Cooking Parts – Baking and Donut Math

Doughnut Math

Remove 1 part and this is a doughnut. Do the math.

Muffin math first, though. In part I we made muffins and tea cakes based on the math that the doughnuts, popovers, tea breads, waffles, fritters, muffins and pancakes are based on. When you see how removing 1 part from the recipe will get you some amazing apple cider donuts or cruellers, you realize how important this is. And the popovers into cream puffs with chocolate icng trick. Read on.

220 grams (around 1 3/4 cups flour) is 200% or 2 parts of the recipe. That means that one part for this recipe and any recipe in this group requires 110 grams of something. You really need a scale, but we provided approximate volume amounts.

For 6 muffins and a a small tea cake that’s okay. But if you were making 60 of these in a professional bakery being off by 200 grams of any ingredient would really matter.

For muffins and tea breads the ratio is always 2 parts flour to 2 parts liquid. So if you have 220 grams ( 2 parts) you need 220 grams (2 parts) of liquid. In this case we used yogurt. That counts as a liquid ingredient. It happened to be a cup of yogurt that weighed 220 grams.

Any muffin or quick bread has another ratio. You need 1 part egg and 1 part fat. Now you could use bacon fat for a savory muffin that everyone would love you for, or shmaltz in a mushroom muffin, or melted butter in a peach and caramelized almond muffin, but it has to weigh 110 grams. That is what we said 1 part weighs.

So, you need 110 grams of eggs. Good thing that 2 large eggs almost always weighs 110 grams. Don’t sweat about 10 to 20 grams over or under for such a small batch of muffins. It’s close enough.

Now, as for the salt and baking powder (and 1 tsp of baking soda because we used yogurt) this recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 2 tsp of baking powder. I always use 1 TB of baking powder because I usually have a lot of add ins, but the 1 tsp of soda that interacted wit the yogurt made up for the rising ability of that other teaspoon of baking powder.

Depending on the add-in I can get away with up to 1/2 to 1 1/2 parts. In the recipe above the bananas were 1 part, the raisins one half part. Don’t fill the muffin tins more than 2/3 full. Extra batter could go into making two baby tea cakes. I threw some minced toasted brazil nuts I had lying around in those. So do you want to make waffles and pancakes, fritters, doughnuts or popovers next?

Cooking Parts – Baking

Let’s say you didn’t grow up in a family that loved to bake. I did. Or even steam fermented doughs or buns made with some type of wild yeast or active ferment. Ditto. It was a very complicated multiple cultures and ethnicities thing.

Everything almost always goes back to that triangle of the Chinese, Arab and Indian people thousands and thousands of years ago. When they migrated outward they brought with them things that the people of their new homelands turned into unique and amazing things using ingredients and techniques associated with those countries or people and their terroir or climate.

In the history of fermentation the development of a way to grind up grains into flour on a large practical scale shifted the almost universal use of rice and millet as the basis of all fermentations to wheat.

Barley was pretty much sprouted to make sugar or malt when the natural amylase enzymes that break down the starches in things like grains and beans once activated. Typically, barley doesn’t contain enough gluten to make anything but softer, cake type things. You could add a little ground barley flour to anything you bake, but almost every all purpose flour on the market already contains sprouted barley flour.

The items listed are pretty much all the same recipe with very minor variations. The difference between a tea cake and a muffin is really just container you bake it in. Got leftover pancake batter? Add a little more fat such as butter or oil and some fruit or cheese or vegetables to make a sweet or savory tea cake or muffin.



Then again, have any leftover fritter batter. The batter to make fritters is waffle or pancake batter without fat. The more fat contained in something you fry, the fattier it will be, so a great fritter shouldn’t have any fat in it. Likewise, with doughnuts. Had to tell the difference between those two except for the shape.

