Shio Koji (salt koji)

Shio koji can be kept in an air lock sealed jar but we prefer the refrigerator unless we are aging it. When aging shio koji we typically add some alcohol. We will have some quick pickles made with shio koji at Monday’s event.

  • 300 grams of koji (rice, barley, corn, wheat, etc.)
  • 100 grams of coarse salt
  • 400 grams of water

As you can see the golden rule of shio-koji making is a 3:1:4 ratio. You should try to make the salt equal 12.5% of the total weight of your shio-koji. By weight, not by volume.

The salt percentage of any shio-koji should be between 12 and 15%, but never exceed 15% or go below 7%. There are yeasts and microbes that can still live in a 7% salt solution. Over 15% and protease and other enzymes are denatured. You could still use it as a seasoning though.

If you are using 300 grams of koji, you massage that with 100 grams of salt. Just like when making miso you should always massage your koji and salt.

Quick pickles made with shio koji

If you wait an hour you will see a dramatic change. The temperature may even rise. That means your koji has active enzymes.

You can make this in a blender – our preference – but remember that any time you expose koji to mechanical action it will produce heat. Don’t make a lot at once, and chill your Vitamix or blender first.

After grinding or massaging the salt and koji add the water. You add 400 grams of water, cover tightly and place in a dark place for this recipe. Shake every day for 10 to 14 days.

Store in refrigeraor or at room temperature under air lock. Don’t make too much at a time, as it will become infected with wild yeasts and bacteria if you keep opening and closing the container.

When using shio koji to replace salt you should use 2 to 3 tsp to replace a tsp of salt.

A tablespoon of shio koji per pound of fish or meat to marinate for 15 minutes is enough. Usually 10 to 15% of the weight of whatever you are using the shio koji on will suffice.

There is sugar in shio koji so careful when you cook it. Wipe the shio koji off if you like. It’s excellent in baked goods.

Coconut Fennel Beer

Roasted Sourdough Coconut Fennel Bread in a rich malt broth.

Eventbrite (Register at this link, or at MeetUp for cash donations)

January 27th, 7 to 9:30 come ask questions about any of the recipes or methods used in this post. Two extremely skilled fermenters, and cutting edge brewers, Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett will be in house helping us answer questions.

They create their brews at Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Long Island City, where the event is taking place. Take a look at their menu! And try some things that we made using enzymes, and yeasts starters. We’ll answer any question that you have about anything fermented.

We used lots of different types of grains inoculated with koji. We made syrups out of them by making amasake from both rice and barley inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae (koji), then slowly boiled them down to a very thick sweet paste.

You could use store bought barley malt or rice syrup.

We also added some DME, or direct malt extract, to the broth or what is called the mash if you are making beer. You could use all powdered DME if the syrups are too time consuming or expensive.

Sweet Malted Wort meets Toasted Coconut Fennel Sourdough Bread

Our yeasts were from what are sometimes called Shanghai yeast balls. These typically contain koji as well as other fungal enzymes like the ones you can make tempeh with called Rhizopus oryzae.

These enzymes work to break down big starches into small digestible sugars for humans, and for yeast food. When starches are broken down like this they are then called fermentable sugars. The yeast can eat them and create alcohol and gas.

Yeasts balls crushed up, and a fancy instrument to measure the SG of your beverage. This is important when you want to know how much alcohol something contains. Not much at all at the start – or at the end.

Chinese yeast balls called 麹 in traditional Chinese also contain specific bacteria that are widely used in the food sector to turn starches into sugars, including for fermenting. The Japanese recognize the word 麹 as meaning koji as well.

But the Japanese got their alphabet (or kanji) from the Chinese. It’s a system of pictograms. The Japanese dramatically altered both the language and the koji so that now most people refer to koji as the purified, Aspergillus only Japanese version.

Chinese starter cultures are dramaticaly different, but do often contain some Aspergilllus oryzae as well. It can be confusing when 麹 is used. All the great spore producers are in Japan.

The original koji mash we boiled.

We wanted to introduce people to the concept of mashing, above, as well as adding house made or store made malt extracts in powder or liquid form.

If you have enough you won’t even need the powdered malt extract. On the other hand, you could double the dried malt extract and skip the koji syrups. (original recipe)

The yeast forming a nice top of the beer. This beer doesn’t have hops, though. So this is really, really old school.

