What Is Salted Rice Malt (塩麹 Shio-Koji)?
Salted rice malt (salt-marinated rice malt) is called shio-koji in Japanese.
This is one of the Japanese seasoning that is made by aging and fermenting a mixture of koji rice, salt, and water.
▲Salted Rice Malt
Koji is made by fermenting steamed cereals (rice, barley, or soybean) with koji mold (Aspergillus oryzae) attached. The type of koji differs depending on the type of cereals and the type of koji mold (there are about 200 types of koji mold in Japan).
The one that is used for salted rice malt (shio-koji) is koji rice that is made from steamed rice with Aspergillus oryzae, and it’s the same as the one in sake (Japanese rice wine), miso, and soy sauce.
People in old times found edible mold “koji”, and they had made eating “koji food” a habit.
They had no preservatives nor refrigerators back then, so koji food were excellent food which can improve shelf life of it, and even increase the flavor of food.
In ancient Japan, people used to make pickling paste using koji, salt, and water just like they made homemade miso.
What Do You Use It for?
1. To tenderize meat and fish, and bring out the flavor of the raw ingredients
Digestive enzyme produced by koji makes meat and fish tender, and it brings out the flavor and richness (umami and koku in Japanese) of the raw ingredients.
There are innumerable types of enzyme produced by koji, and 3 major digestive enzyme are the following:
・Amylase: Decompose starch into sugar to give sweetness
・Protease: Decompose protein into amino acid to bring out umami, and to tenderize food
・Lipase: Decompose fat into fatty acid and glycerin to lose greasy
2. To cut down on salt in diet
Since salted rice malt is bringing out the flavor of the raw ingredients well, it helps you to make a low- salt diet without using a lot of them.
When you use salted rice malt instead of salt, you will need twice the amount written in the recipe. For example, if the recipe says 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of salted rice malt are needed.
You might be worry about using double, but don’t worry!
The amount of salt in salted rice malt is 1/4 of salt. That’s why even though you use twice the amount, salinity will be half of salt.
However, it doesn’t mean you can use a lot of salted rice malt for your cooking. Please don’t forget to measure it, and use it moderately.
What Does It Taste Like?
Salted rice malt is a mixture of salt and koji, so it has basically salty taste. But it’s not just salty, it’s mildly salty and you can definitely feel umami. The flavor is also excellent and unique which come from koji rice.
Nutrition and Benefits
Not only is nutrient-rich salted rice malt a good for the health, it is also having cosmetic effect.
Among various nutrients, the vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B6, pantothenic acid, and biotin) is especially remarkable.
It is said that those vitamin B complex has an effect on recovery from fatigue, and has functions to improve skin metabolism.
Also, salted rice malt can improve intestinal environment which means that following effects can be expected: to relieve constipation, to produce beautiful skin, and to strengthen the immune system.
How to Cook with Salted Rice Malt (Shio Koji)
You can eat salted rice malt both with and without cooking.
It’s good to use for seasoning meat or fish before grilling, and seasoning stir-fried dishes.
Also it’s nice to just pour a little bit of them on simmered food, soup, or even as a salad dressing.
Basically it’s better explanation: “Use salted rice malt instead of salt”.
As I mentioned earlier, please use 2 times as much as the amount of salt in the recipe when you use it as a seasoning.
When you marinate the meat or fish in it, as a guide, the amount of salted rice malt should be 10% of the weight of ingredient (meat / fish).
Since the ingredients marinated in the sauce will easily burn on a frying pan, I recommend to put baking paper on the pan or to cook in an oven.
In addition, it’s great idea to use salted rice malt with other fermented foods such as miso and soy sauce.
Those combination will brings out even more umami and flavor!
Best Salted Rice Malt (Shio Koji) Recipe
I recommend this seriously delicious KARAAGE recipe using shio koji.
The seasoning for this chicken is very simple, but it has perfect savory flavor. Salted rice malt made the chicken amazing and juicy more than I expected.