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Tag Archives: shio-koji

Osechi-Ryori Completed!

osechi

After much preparation we finally finished making all of the dishes that we wanted to have in our osechi-ryori.

This year we made kobumaki (carrot, fried tofu, and burdock root wrapped in kelp), kuromame (black soybeans simmered in a sweet and savory sauce made from soy sauce and sugar), shio-koji Tai (red snapper marinated in shio-koji), dattemake (a sweet Japanese rolled omelet made with fish cake and egg), chikuzen-ni (assorted vegetables braised in a sweet and savory stock), namasu (shredded daikon and carrot in a sweet and sour vinegar sauce), tataki gobo (burdock root with sesame sauce), o-zoni (a soup made with stock taken from bonito and kelp) and kuri-kinton (sweet potato and chestnut dessert).

Over the next few days I will be sharing the recipes for these tasty dishes!

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Where to buy Ready-Made Shio-koji

Shio-koji can be used to naturally enhance flavors in food and it is very simple to use in cooking.  Its health benefits include aiding in digestion and replenishing good bacteria in the intestines.  Shio-koji is also very simple to make at home.  The brand Cold Mountain, which also sells products like miso, is probably the most common brand of Koji found in the United States.  Once you have gotten your hands on koji the rest is easy, all you need now is water and salt!  The only thing is that although shio-koji is very easy to make, it does need time.  It requires about 10 days depending on room temperature.  So when you don’t have time to wait, your other option is to buy ready-made shio-koji.

I thought that ready-made shio-koji could only be found in Japan but just recently I saw a few different brands being sold at Sunrise Supermarket in the East Village.  Cold Mountain is one of the brands that sells a ready-made shio-koji “sauce” and there were some other Japanese brands of ready-made shio-koji as well.  I was surprised by how easy it is getting to find shio-koji in New York now.  I also noticed that many restaurants are starting to incorporate it in their menu as well.

Sunrise Supermarket is located on 4 Stuyvesant street in the East Village ( they also have several other locations in the city).


Shio-koji Vegetable Recipes

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Here are two different recipes that are healthy and super easy to make. I used shio-koji instead of salt as well. Shio-koji is very easy to make and a lot healthier than regular salt.

Shio-Koji Israeli Salad

1 cucumber peeled and diced
1 diced tomato
1 scallion chopped
1 tbsp of chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp shio-koji

1. Chop all vegetables into bite sized cubes.
2. Chop dill and scallions
3. Transfer to container and add olive oil, shio-koji and lemon juice
4. Close container and shake to mix ingredients

 

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Shio-Koji Roast Vegetables

1 cup of brussel sprouts, halved
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms ( your choice)
1/2 sliced red onion
1 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp shio- koji
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Cut all vegetables into similar sized pieces
2. Put the vegetables in an oven pan and put shio-koji on top.
3. Drizzle olive oil on top
4. Sprinkle with dill
5. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until vegetables are cooked.


Nabe in Winter time-Japanese Hotpot

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Yesterday we made Nabe (a Japanese-style hotpot). It’s great for those cold Winter days or when you’re feeling like you might be getting sick.

We made a chicken based nabe with a broth made from jidori chicken, konbu, sake, bonito flakes and water.

Then we added a bunch of vegetables and thin sliced pork and sliced chicken.

I made two kinds of sauces: citrus-soy sauce and a creamy sesame sauce.

Here are the recipes:

citrus soy sauce

1/2 squeezed lemon lemon

1 cup of nabe broth

1 cup of soy sauce

1 tbsp of rice vinegar

creamy sesame sauce

3 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp white miso

1 tsp shio-koji (optional)

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 cup of nabe broth


Kiyomi-san and Natsuko-san’s Coco Cafe

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I attended Kiyomi-san and Natsuko-san’s one day Macrobiotic cafe last Friday. I loved the way the room was set up with bright colors and items reminiscent of a tropical place.  My favorite dish was the shio-koji ramen and of course the amazake dessert!  The amazake was served frozen so it tasted like a sorbet.  It was really delicious!


