This is the RICE KOJI !! Report of all hand process Rice Koji shop in Niigata

Can you see ??
This is one piece of Rice Koji.
Well, actually, one piece of rice which koji fungi propagates well.
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Rice Koji. In another word, malted rice.
This is the very important ingredients of Japanese fermented seasonings,
such as Miso, Mirin, Sake, Vinegar, Shio-Koji, Shoyu-Koji, Ama-koji.
What kind of quality of Koji you use…that is very important.

Here is a small shop in Niigata
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There is a five starts “Rice master” in this shop,
who has a passion for making good Rice Koji.
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At his shop, they are making Rice koji in traditional way. All by hands.
Why handmade rice koji become good quality? Why it’s good?
Because…they can feel more information about Rice Koji’s condition than machine.
Temperature, moisture, then colour, smell, ..all conditions, which cannot really express in numerical form.
Hands are such a sensitive organ. You can see, you can smell, your hands can feel.
Then look for and make the best condition for Rice Koji.

Since his shop is in Niigata where is rice-producing region, especially Koshihikari rice,
he wants to use Koshihikari rice when he make Rice koji.

Niigata’s Koshihikari is probably the most expensive rice in Japan.
It was sweetness and nice stickiness.

Rice fields in Niitaga.
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In autumn, it become like this, become gold all around.
It’s such a beautiful view.
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This is how to make Rice Koji at his place.
It is very hard work, requires your five senses, but very interesting world.
I was so drawn into this world.

At first, soak the Niigata’s Koshihikari rice in the water overnight.
Then, steam rice for about 1 hour.
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Then take some steamed rice out from this big steamer.
Literary, digging!!

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As soon he place the steamed rice on the working table,
they start to trying to make rice into pieces.
I hope you get my meaning,
normally (especially Kohsihikari rice), when rice is cooked,
cooked rice is clustered, right?
They have to make rice unclustered so that Koji fungus can reach each rice pieces.
In this shop, their work is all by hands as mentioned before.
Some shops use chemical at this stage, but they are strictly working by hands.
Just to make good Rice Koji.

This work has to be done as quickly as possible, otherwise rice stick together soon.
They continue this work until the rice cool down to 31℃.
(According to them, they know what is 31℃ like by touching, they don’t need to use thermometer to check temperature. Amazing!)

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Then sprinkle Koji fungus on these rice.
Very carefully.
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Then mix them again!
It was really beautiful team work!!
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Bring this lot to another room.
At this moment, rice is still just rice but, covered with Koji fungus.
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This is the Koji room!! In Japanese, Koji muro (糀室).
Spending time (45H) in this room, Koji fungus will increase into/all over rice.
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Rice (with Koji fungus) will be place in this box called Hegi.
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So many of them!!
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This is called Komo, which is made of rice straw.
This is like a blanket for Rice Koji.
This Komo is really good to adjust and control temperature and humidity,
which is very important elements making good quality Rice Koji.
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Because they make these Komo by their hands,
they keep rice straw like this.
(Of course this rice straw is Koshihikari rice one!)
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During sleeping in Koji-muro (for 45 hours),
they always look after Rice koji.
They have to check colour, smell/scent, feeling when they touch.
Use all of senses.
This is the difficult part, because every time, Koji grow different way.
This is the interesting part of dealing with “alive” thing.

So after 45 hours, Rice and Koji become lightly sweet Rice Koji! Finally!!

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Depend on the purpose, different type of Koji fungus will be used to make Rice Koji.
See the difference.
Left = Whitish Rice Koji, Right = Yellowish Rice Koji.
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In this shop, Whitish Rice Koji will be used for Amazake, Shio-koji.
Yellowish Koji will be making Miso.

Yes, they make nice Miso as well, and sell.
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There was a wooden barrel, too!
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At the shop, you can buy Niigata’s soybeans, good for making Miso!
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They makes Shio-Koji (salted koji), too.
Of course, used the high quality Rice koji, which I have just reported.
If you are interested in Shio-Koji and want to purchase,
it is available now.
Please contact me.
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Making Shoyu (Soy sauce)

How to make Shoyu (Soy sauce) at home?

This is Koji to make Shoyu.

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Look like….mud.

Shoyu (Soy sauce) is made from “soybeans”, “wheat”, “koji bacteria” and salted water.
Both steamed/cooked soybeans and roasted wheat are mixed with Koji bacteria in the special Koji room called Koji muro (麹室).
This is the one shown as above photo.

