Category Archives: Uncategorized

General listing on cultured food and fermentation.

Buttermilk Fried Leeks/Ramps

Buttermilk fried leeks

A great recipe for using leeks/ramps vs. onion rings. Or make some of each for a snack. Another way to use leeks as part of a meal.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces ramps
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)

Special Equipment

  • A deep-fry thermometer
Leeks/Ramps

Recipe Preparation:

  • Trim greens from ramps; reserve for another use such as adding into a salad or pickling/fermenting.
  • Place buttermilk in a shallow dish. Combine flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in another shallow dish. Coat ramps in flour mixture, then buttermilk, then flour mixture again.
  • Fit a large pot with a deep-fry thermometer. Pour in oil to a depth of 2″; heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 350°.
  • Fry ramps until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes.

Drain on paper towels; season with salt.
Serve with lemon wedges.

~ Miyeok guk – beef/seaweed soup ~

miyeok guk soup
Miyeokguk soup ready to eat

A simple soup that can be enjoyed by everyone, classic is wakame seaweed and beef. However, several types of meat can be used including beef, chicken, mussels, or even tofu.

This staple soup also is the soup that new moms eat for the first few weeks after giving birth because of the nutrients contained in miyeok that help with recovery and the production of breast milk.  In Korea, this soup is part of the hospital diet for new moms.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces dried miyeok yields about 3 cups soaked
  • 5 ounces beef stew meat or brisket
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons soup soy sauce gukganjang
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 cups of water
Wakame seaweed

Instructions

  • Soak the dried miyeok for about 30 minutes. Rinse 2 or 3 times thoroughly. Drain after each rinse, and squeeze or knead (as if you are working with bread dough) to remove excess salt used in the drying process and rinse off any hidden sand. Drain well, and cut into bite sizes.
  • Cut the beef/meat into thin bite size pieces. Marinate with 1 tablespoon of soup soy sauce, garlic, and a pinch of pepper.
  • Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Sauté the meat with the sesame oil just until the meat is done.
  • Add the miyeok and 1 tablespoon of soup soy sauce, and continue to sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the water, and bring it to a boil. Skim off any scum. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to medium low. Boil, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until the meat is tender and the broth is slightly milky.

We use a mix of different sea vegetables including wakame, raw sheet nori, hijiki, and fueru wakame. But feel free to use what is on hand. The seaweed can be slightly fermented for 12 hrs to add probiotics.

Fermented Salts

Shio rice koji

Using a fermented salt product verses using plain sea salt in dishes using a salt that has been added to a fermented product allows the use of sea salt and the benefits of cultured/fermentation.

Shio Koji…
We use shio-koji instead of salt in almost all of our cooking now, so it goes pretty quickly. Easy to make with 3 ingredients… rice koji, sea salt, and filtered water. This is a very salted product as salt should be the amount of salt may be reduced or more water added.

Here is the recipe for shio-koji. It only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and then a little more than a week to ferment:

  • 500 gm fresh rice koji
  • 170 gm sea salt
  • 650 cc water
  • Put the koji in a bowl and rub with your hands to break apart any clumps.
  • Add the salt and mix with your hands, kneading the salt and koji together. Myoho always emphasizes that it’s important to put your heart into mixing the shio-koji- think positive thoughts and give appreciation for the koji- the finished product will be more delicious and satisfying.
  • Mix until the mixture becomes slightly sticky and it clumps when squeezed.
  • Add the water and stir well.
  • Put in a loosely lidded container and let it sit at room temperature for 10-14 days until the rice grains become smaller and the mixture has a slightly salty sweet aroma. Stir the mixture well once a day. Here is the full Blog post for making shio koji.

Salted Black Beans…

Next we have salted black beans. Called Chinese douchi – Fermented Black Beans in China. Use this condiment in many recipes especially Latin inspired dishes like tacos, burritos, or even nachos. It includes Chinese black beans or standard black beans, rice koji, and sea salt of your choice. Ratio is 4 parts beans, 1 part rice koji, and sea salt at a rate of at least 3% by weight. Feel free to use more sea salt if desired or even better use fresh made shio koji(salt koji).

