You can use fresh mushrooms in this recipe, but I find that the flavor of dried mushrooms is superior in this application. With dried mushrooms, the flavor is pure mushroom umami. Use this tasty paste like mushroom broth; we use it in anything that needs a little extra kick. It’ll be your secret when people rave about your cooking. This paste also makes a wonderful mushroom tamari. Once you have this made, you’ll find it’s a super sauce for so many recipes. I love to mix a little of this paste with regular miso when making a soup.
Yield: about 1 quart.
Fermentation Type: Combination
Primary Fermentation: 1 to 2 months
Total Time: 1 to 2 months
- 2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 cups rice koji, or barley koji
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon unpasteurized white miso
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil. In a bowl, pour just enough boiling water over the mushrooms to cover them. Soak them for about 5 minutes, or until they’re fully hydrated. Wring out the mushrooms, as you don’t want them too wet. Set aside the soaking liquid.
- Place the mushrooms in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mushrooms are finely chopped, but not mushy.
- Break up the koji, if necessary, and add it to the food processor. Pulse one more time to mix it in.
- Add the salt and the unpasteurized miso to the food processor and process until evenly mixed. The consistency should be a bit like toothpaste. If you used dried koji, you may need to add some of the mushroom soaking liquid.
- Rinse the inside of your fermentation jar or crock with the mushroom soaking water, making sure to coat the entire surface. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt into the jar, coating the sides and the bottom of the vessel.
- Spoon the mushroom mixture into your fermentation vessel, doing your best to remove as many air bubbles as possible.
- Cover with a small piece of unbleached cotton cloth or parchment paper cut to fit the diameter of the top of your vessel. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of salt along the edges of this cover to seal any gaps. Weight the mixture with fermentation weights. For these pastes, use equal weight to the weight of the ferment.
- Cover the entire vessel with cloth or paper, securing it in place. This paste will be ready after 1 month, but I find that the flavor becomes perfect after 2 or more months.
- When you’re ready to harvest your tasty paste, open it up. You may need to scrape off the top surface of the miso until you get to something that looks nice and rich in color. You can either strain off the tamari (the liquid pooling on the top of the paste), or you can mix it back into the miso and eat it as is. Your tasty paste may be chunky; if you prefer a smoother paste, process it in a grinder or food processor. Store it in an airtight container. The tasty paste will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Learn about more uses of Koji with these other articles:
This recipe is adapted from Miso, Tempeh, Natto, and other Tasty Ferments by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, published by Storey Publishing.