Chefs Without Restaurants

Chef Jeremy Umansky on Koji and Miso

January 15, 2020 Chris Spear Season 1 Episode 16
Chefs Without Restaurants
Chef Jeremy Umansky on Koji and Miso
Chefs Without Restaurants +
Help us continue making great content for listeners everywhere.
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript

This week we have a special throwback mini-episode. In 2018 I had the opportunity to attend the StarChefs Congress in NYC. One of the workshops was on koji and miso with Jeremy Umansky of Larder in Cleveland, Ohio. I was supposed to be writing a wrap-up editorial for StarChefs, which I did, but it was never used. Instead of taking notes, I had recorded the audio to refer back to. Now, I want to share it with you. I have reached out to Jeremy, and he’s on board. 

Jeremy will be releasing his first book, Koji Alchemy, on May 6, 2020 with co-author Rich Shih of OurCookQuest





Get the Chefs Without Restaurants Newsletter

Visit Our Amazon Store (we get paid when you buy stuff)

Check out our websites (they have different stuff) &

Like our Facebook page

Join the private Facebook group

Join the conversation on Twitter

Check our Insta pics

Founder Chris Spear’s personal chef business Perfect Little Bites

Watch on YouTube

If you want to support the show, our Venmo name is ChefWoRestos and can be found at If you enjoy the show, have every received a job through one of our referrals, have been a guest, , or simply want to help, it would be much appreciated. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

Support the show
Chris Spear :

This is Episode 16 of the chef's without restaurants podcast. This episode is a little different. I want to be releasing some little mini episodes throughout the week that aren't our interviews. So a couple of years ago, I believe it was October of 2018. I attended the star chefs Congress in New York City. And the past couple of years I've been asked to write editorial wrap up pieces on many of the workshops that I attended. So one of the workshops I attended was held by Jeremy Szymanski of larder in Cleveland. And he's doing a lot of work with Koji and mizo. And it's really interesting stuff. So I took the workshop. And while I was there, I recorded the audio on my iPhone, so that I could listen to it and take notes to write the wrap up piece, which I did. Star chefs actually didn't end up running the wrap up piece. I've been sitting on that for a couple of years now not knowing what to do with it. Now Jeremy has a book coming out with co author rich sheet of our cook quest, and the books called Koji alchemy, and it comes out on May 6 2020. And you can pre order it right now through Amazon. And I always felt it was a shame that I had this great audio and wrap up editorial I'd written and it never went anywhere. So I reached out to Jeremy and asked him if I could release the audio. I was not intending on releasing audio. So there are some issues. people asking questions. You don't always get to hear the question. I have edited some parts out. So if there's some weird context issue, it might be because I edited out some bad audio there. There is a little echoing but I still think it's worth listening. The episode runs about 27 minutes and you can just hear about some of the really interesting things going on right now, in the food world centered around Koji, and miso. Jeremy's using a lot of his food that would traditionally be food waste, using leftovers, things like motza balls to make them lots of all miso, which I think is really interesting. So I'm going to upload the audio to this, and hopefully you enjoy it. I'm gonna put links in the show notes so that you can find links to both Jeremy and rich. I really love what they're doing. And I think this is interesting stuff. So let me know what you think. I'd love to hear comments and feedback, especially about whether you would like to hear more things like this that aren't necessarily just interviews, but if we have really cool topics to share and just kind of something to get you through the rest of the week. So enjoy the episode.

Jeremy Umansky :

Keep in mind, this is moldy rice. Anybody ever smell a piece of charcuterie covered in mold. like think about what that smells that smells like your basement and your dog after they've been running through the forest. So kind of come up and smell and taste it and like register what it smells and tastes like it to me doesn't taste or smell like what I would anticipate moles smelling.

Unknown Speaker :

