Written and illustrated by Misa Ono
I like sake, music, Java sparrows, the Japanese kimono, and koji dishes. I would be so happy if I could just eat koji dishes while drinking sake, wearing a kimono, listening to my favorite music, and sitting next to a singing Java sparrow.
Koji mold likes water, enzymes, comfortable temperature—approximately 35 ℃—starch, sugar, amino acids, and minerals. Fresh koji contains a bit of water inside and is alive; however, once the water evaporates completely, koji goes dormant. It will keep dormant for about a year and remain alive.
If you give this dormant koji some water and food such as starch and sugar at 35 ℃, it starts to be active again. Maybe I can shake my butt with my favorite music, but koji does a much greater job. It goes into food and creates enzymes. Enzymes turn protein into amino acids and starch to sugar. Amino acids create the flavor umami that the Japanese love. It is tasty, it keeps your skin and hair young, and it is necessary for good health. The sweetness that results from the growing koji makes food tasty. It gives you energy to activate your body and organs. Not only that, as koji enters the food the enzymes break down cell walls in the food, which makes the texture tender and easier to eat. It makes the nutrition in the food easier to digested and absorb into the body. As long as we eat, isn’t it better to absorb the nutrition fully?
To sum up, if you provide koji with a comfortable environment, it willingly produces a lot of enzymes that make foods tasty and tender, turns the nutrition of foods into something beneficial to the good health and beauty, and makes the nutrients easier to absorb. What an amazing mold! It is totally different from me who can just shake my butt…
It is commonly said that Japanese people are humble and modest. Koji also has been working hard for us from a long time ago; however, a lot of Japanese people don’t know about it. This may be so because it is so tiny and invisible, but I believe Japanese mold is also humble and modest! Koji is so lovely and beloved, isn’t it?