Shio Koji Pickles Recipe

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Shio k?ji

Shio means salt, so this is simply salted and soaked rice k?ji. It is liquid like a rice porridge. It’s great for cooking and pickling with as the enzymes in k?ji break proteins into amino acids that get turned into glutamate – the umami factor. You can buy already prepared shio k?ji, but it is quite often heat-treated for logistics and shelf life, so its power is completely nullified. Best to make your own, which is very easy once you have rice k?ji.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Fermentation time: 5+ days

Ingredients and equipment:

  •  1 L (34 fl oz) jar 
  • 200 g (7 oz) prepared rice k?ji
  • 50 g (1-3/4 oz) salt
  • 250 ml (8½  fl oz/1 cup) lukewarm water


  1.  Break up the rice k?ji and rub until aromatic.
  2.  Add the salt and water and stir to combine.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the jar, cover with the lid and set aside.
  4.  Stir once a day. You may need to add water on the second day if all the water has been absorbed – just add enough to cover.
  5. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, fermentation could take 5 days to 2 weeks. Taste now and then – it should be sweet and salty with a pleasant smell. It may start off too salty, but fermentation will sweeten it somewhat. When you detect the sweetness, pop the jar into the fridge for use. It will keep for at least 6 months.

Shio k?ji pickles

Shio k?ji is an easy vehicle for quick pickles. I’ve left carrots in there for a long time and when I’ve pulled them out they glowed bright orange, which is freaky really because it’s all natural! This makes them pretty spectacular, and you’ll feel like telling everyone ‘look how orange this is – its natural!’ Well, maybe they won’t appreciate it as much as you do, and they may take a bite and just say that it’s kind of sour. Or they might go crazy for it.

Eating a few pieces of this with a cup of green tea while working at my computer is a happy thing for me. Not as happy perhaps as working with a glass of wine and olives, but you can’t do that all of the time … not really.

The golden ratio with shio k?ji for any vegetable is 1:10 – this is the general rule, but in saying this I just use whatever I need to cover the vegetables, keeping in mind it’s quite salty.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Fermentation time: 20 minutes, to 1+ days

Ingredients and equipment:

  • zip-lock bag or shallow dish with lid
  • carrots, Lebanese (short) cucumbers or green beans
  • enough Shio k?ji to cover your vegetables


  1. Prepare the vegetables: peel and chop the carrots into angular pieces; slice the cucumbers into diagonal pieces; blanch the green beans.
  2. Fill a zip-lock bag or shallow dish with enough shio k?ji mixture to cover the amount of vegetables you have. Slide the vegetables in there, making sure to coat them completely. (I like to use a zip-lock bag because it uses less shio k?ji and I can kind of massage them a bit.) Transfer to the fridge.
  3. The carrot can remain in the fridge overnight or for a few days – longer if you like. The cucumber will be quite quick (20 minutes or so) and the green beans will take a couple of hours.
  4. Rinse the shio k?ji off before eating.

Notes:You can pretty up the carrots by adding a dash of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

While the green beans are marinating, mix some shio k?ji with black sesame seeds and a sprinkle of chilli flakes, to taste. When your beans are ready, rinse, choose a nice plate, pour the dressing over and mix. Yum.

More From Ferment for Good:

Cover courtesy of Hardie Grant Books

Recipes excerpted with permission fromFerment For Goodby Sharon Flynn, published by Hardie Grant Books May 2017, RRP $29.99 hardcover.

Inspiration for edible alchemy.