#kojifest2019 is an ongoing series of events hosted by culturesgroup. Expect to learn, ask questions, and taste and enjoy great food and drink.
Each #kojifest2019 event includes different guest presenters and participants sharing and sampling different fermented and handmade foods, most made with a koji-centric item such as miso, shio-koji, or tamari. The events focus on methods and examples of how koji can elevate the taste and nutritional benefits of local and regional foods. Through rapid, or traditional longer term methods koji can be used to enhance taste, ferment food or preserve taste for a later time – sometimes years. Koji and other microbes are used throughout the world in many cuisines to create local, regional and sustainable food and drinks.
Koji is the most commonly used word to describe Aspergillus oryzae, a malted mushroom type of microbe that is an enzymatic powerhouse. There are other types of koji that are also members of the Aspergillus family that have their own unique characteristics. Koji has been used for thousands of years but recently with inspired intent to create opportunities for people to share the pleasures and benefits of food and knowledge of how things are made. You might not know how to cook, or even want to, but the artistic, semiotic, cultural, and ethnological background of everything shared during #kojifest2019 will inspire you to become more curious and become more informed.
Presenters will provide tastings of foods that use koji or other fermentation techniques. These include misos, shoyu, shio-koji and how the enzymes created by koji can quickly or over time create incredible tastes and nutritional benefits.Some things will be lightly dressed with a probiotic rich sauce, others will be deeply flavored misos or sauces that highlight a fresh ingredient or can be eaten on top of or in cooked grains, beans, vegetable based proteins and sweet desserts.
The menu for this event is wild. Mallory O’Donnell, Aline Bessa and Ken Fornataro have been foraging, fermenting and preparing for this event that will include these things (maybe subs since some stuff is sustainably foraged):
- Mushrooms Fermented in Maple Sap with Wild Herbs
- Wild Greens Pkhali
- Porcini Black Trumpet and Leek Nuta with Homemade Miso, Vinegar and Wild Seed Mustard
- Wild Mushroom and Mushroom Miso Tapenade
- Sweet simmered miso
- Black beans with smoked mushroom bacon
- Tucupi miso soup (a fermented yuca broth, szechuan buttons (jambu), cilantro and spring vegetable
- Nut cheese using miso made with sour tapioca starch
- Yucca rolls (vegan pães de queijo)
- Puba (fermented yucca) pudim with miso caramel
- Pickles (kumquat and carrot, shio-koji cucumbers, tempero baiano style mushrooms)
- Rice, garnished (eggplant chutney, date and ginger douchi, cashew, garlic, herb pesto)
- Mushroom Tea
Two very talented contributors of new and exciting things to the ongoing food conversation are joining Chef Ken Fornataro for this event.
About the Presenters and Organization
Mallory is a wild food writer and enthusiast, sometime cook and dabbler in creating food based on sustainable and local resources. Inspired by exposure to the worlds working-class cuisines, Mallory cooks globally-influenced cucina povera with an emphasis on homemade staple ingedients, fermentation and simple, traditional techniques. Emphasis is on the wild ingredients reflective of the terroir of the Northeast US, and on creative applications involving neglected or ignored wild ingredients such as bark, roots, wild seeds and spices, pollen, and tree leaves, branches and sap. Many of these open up exciting new avenues when combined with traditional preserving and fermentation techniques, an increasing role in which is being played by koji. Mallory documents food experiments as well as native and invasive wild foods at @mallorylodonnell on Instagram.
Aline Bessa is a fermentation enthusiast, exploring connections between the techniques she's learned in her home country, Brazil, as well as here in New York, with local and sometimes foraged ingredients. In her cooking, fermentation is primarily used as a means to uncover the complex flavors of the ingredients, sometimes not accessible at first sight/smell/taste. In addition to that, preservation techniques help to keep her favorite tropical flavors available year-round, which is particularly important for riffs on Brazilian dishes and cocktails. Finally, fermentation is an important ally in her constant battle against food waste – food byproducts are usually turned into new products in her house. Aline is getting a PhD in Computer Science at NYU and she brings her scientific acumen to all her kitchen experiments.
Ken Fornataro has been fermenting and preserving grains, legumes, fish, meat and available local resources with Aspergillus since the 1970sAt age 19 Ken was appointed Executive Chef of The Hermitage in Boston. Soon after, he found himself ducking out the back door to Erewhon, where he befriended Aveline and Michio Kushi, fellow macrobiotic practitioners and advocates William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi to address world hunger and sustainable through agricultural practices traditional Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cultures, as well as Julia Child, and other Boston based chefs like Leo Romero and Madeleine Kammon who together taught him traditional Russian, Japanese, Mexican, French and whole food cooking, preservation and fermentation techniques - including kefir, amasake, miso, jiang, hishio, shih, shio-koji, soy sauces, rice wine, tempeh, seitan, fish sauces, vinegars, breads, sweets, many kinds of pickles, and vegetarian and vegan foods.
Ken has served as Executive Chef, Sous-Chef and Garde Manger of many restaurants and food interests in Boston and New York. He has worked for Margaret and Franco Romagnoli, Bernard’s in NYC’s Lower East Side, Rebecca’s on Charles Street in Boston, Michél Guérard, Marcella Hazan, Petrossian, Troutbeck, and as a private chef throughout the world. He has also engaged in other businesses including directing for profit and non-profits, one which contributed to developing a cure for HCV, and making treatment advances for infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS. Ken has authored 32 publications on science and research, primarily abstracts of research protocols of novel compounds for human study for people with HIV/AIDS as well as associated opportunistic infections. His contributions are documented in books and films and historical archives.
culturesgroup is about food and drink making, preservation, fermentation, science, cultural history and communication through sharing dishes, photography, art, writing, scientific papers, personal oral histories, and ideas. We focus on traditional and novel techniques in cooking, fermenting, brewing and preserving techniques using koji, yeasts, and the tasty bacteria that make pickles