After straining the liquid we had intended to use for something else we realized we had lots of liquid koji extracts in the refrigerator. We also had lots of sourdough bread that had some flavoring components in them. Those became this spiced beer.

  • 6000 grams liquid cooled down to 95 to 105F
  • 950 grams heavily toasted sourdough bread (coconut and fennel sourdough bread was used in this recipe)
  • 22 grams crushed yeast balls (2 to 3 balls)

When the malted liquid made from either koji syrups or liquid or powdered malt – your goal is a starting SD of 1.040, but don’t worry about it if you can’t measure it – is below 105F, pour over the sourdough and let it absorb the liquid. Keep warm.

After about an hour the bread should have absorbed the liquid and be around 95F. As long as it’s between 72F to 95F it’s okay. Add the crushed up yeast balls and stir for about 5 minutes.

Cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour. Stir well again and put in a sanitized container. It should not fill the container more than half full. Put in warm area, maintaining a temperature as close to 82F as you can, covered with an air lock or just a sanitized cloth. Stir once or twice a day for 3 days, tasting as you go along.

At day 3 strain the mixture well with a sanitized strainer. Put in smaller sanitized container and let it settle for a few hours. Then pour off the top liquid into sanitized bottles and let sit again, this time in a cool area.

Either pour off the liquid again after about 12 hours – rack it some more while pouring the liquid through a very fine nut bag or brewing bag – or don’t and refrigerate until very cold.

Leave about an inch space in each bottle, then seal the bottles tightly. Be aware of carbon dioxide buildup. Burp the bottles if they appear to be building up gas.

Careful when taking the bottles from a very cold refrigerator to a warmer area. As with water kefir and milk kefir, open bottles with a towel over a bucket if necessary.

Ask questions at our upcoming event! There are two ways to register depending on whether you have cash or credit. Most people are registering using Eventbrite, but register at our MeetUp page if you have cash or can’t afford anything. Just register.

Part 2 of the Chocolate Brew

Eventbrite (Register at this link, or at MeetUp for cash donations)

January 27th, 7 to 9:30 come ask questions about any of the recipes or methods used in this post.

Two extremely skilled fermenters, and cutting edge brewers, Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett will present and answer questions. They create their brews at Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Long Island City, where the event is taking place. Take a look at their menu!

Try some things that we made using enzymes, and yeasts starters. We’ll answer any question that you have about anything fermented.

The following recipes demonstrate methods that are useful across the board for anything you brew. Yeast is involved, as are bacteria.

We measure the starting SG (specific gravity) and PH of everything. We count on bacteria to create lactic acid to lower the PH in some brews, but not this one.

We could easily just add some lactic acid up front to lower the PH quickly to protect the yeast from infection in any brew, but that does not avoid the need to always be sanitary. Even when you have an open brewing system like with sake.

Once the yeast takes hold it will be able to control the environment of the brew, but in many cases unless the lactic acid producing bacteria are prevented from infecting the moromi or mash, the yeast may not stand a chance.

Utensils hanging out in Star-san. You can even save it for bottle washing weeks later.

We’ll talk about sanitation in future posts. For now wash everything, use gloves, and boil everything that could come in contact with your brew.

Everything always follows strict rules of sanitation. Get some Star-san and use it. You could also use bleach, but that’s a lot more tricky.

Rice sugar extract, similar to a liquid malt extract.

We wanted to introduce people to the concept of mashing, as well as adding house made or store made malt extracts in powder or liquid form.

Obviously introducing people to some basic principles of yeast starter building and maintenance for everything from sake to shoyu to beer if they haven’t been introduced is always a good thing.

We’ll discuss all these things at the event, and in future posts after the event.

Chocolate Koji Kvass (濁酒)- continued
  • 3785 grams (1 gallon) water
  • 1400 grams rice koji syrup (warm)
  • 445 grams barley koji syrup (warm)
  • 240 grams dried powdered barley malt extract

After straining the liquid we realized we had lots of liquid koji extracts in the refrigerator. We also had lots of sourdough bread that had some flavoring components in them. So we set the liquid we made in the previous post – our sweet little wort – and decided to make a more refined base for our Chocolate Koji Doboroku.

We boiled these together in a sanitized pot being careful not to scorch or burn the bottom.

