We have thousands of videos we want to share and hundreds of thousands of videos, but to what end? Information changes so quickly that trying to keep up with it prevents people from learning from each other, let alone even listening.
So, we’re going through them all and only posting the ones we think are useful now and in the next year at the very least.
If you have a specific question after you watch one of our videos or read one of our posts, please ask. We will distill your questions into compact, easy to understand posts and videos as best we can.
This video is about the role of water in chemical and other enzymatic reactions. In other words, knowing how to manipulate the water content of food on a macro or very microscopic level is the key to preserving food, fermenting food, cooking food or just preparing it to ingest it.
Hopefully, the videos will help you to see how we apply our knowledge of both science and cooking to create great tasting foods and beverages. The only thing you won’t learn about here is how to buy something we make or write.
1 1/2 pounds or 680 grams boneless chickens thighs or breasts cut into pieces
1/2 cup or 112 grams truffle shio-koji (or mince a truffle or dried mushroom into shio-koji)
Marinate the chicken in the truffle shio-koji for two hours. Add the ingredients below to the chicke and marinate again for 2 hours.
3/4 cup or 118 grams sake
1 egg or 56 grams
Rub the sake and egg into the chicken, blending it together with the truffle shio-koji. Marinate for another hour. Wipe off the chicken as best as you can into the bowl with marinade. Try to save ever last drop of the marinade.
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup or 184 grams all purpose flour or corn flour
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Oil for frying (about 4 cups)
Mix the baking powder, salt, and flour together. Add to the reserved marinade. It will be pretty thick at this point. Dip the chicken pieces in this and let them sit for as long as you like in the fridge. Or fry immediately. Try and get batter on each piece of chicken as you slide it into the heated oil.
Add the chicken a piece at a time while turning up the heat for just a few seconds until you get half of the chicken in the oil. You need to make this in two batches (or cut the recipe in half). After the first batch skim the oil well, removing any browned bits.
Make sure the pieces are not sticking to the pan. Shake the pan very gently or give them a little push with your tongs or chop sticks
These will cook and brown very fast so turn them over after two minutes at medium high heat. Then let them fry for another 2 minutes at best. Remove from the oil and let drain if you don’t serve them right away on a bowl of rice or another grain or mashed celery root (celeriac).
I typically have a second pan waiting to heat the oil up for a second batch, after I strain the oil through a very fine mesh strainer.
If you don’t serve this right away, or eat it all chill it overnight in the fridge and eat it cold with a truffle oil mayonnaise, or a simple mild vinegar based vinaigrette.
This is also a great way to make a fast chicken parmiggiano. Place whatever type of cheeses you like over the chicken – truffled cheese, mozzarella, parmesan or even Gruyere or Emmental heat in a 400F oven for 15 minutes.
Also, if you don’t have truffles or mushrooms, shred some perilla or shiso leaves into the shio koji before adding the sake and egg. You could also use milk kefir, buttermilk, chicken stock or cold miso soup instead of the sake. You could also use a light colored seitan or other plant protein – just don’t stew it in soy sauce – instead of the chicken.
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?
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.
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
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.
We made this cake first with chopped up whole oranges with peel removed for better distribution made like betterazuke pickles. Those are the type of pickles usually layered with a whole lot of salt, sugar and koji. They are often aged for a long time. Let us know if you want to do that.
Otherwise, a hack just requires some pre-made rice koji. An even easier all purpose hack is bto use kasu (the dregs from making doboroku or sake) with salt.
The easiest thing of all would be to just use your favorite sake or liquid shio koji.
Whatever you decide to do, this is a really tasty, versatile and easy to make pound cake like treat with just a blender.
450 grams or 16 ounces cultured butter
2 TB shio-koji (salt koji or liquid shio koji)
294 grams or 2 cups organic coconut palm sugar
3 extra large or 200 grams of eggs
420 grams or 1 to 2 navel oranges, pureed.
1 TB lemon, orange, or vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 TB baking powder
486 grams or 3 cups flour
Liquid shio-koji can now be purchased online or from many Asian grocery stores. Our friends at The Japanese Pantry and at MTC Kitchen also sell it (and lots of other really cool ingredients). Check out your local Sunrise Mart near Brooklyn Kura if you are in the area.
There is really no difference between liquid shio-koji and the pastier version except for perhaps salt content and a little water. You can blend your butter with liquid shio koji and let it ferment for days or weeks in the refrigerator. You can do the same with the oranges, as we did for four weeks.
Let them ferment for as long as you like. Or not. It’s all good. You can also blend rice koji with water until a paste forms. Add more water and some salt and you have shio-koji. Keep it at 135F for 6 hours and you have the same exact shio-koji that people take weeks to make. The enzymatic activity is the same.
The salt reduces the amylase enzymes that digest sugar and increases the protease enzymes that like proteins. But it will still be a fleetingly sweet and savory marinade and all purpose condiment.
Again, you can always just take out your blender and make a thick paste of the wet ingredients and blend into the flour mix. Simplest, best cake ever.
The icing for this was originally made by creating an amasake type paste using tapioca starch and Aspergillus oryzae (koji) grown out on orange peels. Perhaps this is a new technique to you.
As I described this was recreated from the notes from researchers working with spent coffee grinds, cassava peels, fruit waste, peanuts, wheat bran, soybeans, ad other things that were of enormous interest then and now.
