At tonight’s first #Zymes2020 event at Fifth Hammer Brewing we presented a chili made the typical way. A very small amount of ground beef was browned with onions, garlic, peppers, oregano, lime and other seasonings.
It doesn’t matter what your actual chili base is for this if you decide to make it, although some people do not like spicy foods. When preparing food for a crowd it is always a very considerate and professional thing to consider the preferences of a wide spectrum of people.
The place was packed. Actually the busiest we’ve ever seen it. The people attending the event truly appreciated the samples of food, as well as the unique condiments they could use to alter the taste of the chili to their liking.
A lot of people actually ate the condiments as if they were unrelated to the chili. That’s why you should always aim to prepare whatever it is you are making as if it is the main dish.
We brought ten things tonight that represented the ending of #Kojifest2019, and the beginning of #Zymes2020. We will be publishing recipes for everything we brought tonight.
On the one hand, it’s never a good idea to throw too many ingredients into a dish – and then describe all of them because their eyes will roll back in their heads after ingredient number five and your dialog will quickly become meaningless if not irritating – because one or more will likely not appeal to someone.
On the other hand if everything has so many ingredients and layers of flavor taste buds can get overwhelmed and senseless by the variety. Balance of tastes is important on the level of each dish, and to the extent that each dis contributes to the eating and tasting experience of a diner.
Like, seven different kinds of cake at every meal is not really tasty after a few meals. Would seven different types of wines for every meal be tasty after the first one or two meals? Be simple and let people choice things like condiments and drinks according to their preferences.
The home made doubanjiang (豆瓣酱) we brought was the hottest thing there. And untouched. That’s why condiments are so useful. In a previous post on mother sauces we explained that you can’t remove certain ingredients once you add them.
The chili would not have been so well received if we had added the doubanjiang to it during cooking or right before serving. Once again, that’s why it is so important to know your ingredients, know your techniques, know what has been done in the past, and remember that an artesan of any kind must take into account what others might like when preparing food or drink.
The purpose of everything we brought tonight was first and foremost to provide tasty things. The fact that some of our foods serve as functional foods by providing beneficial microbes, or by not providing discomforting or harmful ones, is always secondary.
Functional foods are important, but there are so many ways to get beneficial microbes into your body when eating fresh or unprocessed foods as all or just a part of your daily intake that you shouldn’t stress about it. In fact, condiments are another way to add live tasty foods to very simply prepared foods.
The chili involves adding dried or freshly made barley koji, garbanzo bean koji, and wheat barley koji – the three made with different types of Aspergillus or a combinations of different types of spores – with salt and water to a meat or plant protein based already prepared chili.
Water or some liquid is important in facilitating the work of enzymes, as they involve hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is not possibly with water.
The unique thing about this chili, and much of which we spoke about, is how we prepared the dish to maximize the contribution of enzymes to the texture, taste and digestibility of the dish.
The Amasake Technique
If you have ever made amasake, typically a sweet rice based beverage or sugar substitute made with rice that has had Aspergillus oryzae grown in it, you know that it is made at a temperature of 140F for at least 12 hours.
If you are uncomfortable about controlling the temperature precisely aim for 135F. If we don’t actually grind our rice koji up first we usually make ours over a 24 hour period and add more water than typical recipes. Because of the sugars created during the process another cooking procedure with amasake tends to be risky if you are in a hurry.
A higher water content makes it less so. We find more water dissolves the added cooked rice as well as the koji rice more completely. Besides, if we have to remove some water we can always boil it down and make rice syrup.
During the process of making amasake the koji uses the enzymes to transform the food, prominently by splitting up starch molecules into simple sugars. That’s called saccharification.
Breaking big molecules or chains of sugar down into littler pieces can greatly aid in overall digestion, but also specifically make certain things digestible at all.
The enzymes that do this with starches that include cereal grains or anything that has carbohydrates in it such as legumes and some vegetables are amylase and gluycoamylase.
But those are not, by far, the only useful enzymes that are produced. Which enzymes and how much of each are produced was part of tonight’s event and will be continued in all 2020 events and posts at Cultures.Group.
In the case of the chili all the ingredients in it, just like the rice that had the fungus grown on it, become substrates.
Other enzymes like proteases – the wheat berries were grown with Aspergillus sojae and Aspergillus luchuensis that provide some of these – acted on the dish much like the amylase enzymes act on the rice. Proteins, fats and even cellulose got broken down into very simple, digestible units.
Esters and other olfactory benefits were produced as well.
We cooked the chili – which could easily have been made with a plant protein – at 140F for 36 hours, stirred it, added some more koji then cooked it for another 12 hours with some additional salt.
If we added even more salt and water we could have made a soy sauce type liquid out of it. Remember that.
It’s part of the koji continuum you’ll hear us talk about often. Remember reheating this on a direct flame can create amost instant singing and often burnt pots.
The more you can complete the dish during the fermentation process, just as with rice amasake, the less chance of that happening.
Recipes and Techniques
The dishes we brought were all, in one way or another, transformed by a filamentous fungus such as Aspergillus or Rhizopus as a substrate, or with the fungus grown onto a substrate. Yeasts and bacteria were also involved, and discussed at the event with respect to how they interact on a very specific level with particular strains and combinations of the fungus.
- Three Koji, Three Filamentous Fungus Chili
- Koji-cured Chicken Liver Mousse
- Wheat and Fava Bean Koji Doubanjiang
- Cashew Tempeh
- Shiso and Koji vinegar
- Aged Koji Kefir Cheese
- Moromi miso
- Three year old, thrice cooked Misodama
- Corn shoyu kasu miso
- Russian Sourdough bread
- Ginger, Kombu, Garlic Betterazuke
- Aged Plum and Barley Koji (A.awamori) Mirin
- Fig, walnut, caramel, sweet plum, and wheat koji conserves
The first event of 2020 is on January 27th. The second is February 17th. Same time, same place, same presenters with new practical tips, guidance and practical ways to use enzymes from microbes or malt.
Thanks to everyone that helped to make tonight a really great nose, eye and palate pleasing event. Register at Eventbrite.