Rice and Shine!
Our Secret Ingredient
The various coronavirus lockdowns gave us some time to think about our environmental impact, the ways in which we could improve and how to set ourselves apart. As a Japanese restaurant, relying too heavily on imports, we wanted to make a change, so we decided to alter the way we purchase certain ingredients and create these in-house as much possible. Fast forward a few months, and we are now one of the only restaurants in London making koji!
For us, koji was the natural place to start. It's a fundamental ingredient in Japanese cuisine, used to kick-start the fermentation process in soy sauce, sake, mirin and miso, and as a seasoning in marinades or pickling solutions. Our homemade koji gives an incredible depth to our dishes which we were not able to achieve with koji shipped from Japan. And, imported koji is pasteurised, which means it loses all its amazing health benefits, so making our own was an easy choice.
We use koji in many of our dishes, including in the marinade of our Black Cod, to make soy-koji for our Bluefin Tuna Nigiri and in the salad dressing of our Cured Heirloom Tomato Salad. We also use it to make amazake, a low-ABV, sweet drink, which acts as the base for a few of our cocktails or as a natural sweetener in our desserts.
Take a look at our menus and see how we evolved all our favourite Dinings SW3 dishes.
How It's Made
After a few zoom lessons with a Koji master, we took the dive and started making our own. Initially, there was a lot of trial and error, but we are now immensely proud of our koji!
Making koji is a relatively complicated process that involves washing, heating, cooling Koshihikari sushi rice. Once the rice has reached the desired temperature, we stir in the fungus, ensuring an even coating. After the fungus has been added, we place the mixture in our hot cabinet (made by Masaki himself), and monitor the temperature and humidity closely - requiring precision and control. If the temperature drops or spikes at any stage, we will have to start the process from the beginning.
After about two days, our koji is ready to use in our dishes or as a rub to tenderise meat and fish. It's an extraordinary ingredient, adding another element to every dish that it's used in.