They already think is going to have a lot of fruity notes to it. Like although I've been through a lot of people say tropical fruit, they'll say things like pineapple or papaya honeysuckle if people say champagne or green apple, those are all kind of descriptors for your resume, which is it's also going to be really sweet. And keep in mind that is really just rice and mold. We didn't have sugar that was all brought out from the dead now there is the black one to me tastes like pickled black trumpet mushrooms. That's that's my descriptor for that. And so that's that's got that partners right that's citric acid producer, I also feel it has more of a mushroomy kind of aroma flavor to it so much like a shots are elevated, right away chanterelles kind of smell and the taste apricots, that's a common descriptor for them. Glad trumpets are really perfumey right? So I kind of like enamel more and I like that, that along with that flavor. So I'm going to start cooking some things. And yeah, I've got some beans here. The idea was to kind of walk kind of at least walk you through the Misa making process and show you how easy that is. So that anybody wants to get their hands dirty, and make some nice sale. We've got some diesel making stations, and miso is always best made with friends. This is a key, you know, food. So if anybody wants to come up and get their hands dirty and start mashing up some beans, and we're gonna throw some Koji in there. So when when I started working With these these foods, we wanted them to be able to be made by if I needed a dishwasher, someone that didn't really have color training or knowledge of this to be able to make it, we wanted them to be able to do it. So while there are specific ratios that are like time honored and tested tradition, we essentially settled on for me, so making one to one ratios. So we do one part protein, whether it's a beam or a sausage or a monster ball to one part coaching. Sometimes we mix that all out and just like for the massive army, so I really took the monster balls, I let them dry out on a sheet tray overnight, not till they were shrunken, but just tacky crumble and then dusted them with a little rice flour and cozy sports. So actually for that I actually grew the Kodi on the mom's balls. But for me, so like this, you know, one to one, you name it. What To be you love. That's it. We're just gonna throw some code in there and I shall get to it. Now the other piece of Nisa making, you know, there's many different styles of me so and we don't really use the word mizo because that does denote Super cific styles of the food that come from Japan. We make these we call them amino pastes. All right, it was a full of amino acids are superseded, umami, and they're really complex. And that allows us to encompass everything from like Jane, China on her older daughter Jane from the Korea's, or Lisa from Japan. These are all amino pays. So when we make them suddenly like to eat a little bit more lactic and brighter than others, so we use a lower salt salt concentrations, the lowest will go on salt is 5% by weight. And what that means is after the beams and the Koji have been mixed together, We wait. And then we take that weight and figure out 5% of it. And we add that much salt and mix it up again. But sometimes we have to add moisture. Like if you look at these these pieces are actually like these will be like perfect moisture right here. So if you kind of look at it a little more moist in Plato with me, okay. Essentially what we had here if you guys are doing this is your sweet you do 100 ratio is going there to one to one. Yeah. big chunks. Yeah. Yeah. And you can wait it out. You can approximate it out by volume like, here's the whole thing if you're a little under on the company side, it's just going to take longer to get your final product. And here's the thing about Elisa to like, show styles like like the white sweet nieces you know, traditionally in Japan when the three months that you may like it after two weeks. You may want to let it sit for five years, you can do all of that. The great thing about this is, when I started doing this work, it was like how to do it this way. And these are the only results you're going to end up getting. But we started tasting some ways. Ruby selimiye says like some of the red ones that would age like one to three years traditionally, and I really liked them to be brighter. They still had all this great new money to them. But I really like the flavor profile with a little lactic taste on them. So six months I started using them. Like just because something says you have to do it one way doesn't mean there isn't an ability to do it. So that's what's interesting about this is what you like, and more importantly, at your restaurants, what your guests are going to like and come back for. That's what you have to find. And let's be frank like we're in America, our palates are very different than where these foods traditionally come from. So you your your guests may like the less age stuff some of your guests me like the alternating stuff, it depends on what you're doing and where you are. So, alright, so this is exactly where it should be you guys are getting, let's get you some examples. So at this point two that was started in July. Oh the matsumae. So that was a day. And we've been using, we've been using it for a couple months now at this time, for different things like different classes and whatnot. Don't clean up completely because I want you to when you pack them up, so into something, that agent you do this, you throw it in there, you don't want air bubbles in here, you're gonna have some, but traditionally, it's rolled into little balls and like thrown into a vessel. So like getting in here really good. And only fill it up whatever that's one use for you. So only fill in about two thirds of the way up. Because once you have to do next is you have to weigh it down. He's so nice air