Shio Koji-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

A hot oven and a rub of shio koji all over the leaves gives these Brussels sprouts extra flavor and crispiness.
A hot oven and a rub of shio koji all over the leaves gives these Brussels sprouts extra flavor and crispiness.

Have you discovered shio koji, the darling ingredient of so many chefs?

Maybe you’ve spotted it at a Japanese store, given it a quizzical look, then moved on.

Next time, pick some up and get cooking.

Shio Koji is rice inoculated with a specific mold commonly used to make soy sauce and miso, then mixed with water and salt, and left to ferment.

Available in the refrigerator section of Asian markets, it comes in whole rice grains, pureed or liquid.

It tastes salty, though less so than miso, with a light sweetness and a moderate pickled sharpness, as well as a slight funkiness.

If you’re wondering what to do with it, pick up a copy of the new “The Modern Larder: From Anchovies to Yuzu, a Guide to Artful and Attainable Home Cooking” (Roost Books), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Michelle McKenzie, a food writer and professional cook who was formerly the program director and chef at 18 Reasons, a non-profit community cooking school in San Francisco founded by Bi-Rite Market.

This marvelous book will introduce you to 58 ingredients, some familiar and some less so, and show you ingenious ways to use them through more than 260 recipes.

Take barberries, with their lovely tart flavor, which McKenzie likes to highlight in “Lemony Fried Rice with Greens and Herbs” and “Vitamin C Tea.” Or black garlic, which she showcases in “Black Lentil Hummus” and “Pan-Seared Rib-Eye with Black Garlic Ghee.” Or pomegranate molasses, which she says gives the perfect touch to “Slow-Cooked Romano Beans with Tomato and Pomegranate Molasses” and “Pomegranate Tea Cake with Almond and Rose.”

Whole-rice shio koji.
Whole-rice shio koji.

An easy way to get acquainted with shio joji is with her recipe for “Shio Koji-Roasted Brussels Sprouts.”

Shio koji is a natural tenderizer that can be rubbed onto meat or poultry. It also adds a jolt of umami and depth of flavor to sauces and salad dressings. Its natural sugars also make things brown faster.

The sprouts right out of the oven.
The sprouts right out of the oven.

That means when you rub Brussels sprouts halves with a combination of shio koji and olive oil, and roast in the oven, you get sprouts that are wonderfully blistered with crispy, papery edges plus a salty, savory, meaty taste.

A sprinkle of chives and freshly zested lemon overtop adds the perfect touch of mild onion and citrus brightness for a final flourish.

Discover the wonders of shio koji, along with so many other ingredients, in this illuminating book.

Who doesn't love Brussels sprouts that get wonderfully blistered in the oven?
Who doesn’t love Brussels sprouts that get wonderfully blistered in the oven?

Shio Koji-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

(Serves 4 to 6)

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through the stem end

3 tablespoons shio koji puree (see Note)

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving

Fine sea salt

1 small lemon

Flaky sea salt

Finely chopped chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Once hot, preheat a rimmed baking sheet for at least 5 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the shio koji puree, 1/4 cup olive oil, and a small pinch of fine sea salt; really use your hands to coat them well — think of it as a light massage in a quick marinade — doing your best not to separate too many leaves from the heads.

Take the hot pan out of the oven and line with parchment paper; spread Brussels sprouts in an even sparse layer. Roast for 15 minutes; flip sprouts, rotate the pan, and roast 9 to 12 minutes more, or until dark brown.

Use a Microplane to shower lemon zest all over the sprouts. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and chives (if using). Serve immediately, topped with a drizzle of olive oil.

Note: Shio koji can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian markets, especially Japanese ones. If your shio koji has whole rice grains, simply puree in a blender or mini food processor until a smooth saucy consistency.

From “The Modern Larder” by Michelle McKenzie

More Brussels Sprouts Recipes to Enjoy: Honey-Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

And: Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Arugula

And: Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Pork in Black Bean Sauce

And: Asian Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries

And: Bradley Ogden’s Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts

And: Chinese-Style Brussels Sprouts with Hoisin Glaze

And: Deborah Madison’s Slivered Brussels Sprouts Roasted with Shallots or Green Garlic

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2 comments

  • I am off to the Mountain View Farmers Market and will stop at the Japanese market to get some of the shio koji! It sounds amazing!

  • Hi Kristy: Have fun playing around with it. I expect a full report! πŸ˜‰

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