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Shio Koji: Sauce For Magical Umami

Photo:
COLD MOUNTAIN DRY KOJI 22oz tub
For homemade Shio Koji. Easy to follow instructions included.

In Japanese homes, restaurants, and food manufacturing plants, SHIO KOJI has climbed to the stardom of the Umami kingdom. Here, recent feature on the Los Angeles Times called it “the miracle condiment" and “the new MSG" for its supreme ability to transform meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables to instant “deliciousness“, and to tenderize tough, fibrous textures in meats.

SHIO KOJI is a fermented concoction of rice KOJI, water, and salt, its consistency like a runny oatmeal-like sauce, and an effective Umami enhancer, seasoning, and tenderizer. The secret is in the KOJI mold, containing the enzyme, amylase. Known for its ability for breaking down starches into simple sugars in the early stages of Sake brewing, when used with meats and seafood, amylase “feeds" on fibrous protein fibers, while as a by-product, generates glutamic acids which is the building block of Umami flavor.

SHIO KOJI is just like Amazake, just with a sugar-salt swop, normally containing 13.5% salt. A straight tasting would scream “SALTY!", however, the high salt concentration is a necessity to maintain shelf stability. Besides, only a small portion is actually used on foods, usually on a 10 – 1 ratio, based on weight. Marinating in a plastic food pouch overnight or even for a few hours yields delicious results. With SHIO KOJI, bargain priced cuts of meat can get an upgraded quality by a couple of notches. As a condiment, it’s a salt substitute, with a Umami booster bonus.


WHAT IS KOJI?
KOJI is a culture prepared by growing Aspergillus oryzae mold on cooked rice in a warm humid environment. KOJI serves as a source of amylase enzymes that break down natural plant elements into simpler compounds. Aspergillus oryzae is the key ingredient in producing much of the very traditional Japanesed base foods such as Shoyu, Miso, and Sake.

THE 2400 YEAR OLD FUNGUS

The actual beginning of KOJI dates back to 300 BC in China. Subsequently, soy sauce, Miso, fermented black soybeans, and a grain-based alcohol are discovered. Sometime in the 8th century, KOJI reaches Japan, as first documented in the Harima no Kuni Fudoki, an ancient document of Harima Province, current day southwestern region of Hyogo Prefecture.

Traveling Western voyagers also take notice of the strange substance that much of the Japanese livelihood revolves around. Jesuit missionaries in the 1600’s describe “KOJI" as yeast [sic] to make sake. Later, Engelbert Kaempfer living two years in Japan comments on the society’s particularly high regard for KOJI and notes “its production requires . . . the experienced hand of the master." In the US, the first use of KOJI is said to be by Samuel Bowen who learned to make soy sauce in China, and goes on to produce Bowen’s Patent Soy in Georgia in 1766. It’s believed that he trapped natural airborne KOJI spores in China to make his good quality soy sauce production possible.

Along with advancement of studies by modern microbiologists, KOJI is catalogued with its Latin name, Aspergillus oryzae, in 1884. And in 2004, the Brewing Society of Japan names this 24 centuries old heroic mold, the “National Fungus" of Japan.

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Right Photo:
COLD MOUNTAIN CREAMY KOJI 16oz tub
Ready to use and all natural. Great as marinade for vegetables, chicken, fish and more!

IDEAS FOR USE

Rule of thumb is 1:10
Measure CREAMY KOJI SAUCE, 1/10 (one tenth) by weight, of the main ingreident. Marinate in plastic food pouch from few hours to overnight.


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