Today, I have two simple Shio Kōji Recipes – Shio Kōji Pork Sauté and Cucumbers Pickled in Shio Kōji. Shio Kōji is a magic marinade made from kōji, an ancient mould that is used to make Japanese seasonings such as miso, soy sauce, and sake. It’s a flavour bomb and so simple to use.
I decided to publish two recipes (the 2nd recipe is in a separate post) because both recipes are so short, thanks to Shio Kōji. Let me introduce you to this super-handy marinade.
What is Shio Kōji
Shio Kōji (photo below) is made by fermenting rice grain kōji with salt and water for 7-10 days at room temperature. During the fermentation process, starches from the rice are converted into sugar, which gives Shio Kōji a slightly sweet and salty flavour.
Kōji is a food made by putting koji mould (Aspergillus oryzae) called ‘nihon kōji kabi‘ (ニホンコウジカビ) on steamed rice, barley, or soy beans. It is then cultured at a particular temperature and humidity. Each type of kōji retains the original shape of the grain but you can see the hairy mould around the grains.
Because this mould is used widely in Japan to produce many Japanese seasonings and sake, nihon kōji kabi was certified as the ‘National Mould’ by the Brewing Society of Japan in 2006. It’s very rare for a mould to get such an honour.
When you marinate meat or fish (or even vegetables) in Shio Kōji, starches and protein are broken down, producing sugar and amino acid, which makes the ingredients full of umami. It also tenderises meat.
Other than using Shio Kōji as a marinade, you can use it in place of salt in many dishes. The amount of salt included in Shio Kōji is 1/5 of the same amount of salt. It is also OK to eat fresh Shio Kōji.
Shio Kōji can keep in the fridge for a month. You can also freeze it for 6 months (it never hardens even when frozen).
You can make Shio Kōji at home, but I’d rather buy it. To make Shio Kōji, you will need koji, which is even harder to find at Japanese/Asian grocery stores than Shio Kōji.
How to Make Shio Kōji Pork Sauté
Among many Shio Kōji recipes out there, this is a typical example of how to use Shio Kōji on meat.
You will need:
- Pork steaks – I used 5mm / 3⁄16″ thick scotch fillet
- Shio Kōji – paste-form
- Oil to sauté
All you need to do is marinate the pork in Shio Kōji for 1 hour. Sprinkle pepper on the marinated meat, then sauté.
If you need to sauté in batches like my recipe, you need to clean the frying pan after each batch. Due to its sugar content, Shio Kōji gets burnt easily while sautéing.
Instead of pork, you can use chicken, beef, or lamb. You may also add garlic to the marinade. Here is an example of baked chicken drumettes with Shio Kōji and garlic. They were delicious!
How to Make Cucumbers Pickled in Shio Kōji
This is even simpler than the pork sauté. You will need:
- Cucumber sliced into 1cm thick pieces
- Shio Kōji
- Mirin (optional)
Please see the separate post and recipe for Cucumber Slices Pickled in Shio Koji here.
A typical use of Shio Kōji is to marinate meat or fish. Even 1 hour of marinating meat in Shio Kōji makes the meat tender and brings out better flavour. And you don't need a lot of it to marinate.
Cook Time assumes the pork slices are cooked in 2 batches. Marinating Time is the minimum required for marinating thin pork steaks.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 6 pork steaks (thin slices of about 70g / 2.5oz each, note 1)
- 2 tbsp Shio Koji (10% of weight of pork, note 2)
- 1 tbsp oil
- Baby leaf salad
- Sliced radish
Spread Shio Kōji on both sides of pork slices. Leave it for 1 hour (note 3).
Sprinkle pepper over the pork slices.
Add ½ tablespoon of oil to a non-stick frying pan (note 3). Heat over medium high heat.
Place 3 slices of pork in a pan (note 4). Cook for about 1-1½ minutes (note 5).
Turn pork slices over and cook further 30 seconds (note 5). Transfer the pork slices to a plate and loosely cover them with foil.
Clean the frying pan as there will be a lot of burnt Shio Kōji bits on the pan. Kitchen paper should remove the burnt bits if the non-stick pan is in good condition. If the burnt bits do not come off easily, quickly wash the pan and wipe.
Repeat the steps 3 to 5 for the second batch.
Place the salad on one side of the serving plates and scatter the radish slices over the salad.
Place two slices of sautéed pork next to the salad and serve while hot.
1. I used pork scotch fillet/Boston butt sliced to 5mm / 3⁄16" thick. You can use pork loin instead and the thickness can vary too.
If you are using thick slices of pork with a band of fat on one side, make several incisions on the band of fat including the membrane which separates the fat and the flesh. Otherwise, the membrane shrinks when heated, causing the steak to curl.
3. If you are using thicker cuts, you need to marinate the pork for at least 1/2 day, preferably 1 day in the fridge.
4. I could only fit 3 slices of pork in a pan at once. So, ½ of the oil is reserved for the second batch.
5. If your pork is much thicker, you will need to cook for longer. The heat needs to be medium, otherwise the Shio Kōji gets burnt before the pork is cooked.
6. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 157g calories: 320kcal fat: 22g (34%) saturated fat: 6.4g (32%) trans fat: 0.2g polyunsaturated fat: 3g monounsaturated fat: 11g cholesterol: 87mg (29%) sodium: 671mg (27%) potassium: 460mg (13%) carbohydrates: 34g (10%) dietary fibre: 0.3g (1%) sugar: 3.2g protein: 24.3g vitamin a: 0% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 2% iron: 9.1%