The All-Purpose Wonder Seasoning: Shio-Koji

July 27, 2023

Koji is malted rice used in the fermentation process for miso, sake, and soy sauce.

Shio-koji has only natural flavour and colour, and contains no additives and no MSG; only a mixture of malted rice (koji), salt (shio) and water. Used in Japan for centuries as a seasoning or ingredient. Known to be an all-purpose seasoning. It works in any style of cooking.

Shio-Koji gives food umamiUmami is a pleasant savoury taste that makes food moreish. It’s often referred to as the fifth taste, rounding out salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. More specifically, it is a measure of the level of glutamates in certain ingredients. It also acts as a tenderiser. Its rich enzymes break down both starches and proteins, which makes it suitable as both a fish and meat marinade. 

Adding it as a cooking ingredient adequately seasons your food removing the need for other seasonings. Shio-koji can be simply poured onto meat or fish as a marinade or added as a sauce or as a finishing touch. It can also be used in place of salt by substituting two teaspoons of shio-koji for every teaspoon of salt. For meat or fish, the volume to use is 10% of the weight of the meat, fish to be seasoned. You can see how good it is on chicken tempura fritters, and pork chops.

Shio-koji can be kept for 6 months in a refrigerator or it can be kept for up to a year in the freezer!

How to Use Shio Koji in Different Ways: 

  1. Marinating meat or fish: Shio koji can be used as a marinade to tenderise and flavour meat or fish. Simply coat the meat or fish with shio koji and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours. The longer you marinate, the more tender and flavourful the result will be.

  2. Seasoning vegetables: Shio koji can also be used to season vegetables. You can either brush the shio koji directly onto the vegetables or mix it with a little oil to create a paste. Let the vegetables marinate for a short period of time before cooking or grilling.

  3. Making sauces and dressings: Shio koji can be incorporated into sauces and dressings to add depth and umami flavour. Mix shio koji with other ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, or citrus juice to create a flavourful sauce or dressing. Adjust the quantities of each ingredient according to your taste preferences.

  4. Baking and fermenting: Shio koji can also be used in baking and fermenting. It can be added to bread dough or used as a starter for fermented foods like pickles and miso soup. Follow specific recipes for these applications to ensure proper usage.



Glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate (MSG) is widely believed to be bad for your health. Take-aways and manufacturers boast that their food contains no MSG. However, even with such a bad reputation, there is no scientific evidence to show that it has a negative impact on the body. 

-   “It’s ridiculous,” says Ken Lee, a professor, and the director of food innovation at The Ohio State University. “It’s wacko, it’s weird; it’s not true that MSG has any kind of toxic or causative role in food allergies.”

Glutamates have been used in Japanese cuisine for centuries and don’t have a large anti-MSG following like the western world. The life expectancy in Japan is on average 4 years longer than the western world.

However, shio-koji is a natural form of umami and contains no MSG. Shio-koji the clear alternative to MSG for people who avoid it but would like to enjoy umami food.


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