Posted on Leave a comment

Use Shio Koji to Make The Best Fried Chicken Ever!

More Tender, More Delicious, More Juicy

Shio koji has the ability to tenderise meat, whilst at the same time adding a depth of flavour. This means if you use it to marinade chicken you can create the tastiest chicken nuggets you’ve ever eaten!

The fantastic thing about shio koji is that it doesn’t alter the taste of the chicken – it just makes it taste more “chickeny!”  It adds a depth of savoury flavour (umami) that is irresistible.

The salt in the shio koji has the added benefit of brining the chicken at the same time – making the meat juicier.

The Science Behind It

Koji has the ability to break down the proteins in the chicken, converting them into a range of amino acids which are especially delicious. This breaking down of the proteins also makes the meat more tender.

First Make Shio Koji

To make shio koji, just mix:
 
Blend to form a smooth paste.
 
It can then be used immediately, or left to ferment for one week to improve the flavour. 
 

Adapt the Recipe to Your Taste

The nuggets are delicious without adding herbs and spices to the breadcrumbs, but you can adapt this recipe to use your favourite blends. It works equally well with the KFC blend of spices as it does with a Japanese karaage chicken.

Get Experimenting!

You can’t really go wrong with fried chicken – it tastes delicious whichever spices you decide to use!

Shio Koji Fried Chicken

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Marinade Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Fusion
Keyword: chicken, shio koji

Ingredients

  • 500 g Chicken, cut into bite sized pieces For best results we recommend chicken thigh, but wings, or even breast meat can be used.
  • 100 ml Shio Koji
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 100 g breadcrumbs You can use gluten free bread, if required
  • 100 g plain flour

Instructions

  • Mix the chicken pieces with the shio koji until they are evenly coated.
  • Cover and leave to marinade in a fridge for at least 8 hours
  • Remove the chicken from the shio koji and dip each piece in the flour, then the egg, then finally the breadcrumbs
  • Fry the chicken pieces in a deep fat fryer until golden on the outside and cooked through.
Posted on Leave a comment

Fava Bean and Toasted Rice Shoyu

This fava bean and toasted rice shoyu is perfect for those who are allergic to soy, or avoiding soy beans for sustainability reasons. It is also gluten-free. 

I’ve developed this recipe to use koji, so there is no need to crack wheat or grow spores in an incubator – that tricky part is avoided/done for you. The hardest thing about this recipe is waiting four months for it to be ready. I failed on that part – removing spoons from the top of the mixture a few weeks before it was officially ready! But as someone who’s allergic to soy and so had to endure years without a delicious, umami filled Japanese sauce I think I can be forgiven.

Fava Bean and Toasted Rice Shoyu - A Soya Free Soy Sauce

This fava bean and toasted rice shoyu is made in a similar way to soy sauce, but is completely free from soya. It is perfect for those who are allergic to soy, or avoiding soy beans for sustainability reasons. It is also gluten-free.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time45 mins
Maturing Time120 d
Total Time120 d 1 hr 45 mins
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: shoyu, Soy Sauce

Equipment

  • 3 litre jar
  • Sauce pan
  • Muslin
  • Bowl

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Rinse the fava beans, removing any bad ones
  • Soak them in one litre of cold water for at least 8 hours
    Soya beans soaking in water
  • Replace the water, pour into a pan, and simmer gently until the beans are cooked (approximately 45 minutes)
  • Whilst the fava beans are cooking, spread the rice on a baking tray. I used a white sushi rice, but any type of rice will do.
  • Bake the rice at 180'C until it is golden brown. This will take about 20 minutes. Ensure you shake the rice regularly for an even colour.,
  • When the fava beans have cooked, drain them.
  • Add one litre of water, which has been boiled and then allowed to cool slightly, to the 3 litre jar.
    Note: The water is boiled to ensure all bacteria is killed, but ensure it has cooled, as if the water is too hot the jar might crack.
  • Add the salt to the water and stir until dissolved.
  • Transfer the cooked beans and toasted rice to a 3 litre jar. Mix well.
  • Once the mixture has cooled to below 40'C, add the koji.
    Note: If you don't have a thermometer, just wait until the jar no longer feels warm.
  • Stir well and then cover with a cloth - I used a muslin, which I attached with an elastic band, but you could use a T-Towel and string.
  • Leave the jar at room temperature for about 4 months; stirring every other day for the first week and then weekly after that.
  • After 4 months the colour will have darkened and the liquid will taste delicious! To remove the liquid from the solids, strain through a muslin. Squeezing to remove as much liquid as possible.
  • Pour into a sterilised bottle and then store in the fridge. Use as you would soy sauce.
Posted on Leave a comment

Miso and Sesame Salad Dressing

This is my favourite salad dressing. It works really well with crunchy vegetables – like carrots, cabbage and cucumber; but I also like it as a dressing for pulses.

