When a very well-respected Bay Area chef asks you to look into carrying a product he loves, you pay attention, even when it takes you out of your comfort zone. But in the case of Liquid Shio Koji, we believe the product is interesting and unique enough to offer it to you. The manufacturer, Hanamaruki Foods, was established in 1918 and has grown to have the second biggest market share of miso in Japan. They are a large food company - not someplace we’d normally go looking for ingredients.
To understand this product, you have to know a little about koji. Japanese cuisine relies heavily on fermented foods - everything from miso to soy sauce to sake is fermented. The beneficial bacteria that is used to make these fermented foods is Aspergillus oryzae. It’s importance to Japanese food can’t be understated…it really is Japan’s national fungus. The way the Japanese employ Aspergillus oryzae is to inoculate rice with it. This inoculated rice is called koji.
One application of koji is shio koji, a traditional Japanese ingredient used to marinate, tenderize and increase the umami of meats. To make shio koji, you take inoculated rice (i.e. koji) and then add water and salt. Shio koji kind of looks like a porridge. One downside of shio koji is that after marinating meat in it, you need to brush off the rice grains because they can burn easily when cooked. What Hanamaruki has done is make shio koji, place it in sake bags and then press it. This leaves them with just the liquid, which contains all of the enzymes that make shio koji so wonderful.
You can use Liquid Shio Koji as a marinade or to add flavor to broths or the fillings of dumplings or…there are so many uses. To marinate a protein, just add 10% of the weight of the protein in Liquid Shio Koji - in other words 100 grams of meat requires 10 grams of Liquid Shio Koji. To learn more about Liquid Shio Koji, please click here.