Miso and Koji Party at the Lace Mill

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On a sunny Sunday in October, we hosted a special culinary event—a miso-making workshop and koji tasting reception with Koichiro Kawasaki, master miso-maker from Fukui, Japan.

Koji is one of the major ingredients for sake, miso, and other quintessential Japanese treasures. It is the starter used for the fermentation and brewing process, made by inoculating rice with koji culture.

Fresh koji, showing long threads of the culture

Although koji has been around for hundreds of years, it was not commonly used as a stand-alone seasoning until recently. For the last decade or so, a marinade made by further fermenting koji with salt and water (shio-koji) became extremely popular in Japan.

In the meantime, a curious thing happened here in the U.S. A handful of chefs and foodies have started experimenting with dried koji as a rub for steaks, claiming it gives the meat a deep flavor resembling that of dry-aged steak. A quick search would turn out many videos and articles relating to this technique.

It is fascinating to witness this culinary evolution of koji in these two cultures, highlighting the significance of the term used to express both the microbial realm and human achievements.

In celebration of this cultural exchange, we reached out to Marukawa Miso, a family-owned and operated miso maker founded in 1914. Their store-manager, Koichiro Kawasaki, is an energetic 35-year-old with passion for well-being of the global citizens and the environment. He came to the Hudson Valley to build a bridge between his network of conscientious food producers of Japan—and us.

Watch the video of the miso-making workshop, read a detailed instruction on how to make miso at home, and check out the recipes from our menu.

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