exposure. Okay, so you will get mold growing on you. So you will get flies that land on there and lay eggs and you will have maggots on your knee. So a lot of traditional producers, when they have maggots, they just mix them back in when it ups the protein content in a new sale and get more umami production. Okay. The great thing is fruit flies which are most attracted to these foods. Most of the time are not carriers of pathogens. It's other species of flies that are so most of the time fruit flies are just covered in wild geese and you're going to get a lot of alcohol production out of something. So to kind of keep that in mind now, if that makes you uneasy, keep a better watch on it. Keep a fan blowing over your nieces commodify some landing on like it's something that these are a reality of its traditional German, traditionally fermented and produced foods Like so this would be even be a little too much in there, but that's okay. So when you've got this, the next thing they do is coffee filters work great. Press one onto the surface plastic wrap can work also to press it onto the surface, kind of leave a little bit of exposure on the edge, and then you need to put a weight on this. So something like this, we could put into the core container in here that maybe got some beans and then to weigh down whatever it is, um, you're not you're not trying to you're not you're not trying to kill it. All right, you know, if you put the weight in, and it starts to like, start pushing all the nice oh, that's way too much weight. What is enough weight to keep it even in down, because this is going to go through a two stage screen. It goes through the fermentation period, which is driven by microbes, different species of lactobacillus and all sorts of different microbes that do that those are single celled bacteria and then the next processes automatic process that's driven by the enzymes produced by the front guy by the mold. Alright, so the auto lytic process happens it's happening a little bit during the fermentation stage but really happens after during the fermentation stage who's who's fermented foods before what happens? bubbles gas, right? If you make alcohol and things carbonated, you're making sauerkraut you can sit there and look at the jar and there's bubbles coming up in agar, kosher dill, pickles, all that sort of thing. So the weight is on there to literally as those bubbles are being produced, that it's just enough weight that it's going to kind of push the bubbles out and get them out of there. Right Right, right and really young measles like weeks will might have some of that and they'll be more lactic driven than they are in a mountain. But the weight keeps that from happening. The weight also gives you there's a byproduct of you somebody again, if anybody knows what tomorrow use, should you see it? It's it's the head thing because it's the gluten free soy sauce. Well, it's not a, it's not, it's an amino sauce made from an amino paste. It's not a true amino sauce. Because what happened is all the liquid that's in here, over time, and through through different breakdowns of different things in here, that lip liquid is going to fall out a suspension and the waste and a push on it, and you'll get a liquid on top. And that liquid is tomorrow. So it's the liquid that's drawn off of when you make a mean. So this game at all, you pulled it off, and he used it. So let's pass this around. can use a traditional, like German style crop with the weights? Yeah, you bet core containers. I mean, we use all sorts of things. So I'm gonna pass this around. If you had your spoon did not put your finger on top and try it. That's an amino sauce much like a soy sauce, but it's made from our leftover rye bread. way that was a byproduct from when Kenny was making some ricotta and We had some tomato water that we just threw in there too. So, yeah. We just throw those labels on there so that when someone's like, Oh, you packed up a product like, at least they see we're trying in a mental pathway like we do have a full spread asset plans out larder, we make so many different foods, so many different ingredients, though our asset plans are very basic generic. So like, if the health department comes in and says, Oh, well, you do have a has a plan for like a traditional soy sauce. But you don't have one for this one. You may I can say, Oh, I'm sorry. Like, I'm going to contact the state and request Americans. You know, we're trying to work with him as much as possible, but it's like, every little time I change an ingredient like if it said use garbanzo beans instead of soybeans, I need a new answer plan and he was just like, I'm still using a being like, come on coming in play. You can still want to do so that. Yeah, we saw that right away. Yeah, we've got a merchandiser case, you can just open the door and grab that. And we'll pack out things like she'll just he asked about Cheeto, which I totally forgot to bring some mazaki ratio. But in the packet, I break down how to make it. It's super simple. You take some Koji, you take some then just plain cooked rice, and you mix them together. And for shield Koji, you add salt, we try to even once again 5% solar at minimum, you can go as high as 1520 if you want and for the sheer you allow everything just to kind of sit there, you add a little water, but everything has to sit there and let it ferment and bubble up and you end up wish to coach to make amazake you hold it at a much warmer temperature. So the amylase that's in your home attack is very sweet. And that's what they use as the basis for making sock a not alcohols because there's a lot of sugar in it and use get in there and do all that sort of economic Zaki amylase that enzyme is most defective in about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. So what we'll do is we'll make mix equal parts of cooked rice, koji rice or barley, whatever you haven't grown on, in a jar, fairly cover with water. And