Shio Koji Tofu Scramble

Why post a tofu scramble recipe when there’s so many good ones out there to choose from already? Shio koji. Shio koji. You’ll just never go back to nutritional yeast again after having worked with shio koji in scramble-land. The “cheesiness” it imparts is more subtle yet more pervasive with more “je-ne-sais-quoi” than nooch will ever have.

What the hey is shio koji anyway? Koji is the culture you start with when you want to make miso, tamari, sake, amasake or shoyu. Shio koji is koji grains that have been open fermented in a salt brine. The result is a salt seasoning that imparts a lot of depth and umami to anything it touches. The amount you need varies depending on the strength of the salt brine so what I suggest here may need adjustment depending on what shio koji you make or source. For this recipe, I used a 6% salt brine and barley koji with the final ferment unblended (so just the liquid portion after shaking it up went into the scramble).

Should you want to try this but not have shio koji around (nor have any interest in keeping bubbling ferments on the top of your fridge), then it can be purchased on-line here.

Yield: 3 generous servings

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup shio koji
  • a 400g block of firm or extra-firm sprouted tofu
  • 1 small carrot, finely grated
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • a tiny knob of fresh ginger root, finely grated
  • a 3/4″ piece of fresh turmeric root, finely grated
  • a pinch each of thyme and sage (or other herbs you like)
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons virgin sesame or olive oil

What you do:

  1. Press the tofu for about 20 minutes, wrapped in a clean kitchen towel under a heavy pot, to discharge the excess water.
  2. In a bowl or large measuring cup, mix together the shio koji, grated carrot, minced scallion, ginger root, turmeric root, herbs and black pepper.
  3. Roughly crumble in the tofu and stir to distribute the veggies, herbs and spice throughout.
  4. Let sit, covered, for at least 30 minutes. You can also cover it and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, bring to room temperature.
  5. Heat a heavy non-stick (read cast-iron) pan over medium heat. When hot, add the oil and then the marinated scramble mix.
  6. Cook on medium for 15-25 minutes, flipping occasionally with a thin spatula. The scramble will go yellow as the turmeric reacts with the heat. For the first little while, it will be pretty juicy and there won’t be any crust action happening. As the liquid portion of the vegetables, shio koji and tofu evaporate, the mix will start to stick and crust. Feel free to turn the heat down (or not) to get the balance of crust (or not) and juiciness (or not) you crave.
  7. Serve over rice, pasta or potatoes. Sprinkle with nori flakes or a splash of fresh lemon juice (or both!) if desired.

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