Shio Koji is being tooted as the new cooking ingredient. Some people are going as far as to say it’s the new soy sauce or MSG. Professional and home cooks are flocking to it and grabbing it off the shelves in Japan and US alike. There’s blogs devoted to it and cooking classes centered around teaching people how to use it. And despite its foul smell, it’s not hard to see why.
Shio Koji is a mixture of fermented rice, salt, the bacteria Aspergillus oryzae, and water. Although it has just recently hit the markets, it’s secret component, A.oryzae, has a long history that goes back to the 300BCE in China and Japan. In Japan, it’s one of the basic ingredients to make miso, sake, mirin, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Its popularity comes from its ability to cultivate flavor in foods and its power of umami. It adds a slight meatiness and sweetness to the existing flavor of foods; not overpowering, but enhancing the natural flavor of anything you add it to.
Most of all, it’s healthy. Just like yogurt, shio koji includes lactic acid, which aids digestion and helps with intestinal disorders. It also increases the amount of vitamin B1, B2, B6, H and Pateton acid in foods, which helps to fight fatigue. For those worried about blood pressure or bloat, substituting shio koji for salt will give you the same salty flavor with 50% less salt content.
When you buy it packaged or in a jar, it looks a little bit like watered-down porridge. It smells like… feet. My advice? Just don’t smell it! It’s extremely versatile and tasty in cooking. My friends and family in Japan have used it for pickles, salad dressings, marinade, stir fry, and much more. I’ll be posting recipes here as I perfect them!
Here’s the first and the easiest: Shio Koji as salt. For each 1 part salt substitute 2 parts shio koji. (1 teaspoon salt = 2 teaspoons shio koji).
Have you used shio koji? What are your favorite ways to use it?