we'll hold that in a merchant in a water bath at 130 degrees because the circulators vary a degree or two hour down. We don't want to go over that one before, because then we see literally degradation and breakdown at the end times versus peak performance. And you're almost IPS ready in like 12 to 24 hours or so. So sorts of things we use amazake in the hydration our library. We, when we make our astronomy, you know we cure the meat with salt, and we put Amazon in the bags, we seal them up and you know, a lot of times work on a meeting to walk in that way like we are a whole host of applications you can curate Your own document really smooth and it's like this just awesome beverage that you can sit on you can make alcohol and vinegar with it like it's there's a tons of tons of uses. So if I didn't come from anything and plastic um, I mean yes no like we use glass we use plastic we you know kind of the same approach that we take with you know, no food waste, you know when somebody finishes a tub of cornstarch like we'll turn that into a fermentation so like it's, it's there we haven't noticed any issues so so I'm kind of getting towards the end and kind of wanted to like get into some of this stuff. So I'm going to cook up this veal so that we can try it. So here I have wrong veal that I grew up on. So, this more or less now it is different. I want to keep that in mind. This is more or less allows us to replicate the drying process in a much shorter time frame. When I first started doing this I was doing a lot of back and forth work with a bovine anatomist Dr. Phil bass he was was certified angus beef at the time. And we eventually did like a coke off taste test. And we did some Koji culture beef up against some dry aged wage of different time makers. And the consensus is like while it is different, the 48 hour coaching product tastes wise and aroma and everything texture is pretty much on par with a 30 day dries up somebody after 48 hours, and we don't have a boss and we don't have to cut off all the costs and it doesn't take 30 days, we're not sitting on product and having to monitor and maintain refrigeration and all that stuff. So So that's kind of what we have here. And this is one of the first slides Our techniques that I started working on developing, going back a few years and things like this is like kind of morphed into. This is the vegetable charcuterie that we're making out in order now. So this is a beat. We start off with one of these, we cook them off, either roast them or boil them, we then smoke them, to give them that meaty essence, right? So my goal isn't to necessarily make food for vegans. My goal is to essentially make all foods delicious for carnivores. Okay, so, these are people I like them, they spend a lot of money with us, so I'm very grateful for that. But my drive isn't necessarily Please eat again, it's to introduce more vegetables to carnivores. So you know, we we smoke these then they can cure salt, sugar, we don't use carrying salts because it's a vegetable we don't even care and then after that we inoculated them with With a mold, so I thought I had rice flour here, but it doesn't look like I do salt. Yeah, sure. I totally would. And then maybe you don't even need a cure. It might be the only cure it just allows us to be like spot on with the cure, right so it allows me to cure a beat like these guys to two and a quarter percent. I've spliced some of this so that everybody can taste it. Yeah, there's no golden mute. Sometimes we use red beads. You know, we've we've done a pop up that Kenny and I did you know, we're trying to see if Larter was even viable. We did like these pastrami carrots that we did with a similar technique. kindness and we're still use Koji in it. So, you know, there's a host of different different things that you can do. But if you kind of look like this, like texture, This looks like locks kinda it gets in the tooth to it and like it's really cool because after it is salty like this is meant to be short Korea so you slice it in and you don't eat a lot of it one mouthful, but after the salt subsides it really fucking umami. Like most people will come up to you and they're like, it tastes like a neat Yeah, I just grabbed a piece. Yeah, so like this. Alright, so this kind of looks ma s. So this is my talkie that got blanch chewed off a little bit. I'm going to show you some of these with this is like our next move like creating like a cook salami or like a burger or something. That's that song. I really want to try this Bishop who really been the test for drawing this stuff out. It's kind of Probably so I got to figure out some sort of maybe ag are my gardener This is my talk emotions that are coaches me growing on and like all grown together so yeah with mushrooms Yeah. Yeah tapioca. So this I just seen in rice flour and in the Koji veal packet you have is like the exact detail process for doing this and like I said, lowest common denominator we want to keep things as simple as possible. So, we do this we literally we take some rice flour, how much I don't know I'm going to say throw like a cup, maybe a couple handfuls or rice flour on here. I'd sprinkle some spores How much? Well half a teaspoon is enough for two pounds of rice. So I waited maybe like a teaspoon and a half for this field here. Then I mix everything up so it's nicely coded and then when we do the setup for that is super simple. He set up a tray like this. Imagine these were just dusted. We put them on, perhaps you take a fish, and we cut out a lot. So it's just like a frame. And we put it over this. Fill a bottle of water around the whole thing in plastic. All right, how much water you put in the bottom on our cup, do you come to water, whatever, we just need some some humidity to come up. And in the plastic. Once again, just like I said, we're going to code you poke a couple holes. Same thing here, we put a couple of holes, and then we hold in 70 to 