I started a new project. Being in Noma actually made me feel really close to and interesting topic – i always being overcrazy for any sort of fermentations, but now i met face to face with KOJI and after the first sniff i realized i want more. And more. And even more.
So much to discover – already read a couple of great books in this topic- still i think its a big endless rabbit hole – all the possibilities what we can create with koji in the field of gastronomy just like stars in the sky.
I dont really want to get back to the basics what koji is – you can find billions and billions of articles and posts about it online – ASPERGILLUS ORYZAE – read some basic stuff so that you can get a deeper picture what i will planning to play with. To tell you in a very short way – i decided to start some experiments (lead by my weird brain cells) to see the limitations of growing this mold in all sorts of other food stuff and see what i can or cannot reach flavour and texture – wise. Basically looking for new things what nobody has ever written down – yet.
Lots of experiements been shared already with this spores (thanks GOD) – so i dont see the point to repeat the same stuff again and again – so i will skip the obvious things – as how to grow koji on rice (great experience btw). Only thing i would share is the mistake/mistakes i made – good to be aware so it wont happen again.
I bought a quite cool fermentation chamber – a small box to proof bread, culture yoghurt or make a cosy fermentation bed to grow any sort of funky spores. Very very cool and also you can fold it into itself so easy to transport. Very happy with it so far – im still working on to control humidity in a more precise way – right now im just using tray of water for evaporation.
Pretty excited times’. :))) My first mistake was not to cut tiny holes on the bottom of my koji plastic trays – and i was not ‘stirring them’ in every 12 hours – only because i was thinking moving the rice is necessary only if your layer is too thick to incubate (higher than 3cm). The result was some oxidation on the bottom (turning to orange color). Also i forgot to top up my water tray after the 3rd day – so just before the spores finished to develop fully – i managed to start a slow dehydration proccess. Was not an unforgivable mistake – as i was working on amazake and shio koji at the beginning anyway (which means rehydration again).
Most of the fermentation proccesses are a bit time consuming – i decided to stick with only the ‘short’ ones like – amazake and shio koji – as my internship was getting closer to the end and i was not sure how the airport’people would take my intention trying to hold on to a couple of giant weird bubbly miso-starter lookalike jars in the cabin area. I will deal with those later when i get back home and having plenty of time to do it properly.
Shio Koji. Salted koji rice water – 1:1 and 5% salt. Just mix one part of your freshly grown koji rice with same amount of water and measure the 5%of the whole weight and add by salt- example you got 100g koji rice, add 100g water and u have 200g total weight so you add 10g of salt which is the 5% of the 200. Easy.
If you do blend it you will end up having a ‘white rapid soy sauce’. Much enjoyment to season with this (anything from soups to scrumbled egg or risotto)- anything anytime and it only takes a week time in room temperature to be honest.
Amazake – sweet and sour version. Brilliant – but you really need to keep your eye on the timing very very much.
I keep forgetting the incubation time for a sweet amazake – cause koji can reach up 4 days in total but the temperature is only between 26-32 celcius (depending if we focus on higher protease or amylase production) while in the case of amazake the temperature is between 55-60 celcius but only for 10-14 hours. I made the same mistake for several times to leave my amazake for at least a day incubation when i realized i went to far. Again and again. – this doesnt mean i had to throw away that batch – only means it went too sour for my ‘plans’ (like making sorbet) so i had to face with a bit more acidic breakfast porridge for a couple of days (was cheating with a spoonful of sweet berry jam LOL).
I was aiming for a very dream-sweet amazake at first – using white rice and white rice koji 1:1 with 2 parts of water. After 12 hours it was just like heaven. Like an umami enhanced rice pudding (withour adding a single crystal of sugar). After i tried the same thing using barley koji with white rice and the water. Turn out a touch more acidic – looks like the ‘real sake sweetness’ does come from the rice grain itself. The sour version was also a great success.
I used the 1part koji rice and 1 part rice with 4 parts of water. Same thing, let it ferment in the chamber for 12-14 hours at 60 degrees then strain the grains (and enjoy them for breakfast) – and let the ‘water’ sit in your jar in the cupboard at room temperature for a week. After that week place it in the fridge and let it sit for another week before you try. The result was ‘pure clear sour ‘apple rice-cider”. Very stupidly delicious – without any alcohol content.
Having a dinner party in that night i actually made a great cocktail out – 50g sour amazake juice & 20g vanilla vodka & icecube. NomnomNomNom. Yes.
I had an attempt to make alcoholic amazake – but i faced with serious difficulties finding sake kasu what they usually use to create this alcoholic version. To get that special stuff you have to order it online or better moving next to an actively working sake factory. Such a great plan!!! Sake kasu or sake lees is a fermented alcoholic rice puree – leftover product of the sake rice wine making. Super delicious. But pretty unique – at least outside of Japan… but i tell you this story in the next chapter…