So, what's Shio Koji? Up until a few months ago, I had never heard of many of these very traditional Japanese flavorings, all made with a homemade Koji which is a type of fungus used to brew sake, miso and soy sauce. Think of it as a starter yeast - like those used in Sourdough bread. You've probably heard of starters that get passed on from generation to generation and have been treasured by families who keep their starter going...never able to repeat the flavorings that have been passed down because the yeast they started with evolved over time. That's the jist of what this is. I was turned on to a wonderful Japanese woman by the name of Mariko (which coincidentally is my middle name) who makes wonderful Japanese products in her home here in the Bay Area. With 3 kids, it's kinda impossible to make my own Koji at home so I purchase products from Mariko and get to benefit from all her hard work and expertise. This is the description of her Shio Koji: Shio Koji is a very popular and chic product among the Japanese, creating a fad scene in the culinary industry. Made from mineral water, sea salt, and homemade koji after long fermentation. It enhances the savoriness of food itself as sharpens the sweet and salt tastes of food. This product helps busy households because it takes only a spoon of Shio Koji to provide a fancy taste for an everyday dish!
I describe it as a super delicious flavoring - kinda in between a miso marinade and mildly sweet salad dressing. I recently used it to marinate cod, which I then broiled until just done. It tenderized the fish and left it melting in my mouth. I served it with a side of pan-fried kale that I mistakenly left in the pan too long and came out with something crazy good. The kale kinda fried on the bottom so when I put it on the plate, it had all of these crispy bits in it, like fried kale chips, which made it crunchy and super yum. I drizzled a little bit of yuzu salad dressing (found at most Asian markets) over the top of the kale with some sliced avocado on top and it was the perfect side dish to the cod. The husband and kids loved it so it was a sure winner!
My contact for purchasing Shio Koji isn't available anymore so now I'm in a pickle. If anyone knows where to purchase it online, let me know. Here's another interesting article on Koji and it's uses.