“Growing koji on meat” or “Coating meat with koji”?

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Growing koji on meat or coating meat with koji? That is the question.

It seems like that growing koji on meat to mature it in shorter time is being global trend. Although it certainly stimulates my nosy personality, I have been wondering how it is different from simply coating meat with koji powder. Shouldn’t it work in the same way? And doesn’t it achieve the same effect in easier and safer way?

     I assume that the main purpose of growing koji on meat is to let it produce protease (protein degrading enzyme) during its growth and then let the protease work on meat to draw umami. If my assumption is correct, I thought I should be able to have similar, if not same, effect by coating meat with koji powder. So as an experimental freak, I decided to give it a go.

My first experiment (ribeye and fillet)

    I first purchased two pieces of meat, beef ribeye and beef fillet and coat them with soybean koji powder. I used soybean koji as it is much more protease-oriented than rice koji. I wrapped the meat with cling film and leave them to rest for a few days in fridge to see what effect koji has on them.

    However, I realised I have chosen a wrong portion! Ribeye and fillet are both softer and tastier portion and even without koji it is tasty anyway (so koji’s capability won’t be apparent). 

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Coated with soybean koji powder
Wrapped in cling film
3 days later
Grilled for comparison
Soybean koji
Soybean koji powder

My second experiment - top side block

So let’s start again. In my second experiment, I purchased a top side block. I salted it lightly with shio-koji, coated them with soybean koji powder, wrapped it with kelp (as in Kobujime) and finally wrap the meat with cling-film to prevent it from drying. The idea is that shio-koji will draw water from meat, which helps soybean koji’s protease works better. Soybean koji’s protease should break the meat protein into amino acid which should increase umami flavour of meat. And then kelp piece should absorb water from meat and, at the same time, it should give plant- based glutamic acid (source of umami) to meat in exchange. Theoretically it should work, I think….. Finger crossed🤞🏻 I left it for 4 days. I made roasted beef and beef tataki with them. And it WAS VERY TASTY😍!!!

Conclusion

    Well, in order to make the objective conclusion, I know I should really compare the result No 2 with the meat grown with koji. However, I am too happy with the texture, flavour and taste of my tataki-beef from my experiment No 2 and I have completely lost my fighter’s spirit to move on….     So if there is anyone local who would like to continue my experiment I am happy to donate my soybean koji powder (comparison for control group)!
Wrapped with kelp piece
Still coated with soybean koji powder
Soybean koji powder scraped

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Haruko

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