Here I’ve added it to cooked carlin peas (which are similar to chickpeas, but with a nuttier taste) and served it with kuku, a herby egg dish from Iran. A perfect, healthy lunch!

Follow the link for details on how to make 10 day miso 

 

Miso and Sesame Dressing

This creamy dressing is perfect on salads. It works really well with crunchy vegetables, like carrots, cabbage and cucumber.
Prep Time2 mins
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Fusion
Keyword: miso

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp 10 day miso
  • 1/2 clove garlic crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl
  • Drizzle on your favourite salad.
  • Enjoy!
Posted on Leave a comment

New Sustainable Packaging!

Umami Chef koji is now available in sustainable packaging!

We’ve been working with Foxpak, Europe’s leading provider of sustainable packaging, to produce a new package for our koji.

It’s been specially designed to use less energy during its manufacture; whilst also releasing fewer greenhouse gases.

It’s made entirely from plant-based materials and is compostable!

Many thanks to Ryan from Multiple Graphics for the sleek design. 

You can buy koji in our new sustainable packaging here: 200g White Rice Koji

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Step-by-step Guide: How to Make Akamiso 赤味噌 Red Miso

Red Akamiso 赤味噌 Miso is one of the darkest, most flavourful misos. It is typically aged for over a year to produce a rich paste, packed with umami flavours. It’s generally used for marinades or glazes, but it’s strength means a little goes a long way!

The long fermentation time means that a higher salt content (around 13%) is needed. It is also beneficial to make a larger volume than you would for the sweeter misos – smaller volumes may not ferment as well and if you have to wait a year for it to be ready you don’t want to run out of miso once you’ve discovered how delicious it is!

This recipe is for the smallest volume I recommend, although you can multiply it up to create larger amounts, as desired.

When aging misos for a longer period it is also important to put a weight on top of the miso as it matures. This should weigh at least 500g (25% of the weight of the miso being made). This weight will press out any air pockets which form during fermentation, minimising the risk of mold growth. 

The taste can be too overpowering for some recipes, so it is often mixed with sweet white miso to produce a blend known as awase miso. 

 

Note: Traditionally soybeans are used to make miso, but as I’m allergic to soy I’ve use fava beans.

Step-by-step Guide: How to Make Akamiso 赤味噌 Red Miso

Red Akamiso 赤味噌 Miso is one of the darkest most flavourful misos. It is typically aged for over a year to produce a rich paste, packed with umami flavours.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
365 d
Total Time365 d 2 hrs
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: fermented, Koji, miso, soya beans
Servings: 180 10g
Calories: 56kcal
Cost: £20

Equipment

  • 2 litre jar
  • Saucepan
  • Bowl
  • A weight for the top of the miso

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Wash the beans, removing any remaining pieces of shell
  • When the water runs clear, cover and leave the beans to soak in cold water for at least 6 hours
  • The beans will almost double in volume. Place beans in a saucepan with fresh water and simmer gently until cooked. This will take about 45 minutes for fava beans or 2 hours for soybeans.
    Alternatively: A darker colour miso can be achieved if the beans are steamed, instead of boiled.
  • Drain the beans in a colander, saving the bean cooking water for use later.
  • Mash the beans. If you like a smooth miso you can pulse them in a food processor. I prefer a chunky miso (which I can blend to a smooth paste, if a specific recipe requires it, once the miso is ready) Some people also like to put the mixture through a meat grinder, to produce a well mixed paste. All methods will produce a delicious miso!
  • Add the salt and mix in.
  • Once the beans have cooled to less than 40'C (if you haven't got a thermometer wait until the beans feel the same temperature as your skin - or cooler) stir in the koji.
  • Now try to form the mixture into a ball. At this stage it will probably be too dry and fall apart.
  • Slowly add the cooled bean water that you saved earlier. Mix well and stop as soon as the mixture can be formed into a ball.
    Note: If you've forgotten to save the bean water you can used cooled boiled water.
  • Get a clean 2 litre jar/crock. Moisten a clean paper towel with bean water and rub a small amount of salt all over the inside - this will help to prevent mold from growing at the edges.
  • Press the bean mixture into the jar, one layer at a time. Try to remove as many air bubbles as you can.
  • Once all the mixture is in the jar, wipe the edges with a clean paper towel.
    Lightly sprinkle the surface with salt and then cover with cling film.
    Find a plate or jar that fits inside your crock and then place weights on top of it. These will continually press down on the miso, removing air pockets as they form.
  • Leave the miso in a cool, dry place for a year. Then enjoy!
    The miso can be matured for longer than a year, it will become darker and deeper in flavour the longer it is left.
    Note: The miso in the picture has been blended to a smooth paste.