Doughnuts are usually just fritter batter with some type of leavening like baking powder or maybe yeast. With doughnuts with added ingredients like applesauce you might want to reduce the liquid amount. Add the apples to the liquid and weigh it. The important thing is that you maintain the basic recipe ratios..

Popovers are the item here that usually doesn’t contain any leavening other than egg. The fat that they are cooked in is usually a great source of flavor. Yorkshire Pudding are popovers that use the caramelized drippings and beef fat from roast beef.

To a professional Chef or Baker the goal is maintain the ratio of flour to water. Or Starch to liquid. Then you add small amounts of other ingredients, but always in what are called baker’s percentages. If you use baker’s percentages you just really need to know the weight of any ingredient you want to add.

When making bread, the flour is the cornerstone of bakers percentages. You can do the same with quick breads, which are basically breads without yeast. But right know I need to make muffins.

I need to make muffins (but not these this time) for breakfast. So I have a few items I want to use up. Some yogurt, some dried out raisins, toasted hazelnut oil, over ripe bananas that I could easily make into vinegar but I need muffins now. Part II coming up.

Muffins and a Little Tea Bread



  • 1 3/4 cup or 220 grams flour (100% AP or 165 grams AP and 55 grams sorghum)
  • 1/2 cup or 110 grams organic dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

If using salt instead of shio koji mix in with the above ingredients. The idea to is to blend them together very well so it will be easier to very quickly mix in the liquid ingredients.

  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup ( yogurt or nut, cow, rice or soy milk) or 220 grams
  • 2 eggs or 110 grams eggs
  • 3/5 cup or 110 grams toasted hazelnut oil (or any oil)
  • 4 ounces or 110 grams or 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 2 TB shio-koji or 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup or 55 grams plumped raisins

Mix the liquid ingredients together very well. Then, dump the dry ingredients on top of the wet ones and mix gently until they just come together. You can start mixing, then wait ten seconds, then start mixing then wait another ten seconds to allow everything to be absorbed.

Do not whip or beat the ingredients. Use your biscuit hand! What does that mean? Gently mix ingredients slowly so as not to create heat nor gluten. Always best to do this is a colder area when possible. Some people like to chill their wet ingredients.



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.



Ingredients
  • 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.


Icing

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.


Ingredients
  • 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.



Ingredients
  • 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.


Basic Pickle Technique


Daikon Radish. Fresh, with bright green leaves. You could use carrots, kohlrabi, or another radish instead. Or mustard greens. Or kale. Follow the instructions in this recipe.

People have been fermenting and preserving food for at least 4,000 years. What tends to be forgotten is that preservation and fermentation methods almost always grew from a need to survive during periods of time – usually a change of seasons – when there was no fresh food available for months. 

This pickle is incredibly hard to keep down – as far as smell goes, anyway. An air lock that allows release of gas (carbon dioxide) is very useful at the start, as is wrapping it in several bags when refrigerating, but it will most likely smell anyway.

There are sulfur containing compounds in many of the ingredients and they tend to smell when they are broken down during the fermentation process.

If this is your first fermentation journey put a bowl under your pickles, or something that can catch potential spill over.

When ferments are still alive and unpasteurized, you get all the prebiotic and probiotic benefits including lots of vitamins and minerals. They are usually easier to digest, and tastier.

A temperature of 72F is usually a good temperature to keep your ferments under. Lower than that, and they will take longer.

This does not contain any koji or a starter culture other than the sourdough starter. It really depends on bacteria to make it sour and protect it. We’ll have hundreds of recipes that use koji and other cultures as we go along.

Try this and see if it serves as a good go to recipe for anything fresh you see at the market, or grow. Be aware of how the water or juice content changes.

This will become very important if you ever decide to start adding fermented shrimp, raw fish, or other high protein ingredients with another recipe, and making longer ferments.

Those ingredients may not have enough salt in them, so you would need to increase the salt in your recipe one way or another, and watch how it affects the water content and movement in your ferment.