Myoho Asari’s Shio-koji Workshop


This past Sunday I was given the opportunity meet and work with Myoho Asari, the woman who helped spread the shio-koji trend throughout Japan.  For those of you who are not familiar with shio-koji, it is steamed rice containing koji spores (which contain enzymes) combined with salt.  Koji are fermented with the salt which creates shio-koji.  As Myoho-san pointed out at the workshop, most of us have eaten koji, even if we have no idea what it is.  If you have eaten miso, soy sauce, or sake before, you have eaten koji! Koji is the starter ingredient for many of the integral foods found in the Japanese diet which are eaten world wide now.  Shio-koji is basically a flavor enhancer that is all-natural and actually provides a variety of health benefits.  It also serves as a probiotic, by providing the intestines with good bacteria that helps to maintain a healthy intestinal environment.  You can find out more about koji as well as recipes on how to make shio-koji on Myoho san’s website: http://kojiya.jp/index.html

Now that I have introduced shio-koji, I would like to talk more about Myoho-san and her workshop held in Brooklyn this past Sunday. (Event Link) Myoho-san is a lovely woman who is very passionate about Koji and about life.  I believe that her passion really generated in the room at the workshop last night and that the attendees walked away from the class with a new interest and enthusiasm about Koji. Myoho-san first talked about the variety of benefits as well as the background and history about Koji in Japan.  She then invited some members from the audience to take part in making shio-koji.  I have made shio-koji a few times before but I learned something new from Myoho-san.  She really believes that it is important to treat koji as we would other living things because they are actually alive. Therefore the way in which she handles koji was completely different then how I had been handling it.  In the mixing process of salt, koji and water, she uses her hands the whole time and first carefully breaks up the koji, thoroughly combines it with the salt, and then adds water and kneads the koji.  Up until now I had just been throwing the ingredients together and mixing them with a wooden spatula, but I am sure that I won’t be doing that anymore now that I saw the way Myoho-san does it.

Myoho-san also demonstrated how to make sausage using shio-koji.  The sausage that she made did not require the use of intestine skin, which I thought was very interesting.  The shio-koji really made a difference in enhancing the flavor.

In the end everyone was able to taste a variety of foods using shio-koji. There were also foods made with just salt so that everyone could compare the taste of shio-koji and regular salt.

Myoho-san hopes to spread the knowledge and tradition of shio-koji to the United States and maybe the rest of the world.  I really hope that her dream will come true.

This is what I use to make shio-koji, Eden Salt and Cold Mountain Rice Koji.  In New York you can buy Cold Mountain Koji at Sunrise Japanese Market and Dainobu Japanese Market.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take pictures at the event as I was interpreting for Myoho san, but If you visit her website you can see more pictures of koji and her koji store in Japan!

Cooking with Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)

Some people say that Kabocha is similar to butternut squash. Kabocha is an excellent source of Vitamin A which means that it is good for your hair, skin, and eyes. It also helps build your immune system because Vitamin A is supposed to keep your white blood cells healthy.

In Japan Kabocha is served in a variety of ways such as nimono (japanese stew), tempura, salad, croquettes, and many more. Kabocha can also be eaten as a dessert due to the fact that it is naturally sweet!

I used to only see Kabocha in Japanese supermarkets but recently I see them everywhere including whole foods, my local supermarket, even the deli near my apartment! I read something interesting recently, that Kabocha is still growing even after it has been picked. This means that unlike other vegetables which should be eaten soon after they are picked, it is ok for Kabocha to sit for a while (in appropriate temperatures) before it is eaten. In order to bring out the best flavor, it is kept in under controlled temperatures for days before it is sold. ( I am not sure if this is everywhere or not).

The best season to eat Kabocha is Fall and Winter. Although it is still spring, I couldn’t wait. I used one kabocha in three different ways:

Kabocha and mixed vegetables baked with shio-koji: Broccoli, kabocha, shimeji mushrooms, red onion, and shio-koji, olive oil

I used  the seeds from the Kabocha and roasted them in a pan.  I added some soy sauce to them as well and made onigiri (Japanese rice ball) with them the next day!

Finally, I used the leftover kabocha and mixed it into a thick paste and made yokan with it.  It was very simple and only used three ingredients: kanten powder (agar agar powder), maple syrup, almond milk, and kabocha paste!


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