For home made Shoyu, you can start from this process by purchasing this prepared Koji for Shoyu.
Once you get this Koji, the making process not that hard.
What you need is LOVE to look after your shoyu, and TIME for slow process.

With this prepared Koji + Salt + Water + fermentation period = Your Soy sauce!! Yeah!

Prepare….Koji, salt, water and a big jar.
In the big jar (My one is bit too small …. difficult to put  hand. Bigger one is recommended)
First, decide how long you want to ferment your Soy Sauce.
(From 6 months to 12 months)
Depend of the fermentation length, you can calculate how much salt you need to your  Soy Sauce.
(From approx 18% to 22 %)

Prepare salted water.

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Then pour the salted water to the jar.

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Mix them well by your hand in the jar.
(That’s why you need a big jar)

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At first, Soy Sauce Koji doesn’t want to be mixed with salted water,
but after while you are mixing it, they become friend with salted water 🙂

This is how it looks at this moment.

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Wipe the jar, keep it clean.

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Place the jar in the dark + cool place.

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Mix Shoyu every day for the first week.
After the first week, mix like this once a week for 6 months to 12 months.

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This is the surface of the second day.
Can you see little bubble is coming to the surface?
It’s alive Shoyu, fermenting now ~~.
Taste ? Sharp saltiness.

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It is a slow fermentation process.
That’s why it is good ♪
That’s why it has a great flavor ♪
That’s why it has many nutritious benefits ♪

This is the photo of 4 months age.
Surface looks different from the first day, doesn’t it?
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Taste already good, but I want to wait few more months to grow.
Looking forward to have my own Shoyu soon !!!

Making Miso in Melbourne (Vol.3)

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I use Miso a lot in my cooking, so I’m in danger that actually running out of my Miso!!
Urgently need to prepare Miso for next summer and winter.

Unfortunately, I don’t have big pot!
(I used to use my roomy’s. Since I moved to new house, I need whole lots of cooking staff!!)
This is essential to use big pot for making miso, but unfortunately I don’t have one.
Therefore, I used 500g of Soybeans only today. Little portion.

This is today’s Miso recipe.
Normally I put more Koji than Soybeans, but today I used same portion of Soy & Koji.

This is for 2kg of Miso paste
-Organic Soy beans 500g (Grown in Australia – bought at Terra Madre)
-Koji (Dried) 500g (Imported Koji from Japan, bought at Fuji Mart)
-Natural Sea salt 215g (From New Zealand – bought at Terra Madre)

I bought Koji in Australia first time!

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Not sure about taste, but this was the only one I can get from shop.
It is always interesting to use new Koji. Each koji tastes different.

CIMG9443As usual, soak soybean over night (recommended to soak more than 18 hours), and get rid of some not good soybeans.

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Then start cooking soybeans.

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Mmmm, I really need to buy big pot now.
Boiled over easily. (Maybe I did 10 times!!)

Keep cooking keep cooking until soybeans become really soft.

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While cooking soybeans, prepare Koji & salt.
At first, pour some warm water into Koji (120cc) then mixed.
This is to make dried Koji to refresh.

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Then add salt and mix them well.

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Isn’t this salt green?
Why green?
Mmmm. It said, “Natural sea salt from New Zealand, dried naturally under the sun”.
Looks so green. Well, let’s see how this salt works on my Miso!

OK- when soybeans become very soft, fun time starts.
Put the soybeans into the bag,

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and…make them into the paste!! Any style is OK~.

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or by hand like this!
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Once it become paste, put them into the bog bowl (I need bigger bowl!),
then mixed with Koji&Salt which you prepared before.

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Mix really well. Use your hands!!

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I added some soybeans boiled water if you like softer paste.

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Then~, making miso paste balls.

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Put all the miso paste balls into your container.
Make sure no air inside, and make the top flat.

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Spread some salt on top then cover.

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Put “salt weight” on top of that,

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Then it’s done! Miso for next summer.

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But this is just 2 kg of Miso paste.
Need to prepare more!! so more reports will come 😛

Tamago-yaki ~Japanese Rolled Egg~

One of the most popular Japanese side dish (Okazu) for lunch box!
It’s Tamago-yaki.
Everyone loves it.
It adds nice colour into your lunch ♪
I make it with Mirin & Shio-Koji. Sometimes with Dashi, sometimes with sugar.
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It is not difficult to make!
Try for your tomorrow’s lunch.

