Written and illustrated by Misa Ono
I like chicken. I loved it simply pan fried with salt and pepper in bite-size. But now that tastes like something is missing. I know how good pan fried shio-koji marinated meat can taste. What is the difference?
By letting meat sit in Shio-koji, the salt removes excess moisture from the meat. It will get firm. The enzyme from Koji breaks down meat protein into amino acid. It brings out umami because amino acid is the source of umami. The enzyme gets into meat fibers as it breaks down protein. It makes the meat tender, and that is good for digestion and absorption of nutrients. Therefore, koji brings out more flavors and makes meat softer than plain salt. Meat will be well-seasoned inside, so it tastes good even when it is not hot. That means it can be a great side dish for packed lunch!
Here is how to prepare. Marinate meat with shio-koji, that is 10% of the meat weight. Put it in a plastic bag, release air and tie it at the top. Let it sit in the refrigerator. That’s all. It is the same way as we preserve vegetables. You can also wrap the marinated meat in plastic wrap and then put it in a plastic bag or a sealed container. To prepare it quick, you can chop the meat into pieces. But it tastes better marinated not chopped because the meat doesn’t loose moisture too much.
Note that shio-koji scorches easily. You might as well rinse off the shio-koji before cooking. It is okay to do so because the meat is already well-seasoned. Instead of pan frying, you can steam the meat with mixture of sake (or wine) and water. It becomes moist and soft. Stew and curry taste more delicious with shio-koji marinated meat. You can mix shio-koji into hamburger or gyoza patties.
I recommend letting meat sit in the marinade overnight. If you don’t have time, start cooking by marinating first and then use it. Some people say “I like to let it sit for 2 to 3 days.” It depends on your preference. I would suggest marinating meat with shio koji right after you buy it. I have heard that my friend’s child sometimes says “I want to have Misa’s meat for tomorrow’s meal. ”Is that flab around my tummy?” No, no, she meant Shio-koji marinated chicken, which I cooked for her and she liked it. She calls it “Misa’s meat”. It seems like Misa’s meat has been getting popular among my friends ‘children.