It’s been several years since Shio Koji (塩麹, 塩糀) experienced a huge resurgence in popularity as a versatile seasoning in Japan. This page is about shio koji, its benefit in cooking, and how to make it at home.
Shio koji (塩麹, 塩糀) is a natural seasoning used to marinate, tenderize, and enhance the umami, or richness (one of the five basic tastes), in foods. It’s made of just a few simple ingredients, salt, water and rice koji.
Rice koji (米こうじ, 米糀, 米麹) is steamed rice that has been treated with koji mold spores (Aspergillus oryzae, koji-kin 麹菌, or koji starter). Koji is a specific strain of mold that has been cultured over the centuries.
You may feel hesitant to eat it and wonder why we make rice moldy on purpose. But you know what, you have most likely eaten it already!
Koji has been the key ingredient to make miso, soy sauce, sake, mirin, rice vinegar, amazake, shochu, and shio koji. It’s a live food that is rich in enzymes that break down the starches and proteins in food into sugars and amino acids.
Use shio koji to marinade meats, make pickles, or just use as a salt substitute. For each teaspoon of salt called for in a recipe, use 2 teaspoons of shio-koji. Shio-koji is really versatile and can be used in any kind of cooking (See Shio Koji recipes)!
There are some benefits of using shio koji in cooking (source).
- A natural pro-biotic seasoning
- Tenderizes food
- Brings out the umami and sweetness in foods
- Reduces the intake of salt
- Aids in digestion
- Clear the skin
- Contains minerals, fiber and vitamins
Check out this quick video as well – you will see why it’s so easy to make!
And this is a step-by-step recipe to make make shio koji at home.
- 200 g (7.05 oz) rice koji
- 4 Tbsp. (50 g) sea salt (salt can be 10-30% of koji quantity - Do not use table salt.)
- 1 cup good water
- In a large bowl, break and separate the koji grains into smaller pieces.
- Rub the koji firmly in hands to separate into individual grains.
- Rub the koji until aromatic, add salt and mix all together.
- Add water. If necessary, add more water if it doesn't cover the surface of koji. Rub the koji with your hands.
- Transfer to sterilized jar(s)/container with a lid. Make sure the shio koji are submerged in water, if not, add more water.
- Ferment the shio koji at room temperature, mix it once a day for 1 week during summers and 2 weeks during winters (as warmth temperature speeds up the ripening process). Add a bit of water if the shio koji is too hard. It might taste salty at the beginning, but it will gradually become mild. Shio Koji will become thicker and begin to smell sweet from the fermentation. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.
Rice koji can be found in Japanese grocery stores or online. I found the following Japanese brand in a Japanese grocery store.
Don’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates. Thank you so much for reading, and till next time!