Koji Kin: The mold that makes Japanese people so healthy
No doubt you’ve all heard about how great koji kin is.
First of all, it seems that there are a few misconceptions surrounding what Koji Kin actually is.
Koji comes in two forms.
The first form is what is more commonly referred to as simply koji, but to distinguish it from koji-kin it’s referred to as Kome Koji.
Kome means rice in Japanese.
Koji is steamed rice that has had koji mold spores cultivated onto it and then incubated for 40-50 hours.
Koji-kin is the actual mold. The scientific name of this magical mold is Aspergillus Oryzae.
Over these 40-50 hours, the enzymes break down the rice’s starches and proteins, allowing both sweet and umami flavors to be released.
Once the koji is ready, it can be used in the creation of many Japanese condiments such as Miso, Sake (Rice wine), Tempeh, Soy Sauce, Amazake, Shio-Koji (Umami Salt), Mirin, etc.
Pretty much no Japanese meal is complete without koji rice.
Health benefits of Koji Kin
The health benefits of koji-rich foods are numerous, including having probiotic properties.
Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria with studies showing these live bacteria help protect against disease and enhance immune function.
Also, the fermentation of soya beans using koji to create miso is known to increase the levels of isoflavones which have been identified as dietary components that are effective in the prevention of cancer.
Many researchers believe Koji is the reason why the Japanese have the highest life expectancy (83 years) in the world and in general, remain in good health well into their final years.
In Japan, many grocery stores sell koji kin, and a variety of koji products such as amazake, shio koji, shoyu koji, koji-pickles, koji-sweets, etc etc etc. Just browsing was so mesmerizing!
The only downside is that getting your dose of koji might be hard to find if you’re living in America.
I haven’t had much luck finding it at any stores around me.
If you can’t find any in your area, you can buy koji online. It’s allowed as long as you’re not importing large quantities for commercial use.
A 1 lb. bag, which is 453 grams of koji spores is enough to make 18 quarts of amazake, 6 pounds of fresh koji for light miso, or 2 gallons of soy sauce.