  • 85 grams bittersweet chocolate

We added the chocolate right near the end of the boil of 60 minutes and mixed it well with a sanitized whisk. At the 50 minute mark is fine.

The cooling down wort waiting for it’s yeast.

When the boil got down to 90 F we added the yeast and stirred. You can use an ice bath and cold water to get the temperature down.

Proofed S.bayanus yeast ready to go.

After that, we put a sanitized lock top lid on top. We waited a week or so until we sampled it. Keep it at 72F or below if you can.

We may add some additional chocolate at this point similar to an infused sake. If you plan on doing that hold back some chocolate and let it steep in a small amount of alcohol or water in the fridge. Come try some.

Maple Syrup and Smoked Pomegranate Kvass

Organic beets. Do not discard the greens, including the stems.Do not discard anything you trim off, unless it is not organically grown. You only need the actual beet bottoms for these recipes, though.

Come and ask questions of two extremely skilled fermenters and cutting edge brewers, Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett. They create their brews at Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Long Island City, where the event is taking place. Take a look at the menu!

The Event is January 27th, 7 to 9:30 Come ask questions about any of the recipes or methods used in this post about beets. Try some things that we made using enzymes, and yeasts starters. We’ll answer any question that you have about anything fermented. Plus, this is a #vegan event.

Pomegranate powder about to be incorporated into a smoky maple syrup and fennel seed beet base for a great probiotic drink. And for cockatils as well. Got shochu?

Smoked Maple and Pomegranate Beet Kvass

  • 425 grams washed and diced raw organic beets
  • 1250 grams of water (enough to cover the beets in a half gallon jar)
  • 1 to 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 30 grams coarse sea salt. Do not use fine sea salt for this. Kosher salt is okay.
  • 4 TB maple syrup
  • 4 TB pomegranate powder (or just add more maple syrup or molasses)
  • 1/8 tsp liquid smoke or ash. Do not use more. Add more when finished if you like.
  • 2 TB unpasteurized vinegar (apple cider vinegar with the mother, etc.)
  • 4 TB Pomegranate Molasses (or more maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (organic, any type. If replacing maple syrup and pomegranate with dark molasses, use 1/2 cup more)

Mix everything together in a large bowl with gloved hands or a spoon. Otherwise, your hands will get stained. If you can’t get pomegranate powder or molasses use more maple syrup as indicated. You can also use organic dark brown sugar or organic molasses. The fennel seeds are essential, but can be replaced with anise seeds.

Other natural smoke flavorings or even smoked soy sauce or smoked salt can be used, sparingly. Smoked salt does not replace the coarse sea salt. Add some smoked salt to your kvass before serving if you like.

Ferment in an area where it is between 72 and 85F. It should take a week to ten days. If the temperature is lower, it will take at least 14 days before it is ready.

Put baby in the corner.

Shiso Leaf and Beet Kvass with pickled beets
  • 216 grams ( about 3 medium sized beets) raw organic beets. If not organic peel them. Otherwise after cutting into thick matchsticks wash them in cold water by rubbing them gently.
  • 1500 grams warm water. This will cover the beets that are placed in a well washed and sanitized half gallon glass jar.
  • 190 grams Shiso Vinegar*. Our Shiso vinegar has enough salt in it to act both as a starter culture, and as a deterrent to unwanted bacteria and yeasts. The base is an apple cider vinegar with lots of the mother in it. There are both yeasts and bacteria in vinegar.

Cover the jar tightly and shake. You could also dump the content of the jar into a bowl and mix them well. Then, put them back into the jar and cover with an airlock, or a tight lid. To be safe put the jar in a bowl or dish. If it looks like air is building up in your jar, loosen it to let it escape then retighten it.

This should be done in 5 to 7 days, but can go for two or three weeks if you like. Save the beets for a fantastic beet, pickle and apple salad. Or dress them with a miso dressing as a side dish. You can also start a new batch using the liquid if you like as a starter culture.

*Perilla vinegar substitute – You can use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and mix in some umeboshi vinegar (about 1/4 cup), or use some shiso furikake (check the ingredients if you are a vegan) with vinegar and salt. You could also use vinegar, 3 TB of coarse sea salt and fresh dill or toasted dill seeds, or roasted black peppercorns.

