So many articles have been written about shio-koji. You may have made it in your kitchen, and have been using it to cook up delicious meals. Shio-koji is a seasoning, which makes everything taste delicious and everyone happy. If you don’t know about it, or haven’t made or used it before, I will show you how to do.
Two weeks ago I did Shio-koji workshop at MOFAD, Brooklyn. All attendees prepared their shio-koji from scratch. After 10 days of nursing them, by now, everyone is enjoying their delicious babies in their kitchen.
Commercially-made shio-koji is available at Japanese food stores, but, I urge you to make your own. The process of making it is simple and great fun, and the end product is 100% natural – nothing more than koj-rice, sea salt and water. Koji-rice is easily available at Japanese food stores or online stores.
Let me introduce you to my people back in the 18th and 19th century (Edo period). This woodblock print depicts people crossing over the Nihonbashi bridge, the original site of the Tsukiji fish market. It was during this time that Shio-koji was a popular seasoning. Shio-koji fell out of favor when Japan marched for modernization.
Myoho Asari was born as a first child of Kojiya Honten in Ohita Prefecture, Japan. Kojiya Honten is a 320 years old company, which makes and sells koji-rice. One day she began to dig deep about the history of Shio-koji. She wanted to contribute to the expansion of her traditional family business. Her passion became the product of shio-koji. She appeared on television and radio programs, and traveled extensively to teach people about this ancient seasoning. Soon after, large and small food companies jumped on the same bandwagon and began producing Shio-koji products. Myoho Asari is known today in Japan as a ‘koji woman’.
Koji is a fungal microorganism, which has been commercially used in Japan since 13th century to produce fermented products such as sake (rice wine), miso, shoyu (soy sauce), mirin and rice vinegar. Koji-rice is the steamed rice which was malted/inoculated with koji, and is the foundation of fermentation.
How to make shio-koji:
100g sea salt
300g koji rice (I recommend Cold Mountain Brand koji-rice: Japanese food store or on-line store)
500g water (soft water; NYC water is ideal!)
- Rub the shio-koji between your hands. Warm them up.
- Rub the shio-koji with the sea salt.
- Add 400g water and stir. After 15 to 20 minutes later add the remaining water and stir. Transfer the mixture to a sterilized jar with a lid. Keep the jar, covered, at room temperature.
- Next 5 days (during warm and hot climate) or 10 days (during cold winter time) once a day open the lid and stir the koji with a spoon for about 50 times. Treat shio-koji as your new baby. Needs proper care, or it goes sour or rebel!
- After 5 days or 10 days your shio-koji is ready to use. Firs 2 days koj-rice remains firm and voluminous. On the 3rd and 4th days the mixture becomes looser. Make sure that koji-rice is always covered with water (barely). Do not add additional water. At the end of maturation koji-rice becomes looser and develops faint sweetness.
HOW TO USE Shio-koji:
There is only one rule. Use 10% of shio-koji to the weight of the ingredient which you are pickling or cooking.
Example 1: 7 ounces (200g) chicken thigh needs 20g shio-koji to marinate for 20 minutes to overnight
Example 2: 7 ounces (200g) radishes, cut into slices, needs 20g shio-koji to pickle for 20 minutes to overnight
Shio-koji works for chicken, duck, pork, beef, fish, vegetables,…..everything. Good luck.