The beans can be left whole or mashed into a paste.

We hope you will use these wonderful recipes vs. plane sea salt. See more at Organic-Cultures Blog for shio-koji and mock dry aged steak.

Fermented UMEBOSHI PASTE

Today we’ll look at a fast and easy condiment from Japan made from umeboshi plums, shiso leaf, mirin, and malted koji rice.
Use for a topping on rice dishes, sushi, or anywhere a sweet-sour- salty fermented taste is desired.

Use umeboshi paste to replace salt in dressings, spreads, and sauces or to season soups, grains, and vegetables. Umeboshi is a fermented raw food that will keep indefinitely at room temperature and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Shiso leaf (perilla) contains the bioflavonoid anthocyan, a powerful antioxidant. When combined with tart ume plums, they give umeboshi their red color and serve to ward off harmful organisms.

Ingredients Needed…

– 6 to 10 Japanese umeboshi plums. Most umeboshi plums accesable in the USA are going to be pickled in rice vingar. This is fine as it will help drop the pH to the acidic side. Other types of plums could be used, too.
– Fresh red shiso leaf (perilla), one bunch
– Mirin or sugar to taste
– 1 to 2 tbsp malt rice koji or white miso

malted rice koji
Malted Rice Koji

Directions…

– Start by quickly sauteing the shiso leaf in a little water until wilted.

– Add the plums and sautee for about a minute. Retain the liquid. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature before adding the unpasteurized rice koji or miso.

– Now take the umeboshi plums and shiso leaf and add the miso paste or rice koji. We recommend using malted rice koji for better ferment and less salt use.

– Once fermented to one’s liking, blend the contents until it has the proper consistency and flavor.

– Pack this mixture into a sterilized container and allow to ferment at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. The fermentation time can be longer if desired.

Just like miso, the finished product is room safe or may be kept in the refrigerator.

~ VEGAN, RAW, GLUTEN-FREE MACROBIOTIC ~

This smooth, ruby red puree is a convenient kitchen delight as well as high-quality food. Spread it on sushi rolls, corn-on-the-cob; use it in tofu dips and salad dressings for a wonderfully tart, sweet-sour-salty flavor.

Happy Culturing! Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods.

Garum & Tekka

Tekka – A Miso Condiment

In Japan, there is not a tradition of sprinkling raw salt on their food, instead, they prepare condiments in which salt is either cooked with other ingredients or roasted and ground prior to use. Tekka is prepared in this tradition with its saltiness coming solely from hatcho miso. Tekka should be used sparingly as it is very concentrated and flavourful. Add to soups, sprinkle over cooked rice, or use to make miso soup.

Tekka is a rich, hearty and concentrated condiment that is moist yet powdery. It is made using time-consuming and laborious processes: first gently sautéing chopped burdock root, carrots, lotus root, or other roots vegetables in sesame oil. Hatcho (soya bean) miso is then added and this is simmered in an iron pot or a cast iron dutch oven for six hours of simmering where all the liquid evaporates leaving a condiment deeply black in color while crumbly and semi-dry in texture. Chopped ginger is added
at the end for additional flavor.

Tekka is made with milled carrots, burdock root, lotus root, and ground sesame seeds. It is cooked with sesame oil and hacho miso. Sprinkle over cooked grain, noodles, vegetables, and salad to add a
flavorful taste to your food.