The perilla vinegar could also be replaced with 40 grams of coarse sea salt. If you know beforehand then cut the beets thinner or into smaller pieces. Either way it should taste just a little salty at first, but not extremely salty.

Only salt will take about 2 weeks, but check it as you go along. Don’t stick unclean spoons, forks or fingers in your ferments.

Chocolate Koji Kvass (濁酒)

Heavily toasted rice koji (A.oryzae) sourdough bread.

  • 150 grams rice koji
  • 200 grams wheat berry or brown rice koji (or more rice koji)
  • 300 grams heavily toasted cubed or ripped apart sourdough bread.

Mix above ingredients and toast slowly in oven for two hours at 200F. Stir occasionally. Not burnt, but really brown for the bread. The koji won’t change color much but will smell amazing.

The rice koji bread above is obviously not as dark as a pumpernickel bread would be. Bread made with rice or another koji is preferred, but use whatever leftover bread you have.

Use whatever koji you have. Can’t get your hands on koji? Use malt extracts. We’ll discuss those tomorrow.

Two hours after slow roasting our kojis and bread.

  • 24 cups boiled water, cooled down to 140F

Pour the water onto the mixture hanging over your fermenter in a brew bag. Stir the contents in the bag well.

Let sit, covered with a sanitized cloth or plastic wrap for 24 hours as close to 120F as you can.

It’s okay if you can only keep the temperature at 72F.

In the sanitized brew bag. In a fermenter (a plastic, food safe bucket that fits right into our cooler) that can easily be chilled.

We’ll decide what to do for yeast once you lift the brewers bag out carefully letting every last drop drip out. Don’t squeeze the bag, though. Save the dregs to make vinegar or compost it.

You can also dry it out and use as breading for fried foods or as a thickening agent.

You should have either brewers yeast, yeast balls, champagne yeast, sake yeast or even another type of yeast for tomorrow.

Ask questions at our upcoming event! There are two ways to register depending on whether you have cash or credit. Register here if you want to bring cash or make donations. If you want to register with a credit card use the Eventbrite link.

Let’s Get Startered

Yeast starters and starter cultures that contain yeast – like the original koji for which the Chinese Kanji (麹) was created – sometimes also contain other types of bacteria, fungus and even other yeasts.

Take, for example, sourdough starter. It’s easy to turn that into vinegar because there are already some bacteria and yeasts in there just like there are in kombucha.

Eventually, often with the help of wild yeasts and bacteria, both of these will eventually become alcohol. Vinegar is made from alcohol, either fermented fruits like apples or peaches, or from grains.

But controlling how much yeast, and especially what kinds of yeast get into a specific starter is how most alcoholic and non-alcoholic fermentations are successfully made.

It’s essential that any utensils and containers you use are very clean. Always kill off as many wild strains that may be lurking before starting or proceeding – unless these are part of your fermenting culture.

Sometimes rinsing everything with boiling water is enough. Other times it is woefully inadequate. Equally important is making sure ever ingredient is properly prepared.

Soaking tree nuts or beans, for example, helps to remove undesirable substances that can ruin fermentations, or mess up your digestive system.

Some yeasts work remarkably well at protecting crops from diseases. These are benign and helpful yeasts. But even then sometimes these microbes in large amounts actually cause allergies, and what are sometimes mistaken as intolerance to a specific grain or nuts.

So soak your nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Some recipes call for salt, vinegar, alcohol or lactic acid to help the process along, but it’s usually about how much salt is involved and how the water or moisture content of ingredients is affected.

Some yeasts can take can take up to a 7% sodium content, so controlling the entire microbiome of the things that you are making is crucial. Some harmful microbes can be eliminated by pre-drying or curing.

Soaking ingredients, along with treatment with enzymes produced by sprouted grains or microbes such as Aspergillus strains or lactobacteria, can also greatly assist in making breads, misos, kefir, and soy or amino sauces more nutritious, digestible, and free from potential residues.

January 27, 2020 – Event at Fifth Hammer

Come and ask questions of two extremely skilled fermenters and cutting edge brewers, Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett. They create their brews at Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Long Island City.

You’ll also get to try some things that we made using enzymes, and yeasts starters. Plus, we’ll answer any question that you have about anything fermented. Of course it would be great if you had any hard core science related questions posted here, or sent to beforehand so we could have a concise answer for you.

