Japan’s rich water resources and moistly climate have developed culture of fermentation over centuries. The oldest record of fermented food in Japan dates back to Nara period(729-749), various recipes of fermented foods such as vinegar pickle and vegetables pickled in sake lee were recorded in Engishiki, an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers, written in Heian period (794~1185). Sake, miso, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin (fermented rice wine) are foundations of Japanese cuisine, which are made from koji. We can organize fermentation workshop to learn about koji and the key seasoning of washoku, Japanese cuisine.
Learn about Key Seasonings of Japanese Foods
Japanese Vinegar is fermented from rice to add sourness in washoku dishes like sushi and namasu. It is made by adding acetic acid bacteria to sake brewed from rice, which is less acidic than malt or wine vinegars. The preserving property of food is improved by dipping into vinegar.
Miso is one of the representative seasonings of Japan, made by fermenting and maturing steamed or boiled soy bean by adding koji and salt. It is often used for miso soup and stewed dishes. It is also characteristic that the type of miso varies largely among regions.
Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
Soy sauce is made by fermenting, maturing and pressing “moromi,” which is koji made with soy bean and wheat diluted with salt water. It is used for a wide variety of dishes including sashimi, grilled fish, stewed dishes and pan-fried dishes. Soy sauce is divided into five groups: koikuchi (dark), usukuchi (light), tamari (rich), sai-shikomi (twice-brewed) and shiro (white).
Sake is also one of the essential seasonings for washoku. The major effects of sake as seasonings include killing the smell of ingredients, bringing out the umami of foodstuff and improving the flavor, and adding sweetness.
Mirin (Sweet Rice Wine)
Mirin is a fermented seasoning made with steamed glutinous rice and rice malt, and by maturing for 40 to 60 days. Compared to sugar, its sweetness is softer, and it also has the effect of killing the smell of foodstuff. It is also used to make the surface of food glossy for dishes such as fish teriyaki.