What’s Needed…

– A cast iron pan or dutch oven
– Root vegetables of choice. Traditionally burdock, lotus, carrots, and ginger roots are used.
– A hand grater or food processor as the roots need to be chopped veryfine

Directions…



~ Using Malted Rice Koji: Shio Koji, Dry-Aging, & Amasake ~

As fermented and cultured foods are becoming more popular …being served more in Western restaurants, on store shelves, and home pantries. But one that might not be very familiar is koji rice.
Mainly because it’s a fermented food that’s hiding inside another fermented food.
Today, we will introduce some different ways to use koji rice in recipes and dishes:

Shio Koji or Koji Salt
– Mock Dry Rub Steak
– Amasake Rice Beverage

cultured rice

Koji rice is steamed rice that has been inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae, a mold that ’s widespread in Japan. The mold releases enzymes that ferment the rice by decomposing its carbohydrates and proteins. This process can also be applied to other
grains like barley or soybeans.

To make koji rice, the mold culture Aspergillus Oryzae is added to the cooked sushi rice. The rice kernels are then placed in wooden trays and left to ferment in a warm, humid environment
for up to 50 hours.
The result is essentially molded rice, but don’t be put off by it immediately. What makes koji so special is that it digests starches and proteins and breaks them down into sugars and amino acids. The taste of the finished malted rice is sweet. Because of this, it can be used as a starter for a number of fermented Japanese food products, including amasake, mirin, sake,
shoyu soy sauce, and miso.

koji making

Shio Koji (塩麹, 塩糀) – A century-old natural seasoning used in Japanese cooking to marinate, tenderize, and enhance umami flavor of a dish.
It’s made of just a few simple ingredients: salt, water, and rice koji.
You can use shio koji to marinade meats, make pickles, flavor your vegetables or use it as a salt substitute.  In a recipe that calls for one teaspoon of salt, you can substitute with 2 teaspoons of shio-koji.  Shio-koji is really versatile and can be used in any kind of cooking.

mixing shio

~ Benefits of Shio Koji ~

Because it is a fermented ingredient, shio koji is known for its many health benefits, which includes:

  • A natural pro-biotic seasoning
  • Tenderizes food
  • Brings out the umami and sweetness in foods
  • Reduces the intake of salt
  • Aids in digestion
  • Clear the skin
  • Anti-aging
  • Contains minerals, fiber and vitamins

Shio Koji Recipe

What is needed to get started…
– 375g fresh koji rice
– 110g sea salt, 30% of the weight of the koji
– 560ml good quality water

First, wash your hands and sanitize a glass or metal container. Then rub the koji rice and salt between the hands mixing thoroughly.
Add the water to the shio and stir.

shio koji

Cover and keep in a warm place around 27 to 37 Deg C. Stir twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks. The amount of time can vary with the summer or winter temperature.

Now you can use the shio koji rice in many Japanese style dishes. You can marinade meats, make pickles, or just use your shio-koji as a salt substitute. Shio-koji is incredibly versatile and can be used in any kind of cooking. It will keep in the refrigerator for a good amount of time remembering to label & date. – Fin

~ Mock Dry-Aged Shio Koji Steak ~

Here’s a quick way of dry aging a steak without the time or higher prices for real dry aged. This method seems to be taking storm in the USA.

Dry-aged meat is amazing and certainly worth buying when you can afford it. However, a “mock” dry aging that tastes just as good as dry-aged meat, for a considerably smaller price tag and shorter time frame.

mock dry aged steak
steak rice

What is Needed…
– Steak, any cut desired, cheaper cuts seem to be a better deal.
– Koji rice, enough to cover the steak, purchase here or make your own koji rice.
– Time of about 2 to 3 days

Start by prepping and trimming the steak, if needed. The koji rice can be ground up into a powder or left as whole grains. Rub all sides of the meat (Use cheaper steak cuts for best results) generously and then let it sit uncovered on a wire rack in the fridge for 2-3 days. Don’t allow to sit too long or the meat starts to get too tough and begins to almost cure. After 12 hours, the meat starts to look like a moist, snow-covered slab of steak. The aroma is just as rich and nutty with a touch of sweetness, just as a steak that’s been dry-aging for over a month.

dry-aged steak

Before cooking, rinse the meat thoroughly in cold water to remove all the koji, then pat dry. Next, season the meat with salt and sear it in a cast-iron pan or cook normally. The dry-aged rubbed steak will caramelize and pick up color much faster than a normal steak. – Fin

