BY JOSH DORCAK — Koji rice is an ingredient we use at MÄS to enhance the flavors in food. The koji rice we make is a pillowy white fungus that grows on the rice from the Aspergillus Oryzae spore. This process takes three days and two nights under carefully monitored conditions in our incubation chamber.
When koji rice is added to foods, usually with some salt, it will jumpstart enzymatic reactions that over time result in powerful savory flavor. Koji is essential in the production of Sake, Miso, Mirin, Shochu, and Rice vinegar and has been used for thousands of years in China and Japan.
Koji will Also grow on starchy foods other than rice, and there are different strains of Aspergillus that will even grow on meat for long term curing and fermentation.Developing our use of koji with new food combinations can help us create flavors that are unique to our process.
Most recently we received sweet corn seed from Blue Fox Farm. Considering the starch content in a kernel of corn, we thought it should work. The corn has been in the incubation chamber for one and a half days and the white pillowy mold is starting to coat the kernels of corn. This will lend itself to seasoning butter we can use to blanket the corn.
Another avenue is corn miso, this should be very interesting as a sweet miso. Corn amazake could be turned into a funky sweet corn pudding for savory or sweet dessert application. All around koji is an amazing ingredient. My personal favorite quality about the spore is that it lends itself to additional flavor, it’s the 'what is this taste?’