We revised the agenda based on specific requests from people about yeast starters that are useful when making a wide array of things such as beer, miso, soy sauce, meat or fish sauce, sourdough bread, vinegar, sake or kvass.

For example, someone really wanted to know about using a yeast starter for making beer. Although someone knew what sourdough bread kvass was, they asked if a yeast starter could improve it. Kvass made with fresh or old sourdough bread, heavily toasted for flavor and color, can be improved by a yeast starter, and can be flavored not only with wild herbs and roots and dried fruits but also with hops like beer.

Making Kvass

  • 1/2 gallon room temp water, left out overnight, covered, if you are concerned about chlorine or other substances.
  • 4 cups of leftover sourdough starter at room temperature (most people collect it in the fridge or freezer)
  • 1/2 cup Zante currants or other dried fruits such as raisins or cherries
  • 2 cups heavily toasted cubed or ripped apart sourdough bread. Not burnt, but really brown.
Heavily toasted sourdough bread and dried carrots were combined with a yeast starter to make a deep carrot and caramel toast flavored Kvass. Kvass typically is made with dark breads that contain rye, wheat, barley and often dried fruits, but you can use any heavily toasted bread.

Mix all the ingredients above in a well cleaned vessel that is able to take a doubling in volume. Unlikely, but until you’ve had to clean an overactive or over yeasted beverage that didn’t actually explode we recommend not letting it get above 80F.

Do not increase the amount of yeast. Give it space. The mixture will most likely be very thick after about an hour, at which point you will add:

  • 12 cups room temperature water
  • 1 – 2 cups sugar (jaggery, piloncillo, dark brown, organic cane, palm sugar, etc.)
  • 1 tsp brewers yeast, or bread yeast or even unpasteurized kasu (the pressings or dregs) from a recently made sake.

Do not add more yeast unless, at four or five hours at 75F, it appears that nothing is happening. The bread wil most likely have floated up to the top, so once you mix it the yeast will grow. Because yeasts love oxygen. And the bread top may be blocking air flow. Stir.

Always cover loosely with a cloth or several layers of mesh. Do not cover tightly. Strain at 24 to 48 hours if you like the taste. It will becomes a little more sour each day.

Once you strain it – don’t discard anything – put it in bottles and chill. Do not fill the bottles to the top. Do not screw lids on tightly. After a day at 50F or less degrees, you can rack off your strained kvass.

Racking is siphoning off, or pouring off the liquid on the top and leaving the sediment. This is a standard brewing technique and it comes in very handy for a whole range of different things.

Strained kvass being racked and chilled. We added dried carrots to the brew. Very low alcohol content, lower than most kombucha.

Hope you did not throw away anything. We’ll make vinegar and a beer from the dregs! Register for the January 27th event for more details and recipes.

Malted Grains, Koji and Rhizopus. Amazing tasty foods and brews. #Zymes2020:

Monday, Jan 27, 2020, 7:00 PM

Fifth Hammer Brewing Company
10-28 46th Ave Queens, NY

13 Members Went

Yeast starters and starter cultures that contain yeast – like the original koji for which the Chinese Kanji (麹) was created – sometimes also contain lactic acid or other types of bacteria, fungus and even other yeasts. Take, for example, sourdough starter. It’s easy to turn that into vinegar because there are already some bacteria and yeasts in the…

Check out this Meetup →

Mixed Kojis and the Dregs

At one of our monthly forums we had lots of already cooked, organic Carolina Gold rice leftover. We also had lots of soybean pulp, or okara, leftover from making tofu.

Okara has a large amount of protein that like other beans and grains and seeds makes a tasty miso. Remember protein equals amino acids equals umami so throwing away protein is just crazy.

Ground millet koji and less ground rice koji

Those are the times you are glad you have 2 or 3 kilos of koji hanging out in your refrigerator, or in a cool cupboard or larder. You can, however, cut this recipe down to just a quarter of the called for ingredients, and even substitute whatever type of koji you have for the millet koji.

Those are also the times you are glad you have a scale to weigh out your ingredients, because with leftovers it’s really unlikely you just happen to have exactly the right amounts of any ingredient. If, for example, you need 2564 grams of ground koji, and you have some millet koji and some rice koji and some corn koji in different amounts what happens if that comes to 4356 grams of koji?