~ Sweet Amasake Rice Beverage ~

Used in Japan as a sweetener, beverage, or a simple alcoholic drink. Amazake is one of the best known cultured and fermented items from Japan. There are several recipes for amazake that have been used for hundreds of years. By a popular recipe, kōji is added to cooled whole grain rice causing enzymes to break down the carbohydrates into simpler unrefined sugars. As the mixture incubates, sweetness develops naturally. By another popular recipe, sake kasu is simply mixed with water, but usually, sugar is added.
In this recipe, amazake becomes low-alcohol beverage if given time.

amasake beverage

Amazake can be used as a dessert snack, natural sweetening agent, food for infants, added in salad dressing or smoothies. The traditional drink (prepared by combining amazake and water, heated to a simmer, and often topped with a pinch of finely grated ginger) was popular with street vendors. It is still served at inns, tea houses, and at festivals.
Many Shinto shrines in Japan provide or sell it during the New Year!

Malted rice amasake

What is Needed…
– 3c cooked brown rice
– 1c of malted koji rice. If koji rice is needed…order here

Yield: 4 cups of fermented rice to use as a sweetener or 3 quarts Amazaké drink

Incubation Temperature: 120-140 F (50-60C)

doburoku

Start by cooking the brown rice and allowing it to cool to at least 120 F (50C). Once cooled, stir in the koji rice and mix well. Place mixture into a glass or stainless steel container that will allow an inch of “headroom” to allow for expansion during the fermentation process. Cover container and incubate, stirring every couple of hours to prevent heat buildup. The finished product can take as little as 6 hours with quality, fresh (not dried) koji-kin at optimum temperatures after 6 hours start tasting the ferment to see if the cycle is complete.

When finished the ferment should thicken like porridge with a mild sweet taste. The sweetness will increase up to a point after which it will change and start to become sour. Once the taste is to your liking, place into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 min., stirring frequently. Boiling will stop the fermentation process keeping the amazaké sweet. For a smother amazaké consistency purée the mixture in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate any ferment not used right away. If not, the amazaké will become very sour. A little fresh ground ginger may also be added.

Use the finished product to make a non-sugar sweetener, a beverage, even a simple grog called, Doburoku ( どぶろく or 濁酒 ).
– Fin

We hope you have enjoyed finding new ways of using fermented and cultured foods. See our store for more items like rice koji, spores, and accessories. Store.Organic-Cultures.Com

~ Kefir Cheese & More…

cheese making 101

Today we’ll talk about making living, cultured cheese at home. Cheese can be made with dairy kefir grains or lighter yogurt strains. The process involves several steps, however, the overall procedure is very simple.

It is a basic 3 steps in cheese making…

1. Culturing the milk with a selected strain of kefir or yogurt until the milk separates into ‘curds and whey’.

2. Hanging the product to remove more of the ‘whey’ and to ‘dry’ the curd/fat solids.

3. Enhancing the cheese by forming it, adding dried herbs, and aging it longer, if desired.

finished kefir yogurt cheese

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So Let’s Get Started…

First, start by culturing fresh dairy with the selected culture strain. Milk kefir grains seem to work the best but other types of yogurts may be used. Even different yogurt strains mixed together can form a better end product and add to the probiotic makeup. These include Fil, LangFil, Amasi, or even Buttermilk yogurt type strains.

Allow the milk to culture per directions, most should achieve separation within 24 to 48 hours. After the milk has split into ‘curds & whey’ remove as much of the ‘whey’ as possible leaving the milk solids/fats for the cheese production.
Note: Save the ‘whey’ as a starter for other ferments like lacto veggies. Makes a great drink for children. Save under refrigeration.

kefir cheese making
milk kefir bagged

Next step is to place the milk fat solids into several layers of cheesecloth or porous cloth. Make sure the weave is proper to hold the solids in.

