November 22, 2013
I met a wonderful couple on Instagram, who I visited on my last trip to Japan. When they cook, they always use local ingredients prepared with such care and style. I look forward to their dinner picture everyday and I often leave comments telling them how great their meals look.
One day a couple of weeks ago, I found a package propped up against our front door. Yes, it was a care package from them!!!
Look at these authentic treasures, almost impossible to find in the US! Items like smoked takuan called iburigakko, dried squid powder for okonomiyaki, red shiso powder, dried daikon, Egyptian spice. All rare products, even in Japan.
This is a rare koji called oname, not well-known even in Japan because it’s only produced in Chichibu-city, Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo.
Oname means ‘lick’. In the old days, people couldn’t help but lick their chopsticks after a meal with oname. It’s addictive. This from personal experience.
My grandma was from a neighboring city of Chichibu. Every time she visited her relatives, she brought back this product and I saw the jar on our table. She used it for everything: rice, vegetables, toast, noodles. After she passed away, our family didn’t really care much for oname. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve tasted it. It brings back so many memories of my grandma.
Making oname is much the same process as shio-koji — mix with salt, water and leave it to ferment. Oname koji is more like umamiful miso with lots of barley and beans. This umami condiment is good with all kinds of food — even by itself or with sake, shochu, tequila or whisky. It is an optimal food to accompany drinking.
Here’s the recipe in case you ever come across oname koji.
1. Mix together oname koji, salt, and filtered water.
2. Keep it in a dark cool place, mix it once in every 3-5 days.
3. After 2 weeks, it’s done! You can keep it in the fridge for about a year or more.
I am enjoying the oname with raw vegetables:
Also mix this miso with mayonnaise and just touch of grated garlic and use it as an sandwich spread, it makes a rich deep Umami flavor.
You can also substitute oname koji for regular miso. Enjoy koji!