LIke shio koji, miso is typically made using a ratio of ingredients. Again, salt drives the proportion of the other ingredients in your miso. You really have to weigh your salt carefully. Because the amount of salt you use determines how long you should ferment your miso.

Even if you vary the amount of koji you use because you want it to be sweeter or be ready quicker, salt will determine whether that is achievable regardless pf what you use to make your miso.

Work it to a paste.

Koji may be the driving force behind your ferments, but salt makes sure the road is clear, steers the car, and, and determines which microbial passengers get in or out of the car during the journey.

Determine beforehand where you are going so that you how much salt you need to get there. There are maps and calculations involved. Here is what you need for this miso.

We’ll go over the calculations afterwards. Because miso don’t play when it comes to back seat drivers, and arguing about directions once you start the journey. Sure, you can probably make course corrections as you go along, but these detours typically require both more energy and time. That will cost you.

Mixing in the okara (72F) and the now pretty mashed up rice and kojis and salt

Again, we only use organic non-GMO beans for anything we make with soy. So unless you have a soy allergy, fermenting the soybeans with grains creates a very nutritious miso with very little or none of the potentially indigestible things that most beans have.

Ingredients (in grams)

  • 1796 grams cooked rice
  • 768 grams soy okara
  • 1044 grams ground rice koji
  • 1000 grams ground millet koji
  • 296 grams coarse salt
  • 75 grams seed miso
  • 235 grams water

Okay so typically a miso that has roughly equal weights of koji and the miso base – in this case the rice and the okara – will be a 12 month miso. In other words it will take that long to ferment before it really pops. But, the salt still determines just how fast and to where this miso is going.

LIke making legislation, at first.

You would usually aim for between 10% to 12% for such a creation. But because we already ground up the koji, and we added the seed miso to make sure our miso had the right microbial influences during its youth and stayed sweet at heart we decided to make it a 6% salt miso.

We added up the weights of the cooked rice, the soy okara, the ground rice and ground millet kojis (the koji can be all unground white or brown rice or barley koji if you have that on hand), the seed miso and the water. Then we calculated a specific percentage of salt we needed to make that: 300 grams.

Play with your miso balls

Because we added both water and seed miso to this, we calculated the salt amount with those ingredients in the formula. We usually don’t do that. Instead we usually just weigh the beans or grains after cooking and mix. If you have cooked them properly, you usually will not need either liquid or even seed miso.

Balls waiting to be smashed into the container a few at a time to remove air. They will yield to the collective.

We reviewed our miso making list and made sure all our bowls and container were clean and salted down – again, we really dislike using alcohol for this because we feel it better for the development of the taste of the miso, but use really strong tasteless vodka or something that is at least 80 proof to rinse things with if you like – and our space and faces were clean and smiling.

We also used gloves, and make sure we didn’t pour anything directly down a drain or anywhere else without a strainer.

Grind some coarse salt over the top. Just a sprinkle is needed. Definitely not more than a few tablespoons though, unless you think it’s going to be at or above 85F for a long time.

We mixed our salt and ground kojis together with the water and seed koji with a clean spoon – whole unground koji would have been massaged with the salt – then mixed in the okara then the rice.

Use protection. Every time. Every time.

Then we massaged the miso mercilessly until it felt turgid like a really thick balloon filled with liquid, incapable of crumbling and willing to yield just a little when pressed down.

Cleverly weighed down by using another very clean food safe bucket that can be filled with whatever it takes to get to 2500 grams. This way if the miso starts to creep up the side or exude tamari too quickly – that would be less than a month in this case – the weight can easily be reduced by removing some of the weights from the bucket.

Because we had already created our two labels for our miso – for the side of the container and the hoodie or whatever covering you use, and we already had 2500 grams of weight ready because we always try to weigh it down with at least half the weight of the finished miso – did we mention you really should be using a scale for this? – it took about 30 minutes from start to finish.

So the next post we’ll show you how to use shio koji in your misos, pickles, salads, salsas and condiments and more.

A little Maillard reaction – brown like a duck
Repacked for another three months. It already tastes like a young miso on its way to developing into a miso of character and strength with countless possibilities.

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.


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, (Evolving lifestyles) or 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! with questions!

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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) 


  • 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


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? event with

Check out this other event on March 2, 1 to 3 PM on Bokashi Fermentation

“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