Shio Koji: How to Use This Fermented Japanese Cooking Staple

Shio Koji: How to Use This Fermented Japanese Cooking Staple

Japan has some of the most delicious and unique seasonings, spices, and flavors. It has helped propel Japanese food into a globally recognized cuisine. Shio koji is one of the very food items that has aided this type of cuisine in establishing its distinct flavor.

If you’ve never heard of koji grains (the main ingredient in shio koji), you may be surprised that it helps create miso, soy sauce, sake, and other fermented foods and condiments. Below, you can learn about shio koji and start using it to marinate meat and help flavor your Japanese-inspired recipes.

What Is Shio Koji?

Shio koji, aka salt koji, is a moldy, fermented grain paste that adds flavor to many dishes. It’s common to see chefs smear shio koji on different types of meat, seafood, and vegetables as a marinade. The shio koji taste is savory, with a slightly sweet flavor and fruity scent.

This marinade appears like a thick porridge and helps tenderize meat and seafood due to enzymes in the shio koji. These enzymes help break down the grains, creating a sweet, umami flavor. Each time you use this delicious marinade, you’re left with juicy, tender meat and flavorful veggies.
You can also use shio koji to help flavor everything from sauces to baked goods, dressings, and more.

What Is Shio Koji Made Of?

This condiment is made with koji (a type of mold), rice grains (or another grain variety), water, and salt to create a delicious umami flavor. Other types of koji incorporate other grains or ingredients like barley koji, soybean koji, and even shoyu koji (soy sauce koji).

Each type of koji has a specific purpose, with some options taking longer to ferment than others. For example, light rice koji ferments quickly (in under one month), offering a delicious, sweet flavor to sake and amazake (a sweet Japanese drink).

How to Make Shio Koji: A Shio Koji Recipe

If you want to start making shio koji at home, you’ll only need a few ingredients. Here’s how to make homemade shio koji. You’ll need; rice koji (steamed rice that has already gone through a koji fermentation process), salt, mineral water, and a glass container.

Take your koji rice and salt and add them to your glass container. Mix well, then add the water. Close the container tightly, shake, and allow to ferment for 5-7 days. After that, your koji is ready to use!

Does Shio Koji Need to Be Refrigerated?

It depends on how long you’re planning to keep your shio koji. If you plan to use it the same day, you can leave it out of the fridge for 24 hours. Otherwise, shio koji stays good in the refrigerator for one week. You can also freeze shio koji for up to six months to extend its life.

You're in luck if you don't want to make your own shio koji! Our July 2022 box includes a recipe (and shio koji Japanese fried chicken powder). This delightful powder helps make crispy, juicy fried chicken with an umami-rich taste in no time.

Keep your eyes peeled for the special ingredients found in each Wa-Gokoro box; we love introducing Japanese culinary staples to you during your monthly shipment. Recipe cards help guide you through using each ingredient, so you’ll have a delicious meal every time. Our ingredients are perfect for new home chefs, professional chefs who want to learn more about Japanese cuisine, and everyone in between!

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