Egg!

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Then add Shio-Koji (option)
I think, this Shio-koji makes Tamago-yaki taste yummy and mild,
but this is not essential!

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Then pour some Mirin ! This bring this Tamago-yaki nice and soft sweetness.

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Beat them well.

Then…
Oh, sometimes I add little bit of green bits.
Today, I had beans, so chopped them and added into egg.

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Prepare pan, pour little bit of oil and heat it.

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Then pour the egg into the pan.
First, pour half of egg.

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Then start rolling it !

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Then bring the rolled egg into your side.

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Start again! Pour rest of egg into the pan.

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and spread it all over the pan.

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Then start rolling again.

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Teda~~. Done!!

But if you make the rolled egg more nicely rolled shape,
you can use Makisu (rolling mat) !!
If your rolled egg didn’t go well, this rolling mat will fix it!
Try it when egg is still hot.

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Wait until it cools down, then open it !
See? Nice and rolled!

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Then cut whatever your size.
I normally cut for lunch box size.

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In lunch box, it looks like this.

Mmmmm, I need red or orange colour in this lunch box though.
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Or like this. Tamago-yaki is pretty popular thing in the lunch box.
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Sometimes we have this Tamago-yaki as breakie.
Here is a very standerd Japanese breakie. Of course, will be served with rice and miso soup !!

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Cheese & Tomato canape ~Shio-Koji~

For your easy lunch or snack, what about cheese & tomato canape.
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However, there is a problem with Australian Tomatos. It tastes like patatos !!
What happen to them??
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Well. There is a easy solution here.
Shio-Koji makes your tomato miracle-yummy one.

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Slice tomato as usual, and put some Shio-koji on it.
This Vita-Weat is my hit recently.
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You will surprise how tasty the tomato is.
Shio-Koji saves Australian Tomatos. (Temporary though)
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Shoyu-koji preparation ~Soy Sauce Koji~

Another miracle seasoning is Shoyu-Koji (Soy Sauce Koji) !!
What you need is to wait for a month.
During this time, Koji bacteria works for you.

Here is ingredients to start. Only these !!

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Dried Koji (200g) and Say sauce (400 cc)
(When you use raw Koji, then Say sauce will be 300cc)
Please use naturally brewed soy sauce ♪
Prepare a disinfected bottle in boiling water

Put Koji in bottle.
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Then pour say sauce.
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Then mix well.
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Until this looks like this
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1st day, Koji in soy sauce looks like this. Looks young :-p
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But after few months later, it will look just like this ↓↓
Taste become really good after few months later, but you can start using it approx after 1 month .

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Taste it, try it for cooking !!
Umami from soy and additonal Koji, it is really full of umami.
How to use this Shoyu Koji will be introduced following blog.

On the bottle, I normally put label with date I prepared.
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On the back, it is useful if you leave the quantities as memo.
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Shio-Koji ~Salt Koji~

A miracle Japanese seasoning ….Shio Koji.
Have you heard of it? Have you used it already?
It is imported from Japan to Australia, you can find it in Asian grocery store.
(I found it at some store in Melbourne)
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You can get it from shops, but it is sooooooo good if you make it by your own.
You can get all the benefit of Koji bacteria from the one you made at home,
because you don’t have to heat treatment it, which means, all Koji bacteria and enzymes are active,
and work for your food and for your body!!!
Details will be introduced later :-p, but It brings you lots of benefits!!!

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It is so easy to make it, so why don’t you try?
What you need is…. Rice koji, Salt and water !!!
Salt can be 10% to 30% of Koji quantity.

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Prepare Koji and Salt as below.
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Then pour water.
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Then mix well.
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Leave it for 1 week (summer) to 2 weeks (winter).
During this period, you don’t need to put it into the fridge,
because it’s fermentation period~~~~!!!!

Mix it once a day. Add water if the paste seems too hard.
Taste a little every day. You will notice the taste changes.
At first, you feel strong salty taste, but gradually it become mild.
Also you can taste Umami, too.
When you taste Umami and mild saltiness, it is ready to use.
At this stage, it looks like this.
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Can you see the changes from the day you pour the water?
It fermente well!

