With Shio Koji, a natural seasoning used in Japanese cooking, you can make EASY & DELICIOUS Shio Koji Chicken in no time with just 4 ingredients!
Sometimes a simple ingredient or condiment is all it takes to lend a magical touch on a dish. Garlic, ginger, miso, yuzu kosho, and sriracha are just some fantastic examples. And if you haven’t heard of Shio Koji, allow me to introduce this seasoning to you today. I’ve pulled off an incredibly amazing Shio Koji Chicken (塩麹チキン) that takes only 4 ingredients to make.
All thanks to Shio Koji, I get an umami-packed delicious chicken on the table with minimal effort. It is that WOW! You will want to have it in your pantry at all time too.
What is Shio Koji?
Shio Koji (塩麹, 塩糀) is a natural seasoning that we use to marinate, tenderize, and enhance the umami in foods. It’s made of just a few simple ingredients: salt, water, and rice koji.
One of Shio Koji’s ingredient, rice koji, or Kome Koji (米こうじ, 米糀, 米麹) in Japanese, is steamed rice that has been treated with koji mold spores (Aspergillus oryzae, koji-kin 麹菌, or koji starter).
Koji – Mold that You’ve Eaten Before
Koji is a specific strain of mold that has been cultured over the centuries. You may feel hesitant reading all about mold and wonder why we make rice moldy on purpose. But guess what, you have most likely eaten it already!
Why do we use koji in cooking? Because it’s a live food that is rich in enzymes. And we need enzymes to break down starches and proteins in food into sugars and amino acids. 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
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 2 teaspoons of Shio Koji. You will not only get the “salt” effect but also experience the “umami bomb” effect!
Get a Bottle of Shio Koji and Start Cooking!
After sharing several recipes that require rice koji, I learned from readers that it’s actually a lot easier to get Shio Koji from Hikari Miso®. It’s available in Japanese grocery stores and Amazon as well as a big Korean grocery chain, H-Mart. Unlike Japanese grocery stores, this Korean grocery chain has many locations throughout North America. You may find it on the shelf or refrigerated section of the store.
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!
Craving for More Shio Koji Recipes?
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Shio Koji Chicken
- 8 pieces boneless, skin-on chicken thighs (ask the butcher to remove bones from bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and they may ask you if you want to keep the bones to make soup stock)
- 1 cup shio koji
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- freshly ground black pepper
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Combine shio koji and soy sauce in a bowl or measuring cup.
- Season both sides of the chicken thighs with freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour the shio koji mixture and coat the chicken well on both sides. Cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (minimum) to 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). Remove the shio koji as much as possible and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- If your oven doesn't come with the temperature probe, you can use a ThermoWorks Chef Alarm. Insert the stem of the probe into the thickest part of the chicken, or in the center of the chicken if it is even in thickness.
- Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches to 165ºF (74ºC), roughly 25 minutes.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, change the oven setting from Bake to Broil. Broil the chicken until the skin has nice char, about 3-5 minutes (depends on how far the chicken is from the heat source). Remove from the oven.
- Cut the chicken thigh into 4 pieces (if you eat with chopsticks) and serve immediately.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for 2-3 months.