Koji Fermented Rice Dinner Plan

fermented rice koji dinner plan

Koji Fermented Rice Dinner Plan

How to Create a Menu: Focus on an Ingredient

There are many ways to come up with a dinner plan, and one of the most fundamental ways is to center your menu around a central ingredient.

Think of it like Iron Chef (a cooking competition TV show popular in the 90’s and 2000s, originally from Japan) – except you get to pick your special ingredient, and figure out how you want to showcase it.

Fermented Rice aka Koji

For this dinner plan, I was inspired by koji, a type of fermented rice inoculated with mold. Koji is used to make soy sauce, miso, sake, mirin, etc.

“Inspiration” in this case was a confluence of two events:

  1. I had stumbled upon a recipe from Just One Cookbook for Shio Koji Chicken. I actually hadn’t heard of koji before, and didn’t know it was responsible for so many of the Japanese condiments that I know and love, until reading that recipe. At this point, I just filed it away in my brain, because I wasn’t feeling inspired to hunt for this mysterious ingredient.
  2. Then, on a recent visit to the farmer’s market, I saw a stall, Aedan, selling all kinds of miso and SHIO KOJI. Somehow the serendipitous machinations of the universe put this ingredient right in front of me! I decided to take the leap and bought Aedan’s shio koji and sagohachi pickling sauce.

Koji Fermented Rice Dinner Plan

With my precious special ingredient in hand, I set off to make my dinner plan, leaning heavily on recipes from Just One Cookbook.

fermented rice koji dinner plan
Meal inspired by Japanese fermented rice

Voila! Shio Koji Chicken, Simmered Kabocha with Shio Koji , and Sagohachi Pickled Vegetables, served with a Japanese short grain rice (both the traditional and practical choice). Every dish features koji fermented rice – except for the plain rice of course.

shio koji chicken
Shio Koji Chicken

You can find Just One Cookbook’s recipe for her Shio Koji Chicken here. Having never had shio koji before, I had very little expectations for what this would taste like, besides vaguely of umami. Like many others, I will fail to describe the taste in words. It does have a special umami flavor, with a little hint of sweetness. I found the flavor extremely tasty, and will add this recipe to my weekly meal rotation.

shio koji kabocha
Simmered Kabocha with Shio Koji

Simmered Kabocha with Shio Koji – also another one of Just One Cookbook’s recipes.

Actually, my dad grew these kabocha! He had given me a bunch the last time I visited.

Japanese quick pickles
Cucumber and Carrot Quick Pickles in Sagohachi Sauce

The Sagohachi Pickled Vegetables recipe was from Aedan’s pamphlet and site. In addition to cucumbers, I used both orange and purple carrots for the beautiful colors.

While my Japanese isn’t so sharp, I am able to read enough kanji to be mystified by its name – “sagohachi” translating to “three-five-eight”. Turns out that the name comes from its ingredient ratio of 3 parts salt, 5 parts koji, 8 parts steamed organic rice. Seems to be a winning ratio because these quick-pickled vegetables were delicious!


I thought all these recipes were fantastic tasting and easy to make, so I’ll be adding it to my recipe rotation, providing I can get my hands on the special ingredient: koji. Perhaps one day I will make the leap to make my own…but that’s a topic for another day.


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