Now, It’s better to keep it in fridge.
Your cooking range will expand by this Shio koji!!
Yummy recipes to use Shio koji will be introduced in this blog ♫
Enjoy cooking with koji !

Miso shop in Japan

The number of miso shops in Japan is getting less,  but still, there are nice shops around.  You can find it in middle of Tokyo, too.

I would like to introduce this Miso specialty ship in Gotanda. (inside of Yamanote line)
Sakamoto Shoten. Nice shop face, isn’t it?

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Can you see all different type of Miso? Exciting !!!

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There are little backs for someone who wants to try little bit, but many different Miso.
All 100 yen. (About A$1)
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These are the Miso I got this time, comes from different areas, different ingredients, different methods.
You can simply enjoy its taste first.
You will notice how different taste they have.
From sweet one to strong flavor one !!
Blending Miso is another exciting thing!! (You can create your own type miso by blending)

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Or, enjoy Miso soup, your natural healthy intravenous of the day!!
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Salmon tomato sauce pasta – Shio-Koji magic –

Easy yummy tomato sauce pasta!
Today, we use tinned Salmon and tomato.
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Tip for this dish is again, Shio-Koji (Salt Koji) !!

First, prepare Salmon and Shio-Koji.
Tuna is also good alternative for Salmon.

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Mix Salmon and Shio-Koji and leave it over night.

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Koji bacteria works a lot again.
This step makes Salmon yummier (change protein to Umami) and give more nutritious,
also get rid of fishy stinky small.

Let’s start making pasta.
Normal step as you always make. Olive oil and chopped garlic.

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Then put onion. Wait until onion become golden colour.

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Start boiling pasta in another pot at this stage.

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Then open tomato tin.

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Put Salmon (The one you mixed with Shio-Koji last night) and tomato in to the pan.

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Prepare Shio-Koji again, and add it to the sauce.
If you like, balsamic vinegar and black pepper is also good for this sauce.

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So quick! It is quick, but full of Umami yummy tomato sauce is ready now.

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Serve with pasta. Put basil leaves on top. Enjoy ♫
If you like creamy pasta, you can add fresh cream for this sauce.

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Scallop and Vegetable stir fry

This is one of my favorite mum’s dish.
Looks yummy, isn’t it? It is really taste good.
The tip is using “Shio-koji (Salt Koji)”
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Prepare any vegetable you like and chop them up.
Green leaves vegetable looks good.
I often cook with different vegetables,
but introduce ingredients for this photo shoots as example.

Pak choy
Bamboo root
Quail eggs
Scallops
Crab meat (option)
Shio- Koji (Salt Koji)

First, lightly stir marinaded scallop with “Shio-Koji” and set asaide.

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Then stir rest of vegetables. Pour bit of water.
Spread “Shio-koji (salt koji)” on the vegetables.

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Steam them until vegetable will be cooked.

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Now you can put previously cooked scallops back.

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Add dissolved potato starch to thick the soup.

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At the end, add canned crab meat (option).

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It also good as a hospitality dish. Everyone will love it.
Serve with rice.

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Ama Koji ~ Sweet Koji ~

Ama koji (sweet koji) is fermented rice koji, cooked with thin rice porridge.
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This Ama koji can be used as seasoning, mild healthy sweetness.
Also, it can be used for marinade sause, pickles dressing, and sweets itself.
Unlimited ways of using in your cooking.

For example….
Marinade fish. This is one of my favorite way.
Bacteria in this Ama koji will make your fish softer and change protein into Umami !!!
Cheap salmon become like special grilled fish in fancy dining.
Enzyme which is gift from ferment process makes the fish richer in nutritious !!
Also, fish stinky small goes off !!
So many good things around it.

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When you grill it, it can be burnt the fish easily, so please take care not to burn it.
Once you have this Ama koji marinaded grilled salmon, you cannot go back to normal salmon !!

If you have vegetable in your fridge, chop them up and marinade them over night.
It turns to wonderful pickles just like this↓

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You can try various type of vegetables.
Again, koji enzyme works a lot.

Here, frozen Ama koji with fruits, it turns to natural sweet after your meal !!
All natural sweetness from fermented koji.
This is miracle.

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Also, Ama koji porride is good for your breakfast.
Try with seasonal fruits!!
This one is chopped up apple, walnuts and Ama koji.
Healthy yummy breakie!!
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Here is how to make Ama Koji at home.
You can buy Ama Koji from super market (maybe from asian shops), I recommend you to make by your own.
Details will be explained later, but you get all benefit if you make it by your own.
Not many koji benefits from packaged Ama koji compared to home made one.

