Kinzanji Miso

Kinzanji miso is different to most other misos in that it is not used as a seasoning, but is designed to be eaten as a side dish. It is made by fermenting vegetables with koji to create a dish that is sweet and sour – the perfect accompaniment to most Japanese dishes.  It is also frequently used as the Japanese equivalent of sofrito or mirepoix – saving the time needed to fry the vegetables used in the base of dishes.

Very little information about kinzanji miso is available in English, so I’ve researched Japanese texts to discover everything I can about this dish.

Traditionally kinzanji miso is made using a combination of three kojis – rice, soy and barley – all in equal proportions. The other ingredients are harder to tie down – it’s the sort of dish where every family seem to have their own version. The common themes are that they have 6% salt (5.8% according to the Standard Food Composition Table of Japan) and an equal amount of sugar. Most recipes also call for double this percentage in honey, although if you’re not a fan of sweet dishes, or looking to create a vegan version, this can be left out.

Another ingredient that is in almost all versions is ginger, although the amount varies wildly – some contain a tablespoon, whilst one recipe I found had 1.5Kg of ginger in a 7kg recipe! In the recipe below I’ve used a more moderate amount of ginger, but feel free to increase this if you’re a big ginger fan.

The vegetables used also vary – aubergine, daikon radish, courgettes, melons, burdock root, shiso leaves and various seaweeds are the most commonly mentioned, but modern recipes also tend to include carrots, peppers and garlic.

Some recipes also called for the addition of sake, mirin or soy sauce, but mostly in very small amounts. I’ve chosen to leave these out as they didn’t appear in the older recipes I found; but feel free to experiment by adding them to your dishes.

Note: I’m unable to eat soy or wheat so have created a recipe to avoid these ingredients. If you’re looking to make a traditional version, replace the rice koji and beans in the recipe below with a mix of rice koji, soy koji and barley koji.

Kinzanji Miso

Kinzanji miso is different to most other misos in that it is not used as a seasoning, but is designed to be eaten as a side dish. It is made by fermenting vegetables with koji to create a dish that is sweet and sour – the perfect accompaniment to most Japanese dishes.
Prep Time20 minutes
Fermentation Time30 days
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: fermented, Koji, miso
Servings: 24
Cost: £10


  • 1 Steamer optional
  • 1 jar


  • 1 packet Umami Chef Rice Koji (200g) For authentic kinzanji miso replace the koji rice and cannellini beans in this recipe with 400g of mixed rice, soy and barley koji)
  • 60 g salt
  • 60 g sugar
  • 100 g honey
  • 150 g aubergine cubed and steamed
  • 100 g courgette cubed
  • 150 g carrot cubed
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced/grated
  • 200 g cannellini beans cooked


  • Mix all the ingredients together, then pack into a jar.
  • Over the next few hours the vegetables will begin to release moisture, press the vegetables down until this liquid covers all the ingredients.
  • You now have a choice. You can either place a weight on top of the mixture, to keep all the ingredients submerged. Or you can stir it once a day, to prevent mold growth on the surface.
  • Cover with a cloth to prevent insects from entering. Then leave the miso at room temperature to ferment. In a hot room/airing cupboard (25'C) this might be as little as 3 weeks. In a colder room (15'C) this might be 8 weeks. It is edible throughout, so just taste and when you like it place in the fridge to stop the fermentation. Enjoy!



Note: I’m unable to eat soy or wheat so have created a recipe to avoid these ingredients. If you’re looking to make a traditional version, replace the rice koji and beans in the recipe with a mix of rice koji, soy koji and barley koji.

Koji Beer

Koji Ber

Koji beer is a fusion of east and western styles of beer. Sake is generally called a rice wine but it is in fact more like a beer than wine. It is made using rice and top quality koji and this formed the “Eastern” element of the brew. When making sake, only rice and koji are used and a special yeast which can reach the 18-20% ABV levels in sake (although it is often diluted down to 15% when sold commercially).