Bring up the corners and tie together with string. Hang this, over a bowl, for 6 to 8 hours or until the desired thickness is achieved. If a firmer cheese is needed then place into the refrigerator and allow the cheese to thicken. The process of refrigeration will pull more moisture out due to humidity controls.

forming cultured cheese

Lastly, is removing the cheese from the cloth and enhancing it further. This is done by forming the solids into a block form, a mold, or mound. Before that herbs and spices may be added to enhance the flavor. A little sea salt and pepper is all that is needed sometimes, but adding herbs like basil or thyme will take it to another level!

If a thicker cheese is wanted, once formed, it can sit longer to firm up even more. By these methods, soft spreadable cheese or harder cheese can be created.

But What About the Cheese Going Bad?

The chance of living, cultured cheese is very small if any. By the process used, this cheese is alive with active cultures that have depleted the ‘food source’ so other bacteria and yeast have nothing to feed upon.
The cheese will be suspectable to mold spores if left out and uncovered.

cheese with herbs

Now Some Fun…

We have living probiotic cheese maybe with or without herbs and seasoning. Now, this can be enhanced by adding other cultured foods or infusions.
A mix of honey infused garlic and fresh cheese sounds like a winner. See how to make garlic honey here.

If milk kefir grains or yogurt culture starters are needed, visit our store for a selection of over a dozen starter types.

Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods…

~ Simple Japanese Nori Condiments ~

Japan condiments nori

5 Fermented Recipes for Classic Sea Vegetable Japanese Condiments

Tsukudani (佃煮) is small seafood, meat or seaweed that has been simmered in soy sauce and mirin.
High osmotic pressure preserves the ingredients.
Its name originates from Tsukudajima, the island (in present-day Chūō, Tokyo) where it was first made in the Edo period. Many kinds of tsukudani are sold. Traditionally made tsukudani is preservable and has been favored as a storable side dish in Japanese kitchens since the Edo period.

Tsukudani can be made with kombu, nori, or wakame seaweeds. It is usually eaten with steamed rice as a flavoring agent since the flavor is very intense (approximately 1 tbsp for one bowl of rice). Finished tsukudani is served chilled from the refrigerator where it takes on a gelatinous texture.

Here are some simple to make Japanese condiments. All of the raw nori seaweed is ground, mixed with other ingredients, and then slightly fermented for 2 to 3 days. Then keep jars in the refrigerator for longer shelf life. We like to use smaller jars like 1/2 pint size for a fresher product and ease of table use.

Make these fresh healthy seaweed condiments to enhance plan rice or other entrees.

– Gohandesuyo, Seaweed Paste

Nori seaweed with shoyu and dashi broth

Simple to make by grinding nori sheets then adding shoyu soy sauce and dashi broth until the desired consistency is obtained. Add a bit of water if needed to make a thick paste.
Mix all the ingredients and pack into jars. Ferment for 2 to 3 days at room temperature then
place in refrigerator.

– Red Pepper, Nori Seaweed Paste

Nori seaweed with chili oil

Make the same as Gohandesuyo with the addition of chillis to your liking. You can buy a premade chili paste or make it fresh. The amount of chili to nori can vary by the type of pepper used and taste.
Add a bit of water if needed to make a thick paste.
Mix all the ingredients and pack into jars. Ferment for 2 to 3 days at room temperature then
place in refrigerator.

– Umebosi Pickled Plum Nori Tsukudani

umeboshi plum tsukudani

This condiment is nice and sweet from the plumbs and contains a depth of flavor from the shiso.

Again make as you would gohandesuyo but now mixed with umeboshi plums/paste and fresh shiso leaf. Mix all the ingredients and pack into jars. Ferment for 2 to 3 days at room temperature then
place in refrigerator.

Yuzu Kosho Tsukudani

Yuzu lemon peel and chilis are added to the basic nori seaweed paste…

Start with grinding the nori sheets and adding yuzu peel and chili to taste. Mix all the ingredients and pack into jars. Ferment for 2 to 3 days at room temperature then place in refrigerator.

