All About Japan

The Incredible Edible Fungus

| Sake , The Wonder 500
The Incredible Edible Fungus

Aspergillus oryzae, better known in Japan as koji (rice mold) may sound completely unappetizing; however, without koji, we'd live in a world without sake! And, surprisingly enough, this versatile mold is used to make a wide array of products. You'll be surprised by what this little fungus can do!

6. Liquid Shio Koji

Shio koji, or salted rice malt, is a traditional Japanese condiment made by fermenting malted rice mold with salt and water. The enzymes in the condiment extract the natural flavor and sweetness of ingredients, so it is possible to prepare delicious dishes with less salt. You can drizzle this liquefied version of shio koji on meat to make it more tender or on fish to make it more succulent.

Healthy eating trends have spurred a demand in advanced countries for delicious flavors that are not based on oils and fats. Shio koji is a condiment that could perfectly respond to such needs. Used as a dressing or a marinade, it does not add a distinctive flavor or aroma, but rather highlights the original taste of the ingredients. I believe it will naturally blend in various foreign food cultures.

5. Tennen Jozo Miyako Miso

Okinawa is the home of miso (fermented soybean paste) manufacturing with ancient traditions that incorporate the region’s rich subtropical climate. On Miyakojima Island, miso manufacturing using organic koji starters has been miraculously preserved thanks to koji bacteria living in the cellars of the manufacturer. These bacteria are naturally deposited onto the starter used in the fermentation process. Made with non-genetically modified purely domestic soybeans, barley, and refined island salt, this product boasts the mild and soothing flavor of traditional homemade miso.

Savory miso soup made with Miyako Miso is an utterly gratifying experience. The warm feeling that spreads through one’s senses is truly exceptional. The subtle, soothing flavor preserved through the ages and is reminiscent of the slow and relaxing ambiance of the Okinawa.

4. Amakoji Hishio Shio

Koji has had a large impact on Japanese culinary culture. This shio koji is fermented with added salt, and kinako (sweet, roasted soybean flour) is added to make Amakoji Hishio Shio, a completely new and original shio koji. This is a healthy fermented food without any chemical flavoring. Food containing this product has been presented at three-star French restaurants and events in Chinese hotels to great acclaim.

Use it to add flavor to meat or fish dishes and the unique sweetness and flavor of the shio koji will penetrate the food for a uniquely Japanese cooking experience.

3. Soy Salt

Soy sauce granules may look like a simple instant condiment, but this misunderstanding is swiftly dispelled by Soy Salt, a product developed by Kamebishi, one of Japan’s leading manufacturers of soy sauce established in 1753. The company works meticulously to produce soy sauce of the highest quality using the unique mushiro-koji method of soy processing, layering koji mold-applied soy and wheat on layers of mats made from bamboo and rice straw. Its products are held in great esteem by professional chefs who seek the genuine flavor of soy sauce. As a freeze-dried product, Soy Salt is made with Kamebishi’s signature slowly-aged top-grade soy sauce. It does not water down the dishes, but enriches them with the exquisite flavor and aroma of high-quality soy sauce.

Soy Salt can be used as a condiment when cooking sautéed meat or fish and pasta, or to add finishing touches to the flavor of any dish. The product can also replace the ordinary soy sauce on the dining table, adding the unique texture of easy-to-use granules. Soy Salt is perfect as an original gift.

2. Kisuke Koji Power

Koji is an indispensable ingredient for brewing soy sauce, miso paste, mirin (sweet sake), and all other fermented seasonings which form the foundation of Japanese cuisine. This rice malt condiment was created by Kojiya Honten Ltd., a company of Saeki City, Oita Prefecture, which for more than 320 years has specialized in production of mold grown on rice. The company was inspired by the ambition to bring rice malt into the food culture and lifestyle of people all over the world as an easy-to-use seasoning.

This condiment is a versatile food ingredient that contains more than 100 varieties of live enzymes, glucose, oligosaccharides, amino acids, and vitamins, as well as digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. As a condiment, it can be mixed with various food ingredients or directly sprinkled on foods in order to highlight and enhance their flavor. Used on a daily basis, it will ensure not only a delicious and effortless dining, but also a healthy lifestyle

1. Komesshu Air Refresher

As the name suggests, this air freshener is made from Iwate Prefecture's rice with no additional fragrances. The rice is ground and natural bacteria is added to the carefully fermented and distilled ethanol to create a mix with the effects of deodorization. When sprayed for a moment, a light scent of Japanese sake fills the air before dissipating. Since there are no additional fragrances, odors almost seem to disappear without notice. This is an air freshener that is both people and environmentally friendly.

This product garnered numerous business awards last year as a locally sustainable business project. Hopefully, such a project has the potential to bring back Japan’s traditional rural essence while also creating a high-quality product.