The Hidden Hero - Red Rice Shio Koji
A salty punch followed by mellow sweetness.Yeasty on the nose. In this case, flavor notes depend on the type of grain being used.
Chef Hussain is quite the science geek. Over the last year, he has considered Noma’s Book on fermentation his bible! He has been experimenting with several new techniques, looking for ways to enhance the flavour of dishes across The Bombay Canteen & O Pedro menus.
One such fermentation experiment that succeeded after many goofy trials was the Red Rice Shio Koji. Don’t be intimidated by the word. Shio stands for salt & Koji is a yeast or starter from Japan that has been inoculated with an enzyme called Aspergillus Oryzae.
All of our favourite condiments like soy sauce, miso sauce and rice vinegar owe their flavours to Koji. Shio Koji is a process of lacto fermenting the propagated rice in salt and water for 7-14 days. In lacto fermentation, you let the Koji interact with a grain of your choice. The choice of grain is an important consideration based on the flavour you want to introduce to the dish - barley, if you want a nutty note, and rice if you want that earthy touch.
Chef Hussain wanted to keep things gluten free so he used red rice. We use Shio Koji in our ferments not just because of its versatility, but also because of its long shelf life which helps us maintain sustainable and responsible cooking practices.
- Step one is the most important: inoculate the rice or a grain of your choice. In our case, Chef Thomas brought back a batch of Koji rice from Japan a few years ago.
- Pur 400gms of Koji red rice into a jar with 400 gms sea salt and 40 gms water
- Let this mixture sit for 7 to 14 days based on temperature and humidity
- The Shio Koji is done when the consistency becomes mushy and paste-like
- This is then used to marinate meats or veggies
Note: In 7-14 days, the Koji breaks down the compounds of the meat or vegetables, making them tender and generating umami that accentuates their flavours. The longer the Shio Koji ferments, the funkier the flavour.
The Bombay Canteen uses this for
We use Shio Koji to marinate the pork in the Pork Thukpa .
You can use this for
While this may be a little complex, it is not impossible to make at home if you have access to Koji. You can use Koji to marinate anything.