Taberu Rayu Tsukudani

Chili oil with fried onions and garlic…

Start by frying off onions in sesame oil then add the garlic and fry till all ingredients are finished. Remove from heat. Now add in the chili oil to form
a thick paste.

The ratio is about 2 parts onions to 1 part garlic and 1 part chili oil. Of course, this can be changed to your liking. A little soy sauce and sugar can also be added. Mix all the ingredients and pack into jars. Ferment for 2 to 3 days at room temperature then
place in refrigerator.

Other flavor types to try…
– Kameya Wasabi Nori Seaweed Tsukudani
– Nori Tsukudani Shijimi(clams) Seasoned
– Yasuda Yakinori Iri Tsukudani (Nori in sweet shoyu)

Try it with different meat, seafood, or othe types of sea vegiables.

Condiments can enhance dishes and provide healthy flavors to dishes. Have fun making these delightful additions to meals.

Happy Culturing! Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods
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~ What is Mongolia Milk Airag and Kumis? ~

airag milk

What is Airag?

Airag is the traditional national beverage of Mongolia. The most important animal of the Mongols is the horse. Horses don’t only serve as riding animals, the mare’s milk also has a special status. A glass of homemade Mongolian airag is said to bring health and vitality. Also known as kumis, it is made by fermenting raw unpasteurized mare’s milk over the course of hours or days, often while stirring or churning (The physical agitation has similarities to making butter). During the fermentation, lactobacilli bacteria acidify the milk, and yeasts turn it into a carbonated and mildly alcoholic drink.

How Fermented Airag is Used…

airag milk

Airag refreshes and sparkles softly on the tongue. It contains a small amount of carbon dioxide and a low amount of only 2% of alcohol. The taste is slightly sour, but quite agreeable after getting used to it. The exact taste depends on both of the characteristics of the pastures and the exact method of production. The beverage is a rich source of vitamins and minerals for the nomads. A Mongolian will normally empty it, but it is also acceptable to just take a sip and return the bowl. To reject the offer right away
would be gravely impolite.

Similar to Isgelen Tarag (Kefir), it is possible, but not as common, to distill Airag into Mongol Arkhi (milk liquor).

Strictly speaking, kumis is in its own category of alcoholic drinks because it is made neither from fruit nor from grain. Technically, it is closer to wine than to beer because the fermentation occurs directly from sugars, as in wine (usually from fruit), as opposed to from starches (usually from grain) converted to sugars by mashing, as in beer. But in terms of experience and traditional manner of consumption, it is much more comparable to beer.
It is even milder in alcoholic content than beer.
It is arguably the region’s beer equivalent.

Kumis is very light in body compared to most dairy drinks. It has a unique, slightly sour flavor with a bite from the mild alcoholic content. The exact flavor is greatly variable
between different producers.

Kumis is usually served cold or chilled. Traditionally it is sipped out of small, handle-less, bowl-shaped cups or saucers, called piyala.

How Airag is Made…

The milk is filtered through a cloth and then poured into a large open leather sack called a Khukhuur, which is usually suspended next to the entrance of the yurt. Alternatively, a vat from larch wood (Gan), or in modern times plastic, can be used. Within this container, the milk gets stirred with a wooden masher or buluur.

leather airag milk
milk fermentation

The stirring needs to be repeated regularly over one or two days. Traditionally, anyone entering or leaving the yurt would do a few strokes. The fermentation process is caused by a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeast, similar to Kefir.
The stirring makes sure that all parts of the milk are
fermented equally.

Traditionally, this fermentation took place in horse-hide containers, which might be left on the top of a yurt and turned over on occasion, or strapped to a saddle and joggled around over the course of a day’s riding. Today, a wooden vat or plastic barrel may be used
in place of the leather container.

Enjoy and Happy Culturing!
See our web store for all your culturing and fermentation needs:
Organic Cultures Store

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