How To Make Shio Koji 塩麹の作り方

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  • Japanese Ingredient Highlight: Shio koji (塩麹, 塩糀). A century-old natural seasoning used in Japanese cooking to marinate, tenderize, and enhance umami flavor of a dish. Learn more about this all-purpose seasoning.

    Shio Koji in glass jars.

    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 benefits in cooking, and how to make it at home.

    What is Shio Koji?

    Shio Koji in glass jars and bottole.

    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 have most likely eaten it already!

    Koji has been the key ingredient to make misosoy saucesakemirinrice vinegar, amazake, shochu, and shio koji.  It’s a live food that is rich in enzymes that break down starches and proteins in food into sugars and amino acids.

    You can use shio koji to marinade meats, make pickles, flavor your vegetables or use it as a salt substitute.  In a recipe that calls for one teaspoon of salt, you can substitute with 2 teaspoons of shio-koji.  Shio-koji is really versatile and can be used in any kind of cooking (See Shio Koji recipes)!

    Benefits of Shio Koji:

    Because it is a fermented ingredient, shio koji is known for its many health benefits, which includes (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
    • Anti-aging
    • Contains minerals, fiber and vitamins

    How to Make Shio Koji at Home

    Yes, you can make shio koji at home as it only involves a few ingredients. You can check out my quick video that demonstrates the process. For a step-by-step recipe, read on in the recipe section below. I hope you have fun making Shio Koji at home and discover more ways in flavoring your dishes with this amazing ingredient!

    Watch How to Make Shio Koji 塩麴・塩糀の作り方(レシピ)

    Video tutorial on how to make shio koji, a traditional Japanese ingredient, at home.

    4.34 from 3 votes
    Shio Koji in glass jars.
    How To Make Shio Koji
    Course: Condiments, How to
    Servings: 2 (jars)
    Author: Nami
    • 200 g rice koji (200 g = 7.05 oz)
    • 4 Tbsp sea salt (4 Tbsp = 50 g) (salt can be 10-30% of koji quantity - Do not use table salt)
    • 1 cup water
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      How To Make Shio Koji Ingredients
    2. In a large bowl, break and separate the koji grains into smaller pieces.
      How To Make Shio Koji | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    3. Rub the koji firmly in hands to separate into individual grains.
      How To Make Shio Koji 2 | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    4. Rub the koji until aromatic, add salt and mix all together.
      How To Make Shio Koji 3 | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    5. Add water. If necessary, add more water if it doesn't cover the surface of koji. Rub the koji with your hands.
      How To Make Shio Koji 4 | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    6. Transfer to sterilized jar(s)/container with a lid. Make sure the shio koji are submerged in water, if not, add more water.
      How To Make Shio Koji 6 | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    7. 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 Notes

    Koji: Majority of koji you find at stores will appear lighter in color than this brand of koji that I use, which is slightly yellow. The yellow color comes from koji mold, and some are yellow and some are brown. Depending on the brand/company, they may mix different kind of koji molds to create more complex flavor. You see more white koji in stores as they look “prettier” (source).


    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.

    Where Can We Find Rice Koji?

    Rice koji can be found in Japanese grocery stores or online.  I found the following Japanese brand in a Japanese grocery store.

    Rice Koji in a package.


    To read more about koji, please read herehere, herehere (Japanese), and here (Japanese).

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