WHAT IS KOJI
"KOJI" is a traditional and essential ingredient for producing miso, sake, soy sauce, and other Japanese condiments in Japan's unique food culture.
It is made of cooked rice that has been inoculated with microscopic (Aspergillus oryzae), a mold that’s widespread in Japan.
Obviously, Koji fungus is totally harmless, and safe to eat.
Koji has been playing a significant role in Japanese cuisine. It is the most important precursor ingredient to make sake, soy sauce, amazake, mirin, and miso etc.
Under the fermentation process, Koji releases two main enzymes, which are 'Amylase' and 'Protease'. Amylase breaks down starch in the cereal ( called “saccharification”), resulting the natural sweetness from rice.
The other enzyme, Protease, decompose the protein in food and turning to amino acids.
This ferment brings out the Japanese food culture such as Amazake and miso.
In recent years there’s been a greater push to raise koji awareness, especially with NOMA in Copenhagen and Jeremy Umansky with Koji Alchemy.
Koji is not only a key ingredient for Japanese fermented food but also it is getting common mong chefs to use koji as a tenderizer / umami enhancer or making own condiments such as miso with local beans and garums.