Quest for Koji
Koji is a result of fermentation that occurs when cooked rice or other grains are inoculated with the Aspergillus oryzae bacteria and incubated over several days. The bacteria converts the starch in the grain into sugar, which is then traditionally used to make sake or miso, though it can also be used to cure meats, make beverages like kombucha and even leaven baked goods.
In order to taste the true essence of koji, I created a recipe for koji sorbet, which, thanks to the starch in the rice, churns up the texture of a fine gelato. It is extremely sweet with a cultured tang and goes beautifully with tart or even sweet pickled fruit, or add a scoop to a glass of kombucha for a bracing probiotic float.
- 500 g jasmine rice koji, fresh or frozen
- 50 g granulated sugar
- Up to 200 g water
- Salt, to taste
- Place koji, sugar and a splash of water in blender and begin pureeing on medium speed. Drizzle water into blender slowly to help loosen the purée, then turn speed up to high and continue adding water to make a thick but perfectly smooth and fluid paste. Blend in salt to taste.
- If blending has warmed the koji purée, chill thoroughly before processing in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Remove to a plastic quart container and pack tightly, pressing plastic wrap over the surface before freezing completely.
About JBF Guest Chefs/Dinners at the James Beard House:
Over 200 times a year, chefs from across the country are invited to cook at the historic James Beard House in Greenwich Village, NYC. These intimate, exquisite meals are cooked in the kitchen that once belonged to the legendary James Beard, creating a unique experience diners won’t forget. The chefs selected are part of the Foundation’s national community of tastemakers who tell meaningful stories, create memorable experiences, and support its mission to make America’s food culture more delicious, sustainable, and equitable for everyone. All James Beard House dinners are open to the public.
To view details of Anna’s Dinner at the James Beard House held on September 15, 2018, Quest for Koji, click here:
About the Author
Anna Markow has been baking professionally for nearly a decade. She enjoys challenging the concept of what is considered a dessert ingredient. She is currently the pastry chef at Esca in NYC.