Mastered sourdough? Nerd out over macroscopic mold

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Using koji-cultured steak and replacing salt with miso in baking are a few ways to get complexity into your cooking. Photo by Peter Larson.

Koji is a mold that survives by growing on its food source, secreting enzymes that perform special tasks such as breaking down starches into simple sugars. Koji does the hard work, kickstarting fermentation, while Jeremy Umansky and Rich Shih reap the rewards of creating complex boosts of flavor. Their book is “Koji Alchemy.”

Honeysuckle, chestnuts, and grapefruit is how Rich Shih describes the characteristic aroma of koji. Rich and Jeremy Umansky suggest how to put it to work in their book, “Koji Alchemy.” Photo courtesy of Chelsea Green. 



Evan Kleiman