Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation

Jeremy Umansky & Rich Shih

The first book devoted to processes, concepts, and recipes for fermenting and culturing foods with koji, the microbe behind the delicious, umami flavors of soy sauce, miso, mirin, and so many of the ingredients that underpin Japanese cuisine.

Koji Alchemy chefs Jeremy Umansky and Rich Shih ― collectively considered to be the most practical, experienced, generous educators on the culinary power of this unique ingredient ― deliver a comprehensive look at modern koji use around the world. Using it to rapidly age charcuterie, cheese, and other ferments, they take the magic of koji to the next level, revolutionizing the creation of fermented foods and flavor profiles for both professional and home cooks.

Koji Alchemy includes:

  • A foreword by best-selling author Sandor Katz (The Art of Fermentation)
  • Cutting-edge techniques on koji growing and curing
  • Information on equipment and setting up your kitchen
  • More than 35 recipes for sauces, pastes, ferments, and alcohol, including stand-outs like Popcorn Koji, Roasted Entire Squash Miso, Korean Makgeolli, Amazake Rye Bread, and more
Author, Jeremy Umansky is a co-chef/co-owner of Larder Delicatessen & Bakery in Cleveland, Ohio, a from-scratch Eastern European deli focusing on the use and promotion of local and wild foods that was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as the Best New Restaurant in America in 2019. Umansky is as a foremost expert on koji and fermented, preserved, and foraged foods and works as a consultant on the use and creation of these foods and ingredients. Follow along on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter: @tmgastronaut & @larderdb

Articles written by and about Umansky’s work have appeared in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, and Saveur, among other outlets. Umansky has given a TEDx Talk about koji and has been teaching classes and giving lectures about it and other fermented foods for many years. Umansky’s own writings can be found regularly on the pages of Edible Cleveland.

Author, Rich Shih is one of the leading culinary explorers of koji and miso in the United States and an in-demand food preservation consultant, helping chefs to build their larders and leverage fermentation to decrease waste, and offering ideas with which to experiment. Shih offers both public and private workshops across the United States to share koji knowledge. In addition to working with koji and fermentation, Shih is the Exhibit Engineer for the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) based in New York City. His blog, OurCookQuest, provides a welcome environment for cooks of all experience levels to learn, share knowledge, and exchange ideas.

“Koji Alchemy is empowering and does much to open the door to further creativity and innovation. . . . I can’t wait to see and taste the next wave of koji experimentation it inspires.”

― Sandor Katz

Recent Koji Articles



Douchi are commonly referred to as ‘fermented black beans’ in English and are most widely seen in dishes that contain ‘black bean sauce’. Douchi is a chinese style of bean prepared using koji, specifically Aspergillus egyptiacus but at Larder we use A. sojae.

Koji-Cultured Venison Charcuterie

Koji-Cultured Venison Charcuterie

It’s late fall and that means that my friends who hunt are out harvesting wild game. This is one of my favorite times of the year to eat due to the fall hunt. Pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, and of course, venison.

What is Koji?

What is Koji?

Koji has a long and varied history. After domestication around 7,000 BCE on the Korean Peninsula or in China, it was realized that it could transform the unfermentable long chain starches in rice into simple fermentable sugars. It was also realized that it could do the same for the complex proteins found in beans by turning them into extremely tasty amino acids.

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