Wake up your appetite with this sweet & savory Pickled Daikon with Shio Koji! Also known as tsukemono, this Japanese pickle makes a refreshing side to accompany any Japanese meal. It’s super easy and requires minimal ingredients and hands-on time.
In today’s topic, let’s learn about Shiokojizuke (塩麹漬け), a Japanese pickling method using salt koji mold (shio koji). It is one of the easiest types of Japanese pickles known collectively as tsukemono (漬物).
You can pickle all sorts of vegetables with this technique, but since daikon is available year-round, I’ll show you how to make Pickled Daikon with Shio Koji (大根の塩麹漬け).
Tsukemono – Japanese Pickles
Japanese pickles are called Tsukemono. Before we start, if you’re interested in learning more, read Tsukemono: A Guide to Japanese Pickles on my blog.
Tsukemono has several types based on the pickling agent:
- Shiozuke (塩漬け) – salt
- Suzuke (酢漬け) – vinegar
- Amazuzuke (甘酢漬け) – sugar and vinegar
- Misozuke (味噌漬け) – miso
- Shoyuzuke (醤油漬け) – soy sauce
- Kasuzuke (粕漬け) – sake kasu (lees)
- Shiokojizuke (塩麹漬け) – rice koji/mold-cultured rice
- Nukazuke (糠漬け) – nuka (rice bran)
- Karashizuke (からし漬け) – Japanese hot mustard karashi
- Satozuke (砂糖漬け) – sugar
I’ve shared the highlighted pickling methods above in the series, but we’ll focus on Shiokojizuke (salt koji pickling) today.
What’s Shio Koji?
Shio koji (塩麹, 塩糀) or salt koji is a natural seasoning, which is used to marinate, tenderize, and enhance the umami in foods. It’s made of just a few simple ingredients: salt, water, and rice koji.
Because koji (koji mold spores) is a live food that is rich in enzymes, and we need enzymes to break down starches and proteins in food (such as daikon in this recipe) into sugars and amino acids respectively. This process makes the food naturally sweet, aromatic, and rich in umami.
Health 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 for digestion
- Clear the skin
- Contains minerals, fiber, and vitamins
Where to Get Shio Koji
You can make Shio Koji from scratch if you can find koji at a Japanese grocery store and have the patience to make it.
I purchase my favorite Hikari Miso Shio Koji at my local Japanese grocery store (Nijiya Market). You can find it at Japanese grocery stores and a big Korean grocery chain like H-Mart. Check at the condiment section or refrigerated section of the store.
Also, you can purchase it on Amazon.
When you open the bottle, you will immediately notice the sweet smell that reminds you of sake. With the help of all-natural koji, you will notice the significant flavor boost in your daily cooking!
How to Use Shio Koji
You can use shio koji to marinate your meats and vegetables, make pickles, or use it as a salt substitute. Shio koji is REALLY versatile and I’ve used it to make some delicious recipes on Just One Cookbook.
If you’re not sure, start using shio koji to replace salt. In a recipe that calls for one teaspoon of salt, you can substitute with two teaspoons of Shio Koji. You will not only get the “salt” effect but also experience the “umami bomb” effect!
3 Steps to Pickle Daikon with Shio Koji
Hands-on time for this recipe is very minimal. I usually make this recipe while I am preparing for dinner and have some time in the kitchen. Here are the 3 easy steps:
- Step 1: Remove moisture from daikon – Soak daikon in saltwater overnight.
- Step 2: Make shio koji mixture – Make a flavorful shio koji mixture.
- Step 3: Pickle daikon – Put the daikon in the mixture for several hours up to 2 days.
See the recipe below for detailed instructions.
The pickled daikon makes an ideal accompaniment when you serve rice and miso soup. It’s a palate cleanser and you only need 2-3 slices for each person. Serve them on a tiny plate (mame-zara), or on a medium plate where people can take as much as they like.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Pickled Daikon with Shio Koji
Shio Koji Mixture
- ½ cup shio koji
- ¼ cup sugar (4 Tbsp)
- 1 piece kombu (dried kelp) (6 g; 3”x3”, 8 x 8cm)
- 1 dried red chili pepper
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Combine 1 cup water and 1 Tbsp salt and mix well. Peel daikon.
- Cut the daikon in half widthwise and half in lengthwise. If your daikon is thinner, you may just cut in half widthwise.
- Put the daikon in a resealable plastic bag and add saltwater. Remove air and seal tightly. Daikon has strong-smelling sulfur compounds and it gets quite smelly. If you decide not to use a resealable plastic bag, you will need a large airtight container such as a big jar that can include daikon, saltwater, and heavy objects on top of the daikon.
- Put the bag in a tray to avoid any leakage and put a heavy object on top of the bag. Here I put a plate (to evenly distribute the weight) and pie weights. Set aside at room temperature overnight.
- To make Shio Koji Mixture, combine ½ cup shio koji and ¼ cup sugar in a 1-cup measuring cup (or bowl). Cut off the end of red chili pepper with a knife or a pair of scissors.
- Take out and discard the seeds (typically, the Japanese do not include seeds and use just the pod for mild spiciness). Cut the red chili pepper into small rounds and add to the mixture.
- Cut the kombu into thin strips and add to the mixture. Mix all together. Set aside.
- Remove the heavy objects, and take out the daikon. Discard the salt water.
- Wipe off the moisture on the daikon with a paper towel.
- In an airtight container that fits the daikon, pour half of your Shio Koji Mixture on the bottom of the container. Put the daikon on top.
- Add and distribute the rest of the mixture. Put the lid on and keep at the room temperature for 2-3 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
When to Stop Pickling
- You can start eating from the day you add Shio Koji Mixture. It’s up to you when you want to stop pickling. You can take out all the daikon after 1 day, for example. As time passes, moisture comes out more form the daikon and it gets slimy from kombu. When the daikon is pickled enough (to your liking), take them out and transfer to another airtight container to keep for a week or two. I usually take out and eat one daikon each day and finish all of it by the 3rd day.
- If you prefer to serve pickled daikon without koji (grain), you can quickly rinse under running water. Cut the daikon into ¼ inch (6 mm) slices and enjoy!
- After taking out the pickled daikon from the mixture, you can keep it for up to 3-4 weeks.