Notes

Traditionally soybeans are used to make miso, but as I'm allergic to soy I've use fava beans.
Posted on Leave a comment

The Ultimate Guide to Making Miso Soup

Miso soup originates from Japan. It’s a delicious savoury soup, rich in vitamins and minerals. It can be made as quickly as a cup of tea, or in under 2 hours – if you desire the ultimate, authentic taste.

In its simplest form miso consists of two ingredients: dashi and miso paste.

Dashi 

Dashi a stock used in Japanese cookery. It is normally made from kombu (a type of seaweed), mushrooms (shitake are used most frequently) and katsuobushi (dried, fermented tuna) but it can made from just one or two of these ingredients. 

Miso Paste

Miso paste is traditionally made from soybeans, salt and koji. There are thousands of different types of miso in Japan, but you’ll normally only find one or two in the UK.

Miso paste (note: the words miso and miso paste are used interchangeably and refer to the same thing) can be bought from most supermarkets. If you’d like to try a greater range of misos you can visit Japan – or buy Umami Chef koji and use it to make your own miso! It’s really easy – you just mix cooked beans with salt and koji and then leave it to mature for as little as 10 days. You can make miso from any bean and experiment with different flavours. This means that you can enjoy miso, even if you’re avoiding soy beans, as homemade miso can be made with fava beans, cannellini beans, or even lentils! Find out more about making miso on my miso page.

Any miso can be used to make a soup – a sweet white miso (like my 10-day miso) makes a light creamy drink; whilst a dark, rich miso makes a more savory soup, which can be easily turned into a meal by the addition of vegetables, tofu and noodles.

The easiest way to make miso soup

You can make miso soup very quickly by using a shop bought stock – any stock will produce a lovely, warming drink.

Simply make up the stock using the directions on the packet, then stir a heaped teaspoon of miso paste into each mug. 

A range of stocks suitable for making miso soup

 

For a more authentic taste, use instant dashi stocks from Japan. These can be bought in many Asian supermarkets or online (just search for “dashi stock”). Occasionally larger supermarkets also have dashi stock, but these can be expensive.

Note: Most dashi stocks contain fish, but the green one on the right is suitable for vegans.

A range of dashi stocks that can be used to make miso soup

 

Making Dashi From Scratch

The ultimate, authentic dashi is made from scratch.

The essential ingredients for dashi: kombu, shitake mushrooms and katsuobushi flakes

 

  1. Add 20g of kombu to 1 litre warm water and leave to soak. For the perfect dashi the temperature should be held just below 60C for 40 minutes (bitter notes can form if the temperature rises above 60’c).
  2. Remove the kombu and add 40g dried, chopped shitake mushrooms. Simmer gently for an hour.
  3. Remove the mushrooms, then gently stir in 10g of katsuobushi flakes.
  4. Leave for a couple of minutes then strain through a sieve.

Your dashi is now ready to use!

The Ultimate Miso Soup

The best miso soup is made by selecting about 40g of the freshest vegetables and lightly cooking them in 2 cups of dashi.  Popular choices for vegetables in Japan include daikon radish, leeks, seaweed and cabbage, but anything can be used. A few cubes of tofu can also be added. 

Once the vegetables are tender, stir in about 1 tablespoon of miso then transfer directly to a bowl. Enjoy!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Shio Koji

Shio koji is a special marinade that provides three major functions in cookery:

  • Salt consumption is reduced
  • Meat becomes more tender
  • A rich umami (savoury) flavour is produced

Reduce Your Salt Intake

Add shio koji to almost any food as an alternative to salt. If you replace one teaspoon of salt in your recipe with two teaspoons of shio koji your food will taste just as salty, but you will only be using 10% of the salt. 

