them until they turn green then darker green.

    With amasake if you keep it going it will be suitable to make sake or country style doboroku from in another day. Why not grab half of the amasake first, then continue and make a nice chilled beverage?

    These black soybean douchi were then fermented wi†h fermented ginger and salty koji brine, and took about a year until complete. We also have a stunning hack for this process that produces as good beans.

    These were dried during the summer – although you could use a dehydrator or even fans – then packed with chopped dried dates, chiles, the dried ginger from the earlier stage and a salty brine (20%).

    After a day of macerating the beans will become like somewhat dry but still edible raisins, moist but not wet. Pack them into clean jars or crocks. They’ll last for at least a year. If you refrigerate them they will last for several years. You’ll eat them before that though.

    We are serving ones made with a smoked brine before dehydrating at this upcoming event. They make an intense marinade, an unbelievable barbeque sauce base, and an addition to a nerumiso miso (either fermented with everything from the start, or as a simmered namemiso.

    Dried Hamma Natto style (with koji) black soybeans going into a 15% sodium date brine that will make them last for a long time.

    You can pretty easily pre-made Chinese style douchi at an Asian food store. It’s what they use in most Chinese restaurants in sauces that say with black bean sauce (and some that don’t even mention they are in there). But ask to be sure otherwise you could get a spicy bean paste sauce you might find overpowering. If you buy them they won’t ever look like a paste, but dried raisins.

    As opposed to Japanese style hamma natto, Chinese shih will most likely be made the same way but with the mold washed off before brining and drying. This type (shih or douchi) are typically spicier and often have sugar. They aren’t typically fermented as long.

    But, if you are pressed for time just follow the above technique – we use a brined date syrup and ginger – and pack them up. Throw a few into a stir fry of anything with some fresh hot peppers and garlic and you will be glad you did. Marinate shellfish or a strong fish such as mackerel or even smoked tempeh with these and grill them over indirect heat or broil.


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    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!

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    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/