There’s Mold In That There Rice!

By Sandy Todd Webster
Jan 18, 2017

With so much focus on the health benefits of the microbiome and the burgeoning popularity of culinary fermentation applications, it’s no wonder that koji has been tagged as an ingredient of the future.

Ironically, the roots of Aspergillus oryzae—the mold that transforms soybeans into delicious umami-packed soy sauce and miso—are as centuries-old as Japanese food traditions. As with so many great food secrets that we think we’re newly discovering, chefs and food scientists are simply putting a new spin on the application of this one, and with great results.

Today, culinary pros and home cooks in the know are buying rice kernels that have been inoculated with the mold and then dehydrated. They are using the rice koji for all sorts of mad-genius purposes, including curing meat and seasoning sauces.

This sweet, fragrant mold is also used to make beverages (heard of sake and amazake?), pickles and other ferments, including rice vinegar and mirin. The mold is mysteriously delicious in a “what the heck is that flavor?” kind of way, and can potentially put your microbiome in a happy, healthy place.

Have you used rice koji? Tell us how and describe your results: [email protected]

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Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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