The Western part of the brew was a mash made using extra pale malted barley and flavoured with Saaz hops (which are used in European beers like Hoegaarden). These two elements were blended together and fermented using an American yeast which gives a crisp finish. This is a truly international beer!

The final ABV of the beer was 7.8% which places it fairly well up the normal beer ABV range of 3 to 9%. It fermented most of the sugars out to give a fairly dry finish similar to traditional ciders but without the astringency. This is a very different tasting beer and one which goes well with dishes made using koji.


Koji Beer

A beer made using koji rice, giving a dry, sour characteristic to the beer
Course: Drinks
Keyword: beer


  • 1 kg flaked rice
  • 400 g Umami Chef koji
  • 2 kg Simpsons Extra Pale Malt
  • 1 SafAle US05 Yeast
  • Saaz leaf


Rice Preparation

  • Wash the rice and then add at least 2 litres of water.
  • Leave to soak in a fridge overnight.
  • Rinse and then boil for 20 minutes.
  • Drain the rice and then leave it to cool.

Koji Fermentation

  • Add the rice and the koji to the nylon bag. Place the tied nylon bag into a 3 gallon fermentation vessel.
  • Cover with 3 litres of cooled, boiled water.
  • Place a lid with an airlock on top and leave at room temperature (21'C) for 4 days.
  • Filter the rice from the liquor.


  • Make the beer with 2kg of Simpsons extra pale malt and saaz hops in a kettle ready mash at 66'C. 25g of saaz leaf is used as a bittering hop, boiling for 60 minutes. Add a further 15g with 15 minutes to go and 10g with 5 minutes to go. (Note: The initial gravity of this wort was 1055.)
  • Add the liquor from the koji (3.3 litres) (Note: The initial gravity of the koji liquor was 1072 and when combined it was 1063) Giving a total volume of about 11 - 12 litres
  • Add SafAle US05 Yeast and fit a lid with fermentation lock.
  • Leave to fermet out, about 5 days. (Note: Final gravity 1004 - giving 7.8% ABV)
  • Rack off the beer and add 60g priming sugar before bottling.
  • Leave to condition for 10 weeks.

Shoyu Koji

Shoyu koji is made by mixing soy sauce with koji. This means it combines the flavour of soy sauce with the power of koji. Use it in place of soy sauce in any recipe for an extra depth of savoury flavour.

The real power of shoyu koji comes when you use it as a marinade – coating food for a few hours/overnight so the koji can perform it’s magic.

If you use it in a marinade:

  • Carbohydrates (like rice or potatoes) will become sweeter
  • Proteins (like beans or meat) will be broken down into delicious amino acids – which are especially beneficial for our nutrition.
  • Meat will become more tender

It is really simple to make – just mix koji and soy sauce together, then leave at room temperature for 7 days.

If you can’t wait then it is perfectly safe to eat it before the 7 days are up, it just won’t have reached maximum deliciousness!

Shoyu Koji

Use shoyu koji instead of soy sauce in any recipe to add a greater depth of flavour.
Prep Time5 minutes
7 days
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Koji, Soy Sauce


  • 100 g koji
  • 200 ml soy sauce
  • 100 ml water boiled, then cooled to room temperature


  • Mix the ingredients together in a jar
  • Place a lid on the jar and leave to ferment at room temperature for 7 days.
  • After 7 days it is ready! At this stage you can either blend it until smooth or sieve to remove the rice. Use instead of soy sauce, to add a rich umami flavour to any dish. Transfer to a fridge, where it can be stored for at least a month.


Note: The photos in the recipe instructions are using Fava Bean and Toasted Rice Shoyu,  instead of soy sauce. This is much lighter in colour than the traditional Shoyu koji (main post photo) and has the added benefit of being gluten/soy free.
Shoyu koji made from fava bean and toasted rice shoyu is also clear, when filtered from the rice at the end. This means it can be used to add a real depth of flavour to clear liquids, without altering the clarity.


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


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 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Ferment7 days
Total Time7 days 5 minutes
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Koji, shio koji
Servings: 4
Calories: 361kcal


  • Blender



  • 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. 


How to make Shio Koji

What is koji?

White rice 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!