90 degrees, maintain that humidity for most of the knees, we're definitely pulling out like 30 to 36 hours. You know, just it is I mean, like if you hold it too long, it can spoil. Yep, at that temperature. So we say 70 to 90. So at the lower end To give that range, you have more protease production. At the higher end of that range, you have more analyst production. So if you're intending to do things that are super savory, be at that lowering end of that temperature range, it'll take longer for the cookie to grow, but it's producing more compounds that produce the production of amino acids. So glutamates and that sort of thing. At the higher range, you know, your your amylase production is better. So better, better breakdown of starches and sugars. So if you're making something like a shield Koji, or an Amazon coffee or you want to make Sati or rice vinegar, that sort of thing, you know, be at the higher than that, because it's going to be more beneficial. So can you still use that 16 year old for how long you can keep it? Um, yeah, I mean, essentially with this stuff, we based it off Have you ever made prevented charcuterie from it to me like a bat worst or injury or whatever, like you, some people will definitely three or four days at 70 degrees or, you know, maybe even a little higher. So it's the same philosophy and with this though, with the food safety consultants we worked with our our aim was this is safer because it's a whole muscle car. So we don't have anything that's ground up Excel, like anything that is surface dwelling is essentially okay, because I'm doing this and anything that's pathogenic on the surfaces, and he is now being killed right before our eyes. So, you know, it's a weird protocol for establishing safety. Yeah, kill stuff as the end result. Yeah. Yeah. So I think we're like just about done and super limited on time and as we go, so I just jammed a whole bunch in for you guys. We normally do this out larder as a minimum of a two hour class. So I'm going to put some of this up. We're going to get it going. For you, I want you to at least be able to taste some of this meat because it's, it's pretty fantastic. I like it. One thing to keep in mind if you decide to culture some of your need, your scale of cooking is dramatically different. Okay, so what was the medium for you is now potentially Well done, because of how the enzymes have interacted with the structure of the proteins. And this means it can toughen up and still be juicy. So you want to cook lower temperatures for a little bit longer time using this stuff. And notice that your scale of doneness your desired doneness has shifted downward. Yes, Sears so much quicker that we can easily start to burn. And part of that is because there's rice flour and Koji and you've got free sugars that have been produced galactose and altos amongst them. So when you're searing something, it can burn, and you just got to be really careful about that. We'll do roast beef we did like this huge, huge 17 bucks for a sandwich so, so much at our place. We did kind of put together this awesome grilled cheese steak. We did like a whole roast beef that we carry the Koji on and then cooked it in the oven. So like you could you could do it that way like it doesn't it doesn't have to be a pan sear. We took the whole top round when we cut into two pieces of trays and stuff but but yeah, you're married for around it doesn't matter the casual girl and anything like a nothing you know triggers classic spices that are like even antibacterial right like things like cinnamon and garlic and chillies. They have the coaches like Bring it on. Excuse outgrow right over to you can reach you can look smell taste. It smells good news, good tenants from Indonesia. And then a genuine another could have been when you go in when you went in for ECG introduced another microbe that was on the spoon or in the air and they just threw things out of balance like that it happens and it can happen that quickly. So you know, yeah, like I said, like all those classes of things if it looks good, tastes good, smells good. chances are they're probably as good. So that's, that's a 10 into fermentation and cooking. Yeah, so you can care this at one and a half percent solid. You don't have to do it at the tuna quarter. We do because we'd like to serve this alongside like a ribeye, charcuterie. You know, a piece that is a piece of that, and some pickles on a plate. So it's cool to kind of mimic those salt contents. If I wanted to. Take my youth and make them all day and make Romanian turkey Yeah. With a call. Like they should be okay. There's a lot of people that are are going through the nationalization process and then growing Koji on corn. So, I mean, you essentially could make your tortillas and then grow some Koji on it and fry them up again like a double crusted. And they might even puff like keto. Because the mycelium Mac on the outside of those tortillas could be so strong and how they're like a like a puffing history like a layer in the dough. might get some really cool things if you drop that a fryer. wouldn't be so easy. Oh yeah. Oh, you don't want to over cook. Yeah. Right. So like if you're making a nice Oh, can be just as simple just taking mixing wise corn and mix it with some coverage in salt and you're you're there. You could take you know, a lot of niso people like that. So use quote unquote a sci fi So, so it's a little bit of an activity. So that's activity going and they'll put that into the patch. You know, that's, that is a, you know, one of the things that's that's recommended because it does help you jumpstart with like a really cute straightforward microbial set that's reflective of this desire, flavor and texture, you want the end result. So that always helps. She was super active, you can leave it out. It's meant to stay out amazake is what you want to leave. Alright, so it's a it's wrap-up time... Transcribed by

Podcasts we love