By then I mean in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We will be publishing a whole lot more on these things with recipes using a wide range of Aspergillus types as well as other filamentous fungus (like the ones used to make tempeh) we’ve been making since the 1970s.
Here is a really easy and very tasty way to make this very quickly just like your grandma did back then. We just finished filming a series of videos about making and using shio koji or salted rice koji, but you could also follow the old school way we describe here that most people still think is the way to make shio koji or just buy some from one of the many online or retail outlets that sell it. Either the liquid shiio-koji or the paste works as well.
2 TB fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 cups or 56 grams confectioners sugar
1 tsp teaspoon liquid shio-koji
More confectioner’s sugar as desired if you want it thicker)
Whisk everything together really well. Either serve on the side of the cake when the cake is completely cooled down on a towel, or drizzle over the cake.
Blend together the pureed orange and egg base with the flour and soda. Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake sit outside the oven for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pans. Let cool completely before icing. The icing is not required – you could just dust it with confectioner’s sugar – but it’s sweetness coupled with the orange zest and juice brings out layers of flavor in the cake.
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.
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.
Almost everything we bake, brew cook or ferment contains one or more microbes. Bacteria, yeasts, fungus and other fermented products that already contain microbes (like miso, milk kefir, and vinegar) work exceptionally well in and with baked goods.
Even if you set aside the yeasts common in bread baking, we almost always use shio-koji instead of salt, milk kefir or amasake instead of milk, and often lacto-fermented fruits,vegetables and even grains in baking.
Muffins and tea breads are basically are usually the same batter baked in different size baking pans. Obviously a bigger pan means a longer baking time, maybe 45 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes at 350F for the 8 big muffins that this recipe makes.
Our rules of muffin making as well as tea breads are simple.
The batter should be just barely mixed
The batter should be on the wetter side
Never fill a pan more than two thirds full
Add 1 tsp baking soda with the dry ingredients
Mix ins like nuts go with dry ingredients
Fruits and/or flavored essences or sauces go with wet stuff
Don’t mix in wet fruits or ferments until the end if color maters
Let muffin batter rest and puff up before spooning into cups
The recipe for these muffins pretty much follow the standard muffin ratio that every baker has memorized. Butter by weight equals sugar by weight. That combined weight is the weight of the flour. It’s also the weight in whatever measurement system you are using in liquid. In most cases add-ins like nuts or berries should never exceed in volume the sugar or flour volume.
Because we add a fermented or microbe inclusive ingredient to our baked goods – typically of a lower, acidic pH – we always add baking soda with the powder. Sourdough leavened muffins follow a different procedure based on bakers ratios that we’ll explain in another post.
8 ounces or 1 1/2 cups or 236 grams all purpose flour or other
4 ounces or 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or other
2 tsp baking powder
4.3 ounces or 1 cup or 124 grams roasted chopped walnuts
3.1 ounces or 1/2 cup or 90 grams bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks
1.2 ounces or 2 TB or 32 grams shio-koji (or 1 tsp salt)
8 ounces or 3/4 cup or 230 grams rice amasake (or nut or dairy milk)
1 TB vanilla (or chocolate extract or mirin or soy sauce)
4.5 ounces or 2 extra large or 126 grams eggs (or two vegan eggs)
5 ounces or 1/2 cup or 156 grams dark maple syrup
4 ounces or 1/2 cup or 112 grams roasted walnut oil (or butter/oil)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Have bottom shelf ready for one or two muffin tins.
Prepare the tins with grease or just paper linings.
Struffoli is a traditional Italian holiday sweet that has many names and different regional variations. My grandmother used to make a very simple, tasty, and crispy version by rolling out tiny balls of dough that were fried in light olive oil until golden brown. Then they were covered with honey and colored sprinkles.
My version is fermented like Chinese noodles were thousands of years ago, made with garbanzo bean flour, and topped with lactofermented sour cheeries steeped in honey cooked to the soft ball stage with a traditional Japanese umeboshi (apricot) liquor. I made these recently and my family would not touch them.
They are very tasty, gluten free, and when made with a pasta maker and a sharp knife very easy. They don’t have the same crisp crunch or taste of her dozen eggs, five pounds of flour recipe, but only a fool would try to replicate the different treasures made by their grandmother.
2 1/2 cups (300 grams) chickpea flour
1/4 cup (48 grams) milk kefir
1 tsp shio-koji (or salt)
1 TB vanilla
Ferment in refrigerator for 48 hours, then add:
1 TB baking powder
1/4 cup Haiga rice bran or rice flour
3 TB refined coconut oil
1 tsp Xanthan gum, guar gum, agar or tapioca starch
Refrigerate another 24 hours. Either roll out thickly, or put through the thickest setting of a pasta machine. You could also make thick spaghetti or thick flat pasta and cut the strands into little pieces about a quarter inch thick. Refrigerate to harden.
Fry until golden in two batches of 350F light olive oil. Drain. Let them cool as with all gluten free items before tasting or transporting. Coat with pre-made honey Choya (plum liquor) sauce.
1/2 cup (78 grams) sour dried cherries
1/2 cup (118 grams) honey
1/2 cup (92 grams) water
1/4 cup of Choya that has been boiled down to a quarter of it’s volume.
When the syrup reaches the soft ball stage – it will look very much thicker – and is foaming remove from heat and pour on warm dough and mix. Caution this is very hot sugar! Mold into a ring or mound. Toasted blanched almond slices can be added.
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.