First, you need Rice Koji.
(You can get it from Japanese super market. If you are in Melbourne, you can ge it from Fuji mart in South yarra )
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Also, you need thin rice porridge.
Like this thickness.
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All you need is, thin rice porridge and rice koji and rice cooker.
Now, put rice koji into thin rice porridge and mix well.
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*Make sure rice porridge is cool down, less than 50 to 60 degree.
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Use “warm” function to keep the temperature around 50 – 60 degree.
Depend on the rice cooker you have, but it is better not to put lid perfectly.
Need some space to avoid having high temperature.
(I put cloth for not coming dust into the ama koji)
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then wait 6-10 hours.
(If possible, it is better to mix few times)

Surprise.

Rice porridge changed to sweet Ama koji!!
Very sweet, but very gentle sweetness.
Rice changed to glucose now. Easy to digest. Gentle to body.
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Please store in the fridge. It keeps fermenting and taste change, too.
I normally consume within 1 week.
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Making Miso in Melbourne

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Miso making by simple ingredients. Only Soybeans, Salt and Koji.
Left = Sea salt ( Bought from health food store at Smith Street)
Right : Rice Koji (Brought from Japan) *Rice Koji is now available from Fuji Mart in South Yarra, Melbourne.

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Cook soaked soybeans until it become soft.
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Mmmm, looks still hard. Need to cook bit more.
This time, we didn’t have enough time to cook soybeans.
When you start making miso, make sure you have enough time !! If you cook soybeans really soft, then everything goes easy after that.
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Now, smashing cooked soybeans.
We tried to use many different smash tools.
(If soybeans is soft in this stage, you can just press them by hands with no problem)
Friends were cooking other thing, so pumpkin and potatos on the table is not for Miso ♪
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We used food processor, too ! (it was quick)
Now, mix smashed soybeans and Rice Koji+Salt.
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Mix well. Mix well.
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Soybeans seems bit too wet. But don’t worry. Koji will work for you well for another 6 to 12 months
then hope they make yummy Miso at the end !
So, just mix Soybeans and Koji well at this stage.
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Tada~~♪♪
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Now you need to put them into container to keep 6 to 12 months.
Put them tightly, so that no air in the container.
If there are air pockets, then it might cause for having molds.
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Make the surface to flat.
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Put the plastic wrap on the surface, then place lid.
Store it in cool place for about 6 months at least.
Normally, I store 12 months. (Some people store 3 years!!)

Miso growing report will be following !!!

Making Miso From Scratch

First you will need some Koji. You can buy these from a Koji shop, ins Japanese supermarkets on over the Internet. It comes in a plastic packet and it looks like rice.

Thats because it is rice, mostly. Rice Koji is the bacteria surrounding the rice. The bag on the left is Koji and the bag on the right is salt.
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Next you want to combine the salt and Koji in a big bowl. Mix it well with your hands.
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Now you need to prepare the soy beans. We recommend using dried soy beans that have been soaked in water overnight. You then need to cook them for a few hours on a low heat until they are soft enough to squash easily with your fingers.
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The soy beans need to be mashed into a paste. There are lots of ways to do this. You can use a mortar and pestle, a food processor, whatever is easiest. This time we used  a plastic bag and mashed them with our hands and a wooden rolling pin.
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It took a little while.
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But we got there. Once the beans are a pretty consistent paste, add them to the koji and salt prepared earlier.
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And mix them together too.
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You might need to add a bit of water from the boiled soybeans to soften the mix up. The softness should be the same as what you want the final miso paste to be. The texture will be the same. Once you have the texture right you need to roll the paste into balls about the size of a baseball.
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Now the fun part. Put a plastic bag into a bucket or pot and throw the balls in one by one. You do this to get rid of all the air bubbles.
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Now give the paste a flat surface and sprinkle a bit of salt on the top.
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Seal the plastic bag airtight making sure you get all the air out. A really good way of doing this is to push as much with your hands then use a straw to suck out the very last bit of air.
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Finally, after you’ve tied the plastic bag, weigh it down with another bag of salt. This will also keep the temperature cool.
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Store the pot for 6 months. Some where out of the sun and out of the way.

Stay tunned and we’ll show you how it turns out!