A high salt diet can raise blood pressure and lead to coronary heart disease and stroke. The NHS recommend that adults should not eat more than 6g of salt a day – this is around a teaspoon. Any steps you take to reduce your salt intake is beneficial for your health. 

Meat becomes more tender

The enzymes present in shio koji have the ability to break down proteins, which makes meat more tender. Marinade any meat (chicken and white fish are especially good) overnight in a thin coating of shio koji and it will be transformed to another level!

Rich Umami Flavour

Shio koji contains protease which has the ability to transform protein into a range of amino acids. This creates a depth of savoury flavour that tastes delicious! It also contains amylase, which performs a similar function on starches; this makes carbohydrate rich food taste sweeter. To improve the flavour of dishes it is best to leave shio koji to ferment for one week before using. 

 

Shio Koji

Shio Koji is a special marinade that can reduce your salt consumption
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Ferment7 d
Total Time7 d 5 mins
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Koji, shio koji
Calories: 361kcal

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients together
  • Blend to form a smooth paste
  • Use immediately, or for a deeper flavour, leave in a clean jar at room temperature to ferment for one week. 
Posted on Leave a comment

Green Lentil Miso

Green lentil miso adds a beautiful, earthy umami flavour to dishes. It is perfect in simple soups and stews, but goes especially well with ones containing coconut milk.

Green Lentil Miso

An earthier, soya-free miso
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Ferment180 d
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: green lentils, Koji, miso
Servings: 10 50g
Calories: 71kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 packet Umami Chef Koji
  • 300 g cooked green lentils (use drained, canned lentils or cook 150g dried green lentils)

  • 35 g salt

Instructions

  • Ensure that all your equipment is very clean. Running it through a dishwasher is the easiest way to ensure cleanliness, but jars could also be placed in an oven at 90’C for 20 minutes, if a dishwasher is unavailable
  • Cool the cooked green lentils to room temperature
  • In a large bowl, mix the koji, lentils and salt
  • Massage them together for a minute or two, so the lentils release some liquid
  • Squash the mixture into a jar, trying not to leave any pockets of air
  • Wipe any stray miso from the walls of the jar
  • Sprinkle a fine layer of salt on the surface, to prevent mold from forming
  • Cut a piece of greaseproof paper or cling film to fit over the surface and then weigh down with a glass weight (a small jar filled with water that fits inside your big jar is perfect!)
  • Cover with a t-towel, to prevent flies from entering
  • Leave to ferment at room temperature for 6 months
Posted on Leave a comment

Warm Broccoli Salad with a Hazelnut and Miso Dressing

Sweet white miso (for example, 10 Day Miso) is perfect in salad dressings – it adds a depth of flavour that brings dishes to life.  I’ve chosen hazelnuts, as they’re in season at the moment, but all nuts work well in this warming autumnal salad.

Warm Broccoli and Hazelnut Salad with a maple, hazelnut and miso dressing

Warm Broccoli and Hazelnut Salad with a maple, hazelnut and miso dressing
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Fusion
Keyword: broccoli, hazelnut, Koji, maple syrup, miso, vegan
Servings: 2
Calories: 354kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/4 red cabbage chopped
  • 250 g broccoli chopped

For the dressing

  • 50 g hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp grated garlic
  • 2 tbsp sweet white miso
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

Instructions

  • Gently fry the onion until it softens.
  • Add the cabbage and broccoli to the pan and continue frying until cooked.
  • Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and whizz until smooth.
  • If you prefer the dressing to be thinner, add a little water until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Drizzle the dressing onto the salad.
Posted on 1 Comment

What is koji?

Koji is the term for a grain or bean that has been inoculated with Aspergillus Oryzae, a special fungus that has been domesticated for about 9000 years. 

White Rice Koji is made by steaming white rice and then allowing spores of Aspergillus Oryzae to germinate and multiply on it. 

This process is carefully controlled to ensure conditions are perfect for koji growth, with both temperature and humidity monitored continually. The fungus then converts starch within the rice into a range of enzymes, which go on to create the delicious range of savoury/umami flavours within foods like miso and soy sauce.

Before being packaged, the koji is gently dried to preserve it,  and it is then delivered to fermented food enthusiasts around the world!