Shio Koji – Day 6: Use It Before You Lose It

shio koji on day 6 – it’s ready!


The shio koji is ready. It’s a lovely, pleasantly salty white paste. A hand blender will break down the remaining rice bits if you want a smoother consistency. With the warm weather, the ferment time was pretty quick and it was fun to watch the shio koji transform over the week.

Now I am curious to use the shio koji in some foodstuffs. Marinating with it seems to be a natural start.

ribs slathered in shio koji

I decided to use about two tablespoons to marinate two racks of pork ribs.

I allowed the ribs sit in the shio koji overnight and bbq’ed today.

The ribs were delicious! The shio koji left the ribs flavourful and succulent. I have to say this attempt was a success. The picky family approved also.

looks good!

My friend, Yvonne, who owns Sakanaya Seafoods, suggested we try marinating the shio koji in tofu and also pickle some vegetables.

Will post the results of our continued experiments.

BYOS: Bring Your Own Sake – May 30th

may sake meetup by tangerinee
may sake meetup, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

I’m hosting a BYOS in Vancouver this Wednesday, May 30th at 7pm.

BYOS is bring your own sake. It’s a great opportunity to share sake with others and try a wide variety of nihonshu (the proper Japanese term for the drink) and meet like-minded imbibers.

The details are here:

Hope you can make it!

Shio Koji – Day 5: Uncertainty

The shio koji is looking great, I am almost thinking it might be ready. Judging from some photos I have seen of packaged products and what Kasugai-san from Keyope said to me, it could be done.

We have finally received some warm weather and that has helped to propel this ferment faster than expected.

The mash is very loose today and continues to emanate a slight sweet banana scent. The mellow salt flavour continues to evolve also.

Shio Koji – Day 4: Loosey Goosey

Change is the only constant.

Seeing this in a very small way with this shio koji mixture.

It is much looser, mushier with the rice kernels starting to become less blunt and more round, as enzymes work to break the starch down further.

The banana scent is there, but the big change is the taste: less of the harsh saltiness and a more interesting depth is evident (Hello Umami). There is even a hint of sweetness surfacing.

I am starting to understand how this paste could be a great salt replacement.

Shio Koji – Day 3: Break it down

A definite change in the shio koji mixture today. Fermentation is starting to occur, and the breaking down of rice is evident.

It has become a mash, definitely more watery than yesterday. Still it is pretty eye-poppingly salty.

I’m happy to see something is happening. I suspect with the warmer weather, the shio koji will be done in less than a week.

The smell is changing a bit, less chestnuts and more bananas.

Shio Koji – Day 2: Goopy

The koji and salt have sopped up all the water and the mixture looks rather thick and inert. The smells are wonderful though, and certainly lively.

Koji has a quintessential chestnut scent and I can definitely smell that lovely fragrance coming out of the jar.

I used the mason lid to cover the mixture, but am not going to use the ring to tighten.
Some people say you can just use a paper towel to cover your container too–just something to limit the bacteria or dust that may fall into the jar.

Making Shio Koji – Day 1

Shio koji. Shio koji. Shio koji. Try saying that fast three times.I have been hearing about this wondrous concoction called shio koji, a flavour enhancer that imbues a salty equivalent to regular old salt with half the actual salt content. Shio koji is also rich in enzymes which aid in digestion and are good for overall health.  In Japan, people use shio koji to marinate meats, salt tofu, pickle vegetables, in salad dressings and even in some desserts. It is a condiment of yore, used in the old days to preserve and marinate foods, but a renaissance is taking place with a new generation beguiled by the old standby’s modern usages.

I was indeed curious about shio koji due mainly to my love of sake. The main ingredient in shio koji is koji, which is also used extensively in sake-making. Koji is steamed rice that has been inoculated with aspergillus oryzae. This mold creates an enzymatic process which converts the rice starch into useable sugar. Essentially a form of malting, the rice surface becomes speckled with sugar and possesses aromatics reminiscent of sweet chestnuts.

Adding salt (aka shio) to the koji and letting it sit in room temperature for about 7-14 days (make sure to mix well each day) breaks it down further, producing a briny fermented paste. This condiment can be kept in the fridge for a week and used in recipes as a healthier replacement for salt.

So it seems the permutations with koji are endless—not only is it utilized in the manufacturing

of sake,  shochu, miso, mirin, amazake, and  soy sauce, we can add shio koji to the list. Are you interested to see how umami-enhancing shio koji is?

I sure am.

Let’s find out. I am going to make some, thanks to a gift of fresh koji from local sake brewery, Keyope, in Richmond.

This is the recipe as provided to me by Toji (master brewer) Yoshiaki Kasugai at Keyope:


Shio Koji Recipe

200 g                koji

200 – 300 cc    water  (I used just over 1 C)

60 g                  salt


Mix koji with salt. Use your hands to rub the ingredients together.

This helps to separate the koji which might be stuck together.

Once combined, place in a non-metal container. (I used a mason jar.)

Pour water into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Leave the container in room temperature for 7-14 days (shorter if warmer out; longer if cold) and remember to mix well once each day. Keep it loosely covered, as the mixture is fermenting and can explode from gas build up if covered too tightly.


Here’s what it looks like newly combined. It is salty as heck! The weather is pretty warm these days so I anticipate it will be done rather quickly.

I will post pix of what it looks like each day.