Then again, salt can affect the enzymes in your ferment and that can spell disaster over time. For now, keep things clean and follow the recipe for this type of pickle.

Weighing your ingredients using grams as the basic measurement will avoid a world of regret and sorry. This is a fact.


Fast, Simple, Tasty Kimchi using sourdough starter throwaway

Sautéed Fermented Garlic. For this recipe you cold also steam it, but you should cook it.

  • 950 grams radish (3 medium sized) with stems, or another vegetable
  • 32 grams fresh ginger (organic, candied ginger also works very well)
  • 2 TB dried red pepper (or another mild pepper or 2 tsp good turmeric)
  • 62 grams or 4TB coarse sea salt. Use 1/2 the weight/2TB if using fine salt that doesn’t have anti-caking agents or added chemicals.
  • 62 grams peeled and de-stemmed garlic (fresh or pickled)
  • 104 grams or 1/2 cup wheat sourdough starter (rice paste or another starch if not available)
  • 1 TB sugar or dried fruits or diced apple or pear (optional)
  • 2 TB Fish sauce or fruit juice or kombu flakes or tamari (optional)

We first salted down our daikon radish (see salt amount above). After an hour, strain the liquid off, but save it. If this were cabbage, you would now rinse it very well and squeeze it out or let drip off. You would do the same with any greens, and things like zucchini or cucumbers as well.

Because we only put a quarter cup of salt (62 grams) on this amount of radishes, and we are going to ferment this with fish sauce – you don’t have to put fish sauce in here, and could replace it with seaweed or soy sauce – you don’t need to rinse anything off. An easier, yet still very tasty pickle.


Sautéed daikon greens, garlic and ginger

We sautéed the radish greens, garlic and ginger in 3 to 4 TB of rice bran oil. Use what oil you prefer, but a bland one. You could also use water.

Cool this mixture down before adding to the sourdough starter that has been mixed with the salty radish water you had left over from the hour long soak that released at least a cup of liquid.


Leftover sourdough starter that has been slow fermenting at 40F for 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Makes great pastas, and bread. Mix with other ingredients for the fastest gnocchi or dumplings you’ve ever made. Or use leftover baked potatoes or another starch.

The starch feeds the yeast and bacteria while your pickle becomes tasty and sourer over time. You could add a few pitted dates or sugar for the same reason if you like.

As the sugars are eaten bacteria known as lacto-bacteria (LAB) are produced. This lowers the PH, protecting your ferment from other microbes that are not invited.


Ingredients ready to be assembled.

We used 2 TB of Red Boat 40% because we had that much left in a bottle. You can use any fish sauce you want, or none at all. We also decided to add 2 tablespoon of red pepper.

Typically we’ll use fresh Holland red peppers, but the dried flakes that are sometimes caled Dutch chiles, might be easier to source. These are much milder than the cayenne peppers from which they were bred. By the Dutch, obviously. They are called gochugaru in Korean.

Some people are intolerant to pepper so be careful how much you use, and how you handle any pepper. Some people can’t even smell them without having an adverse (allergic) reaction.



Gloves are always a good idea, and a good habit to get into. Don’t ever touch your eyes, or other parts of your body if you think you may have gotten any juice on them.

Wash your gloves as you go along, and watch out for seeds. The seeds of hot peppers tend to be really hot.


No air lock because this was already finished, and was refrigerated.

This ferment should be done in five or six days. You can eat it when you like the taste. Keep it under the juices (also called the brine). Kimchi is one of those ferments we like to press down to remove air pockets that could rapidly spoil it. That’s also why it has to be under the brine.

Don’t stick unwashed or used utensils in a ferment to taste it, ever. You can ferment this or up to a month but eat it as soon as possible after that, even if refrigerated. This is not the kind of pickle that ages very well.

This is one of our favorite and easiest things to make because you have a really good pickle you could eat right away, or let ferment, pressed down under and under air lock for up to a month. It doesn’t even need refrigeration.


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.