Posts Tagged ‘burgers’

Moldy Mos Burger confirms kōji boom

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The launch of Mos Burger’s new limited edition Salt Kōji Burger on May 24 officially confirms that salty mold is now the flavor du jour in Japanese kitchens. Kōji, or to give it its long-winded name, Aspergillus oryzae,  is a domesticized fungus that has been used in the production of miso, sake and soy sauce for centuries. Salt kōji, made by mixing salt and kōji with water, then leaving it to ferment, is also a traditional seasoning, but one that had rather fallen out of use until it enjoyed a revival in the latter half of 2011.

Who says mold can’t be cute?

According to Yomiuri Online, the craze for salt kōji started off when Komego, a miso store in Fukui Prefecture, started selling it for use as a simple seasoning back in January 2011. Word spread with restaurants around the area using the ingredient, causing it to eventually catch on with the mass media.

It was traditionally used as a seasoning for vegetable and fish dishes, but now cooks are enthusiastically using the ingredient more creatively with meat as well as in soups and sauces. Marinating meat or fish in salt kōji converts the starches and proteins into sugars and amino acids increasing the umami, or savory flavors, of the meat. Though salt kōji can be bought, it’s quite simple to make at home, and plenty of cooking websites have featured instructions (see video) on how to whip up a homemade batch.

Fukui Prefecture, which has been a driving force behind the boom, has now introduced a kōji mascot to highlight the benefits of this versatile ingredient. Kōji-kun is drawn in the image of a grain of rice with some weird stuff growing out of its head, to illustrate the fact that kōji starts out life growing on grains of rice. Kōji is also depicted in cute cartoon form in the manga and subsequent anime of “Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture” a story about an agricultural student who can see and communicate with bacteria.

If you’d like to try out this taste sensation for yourself at Mos Burger, then you’ll have to hurry as there will only be 1 million Salt Kōji Burgers available. Rather than being used as a marinade for the meat, the salt kōji is mixed into a special mayo sauce for a salad topping of crispy nagaimo and edamame.

Japanified burgers on the tourism menu

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Seared skipjack tuna served in a toasted bun with salad, available only in Kochi Prefecture

Would you go travel hundreds of kilometers just to get a bite of an unusual burger? According to Tokyo Walker, the residents of Kuroshio in Kochi Prefecture, Shikoku, are hoping foodies from around Japan will be induced to do just that. At a special one-day event in Ginza this summer they unveiled their katsuo tataki burger at a store selling Shikoku produce. Made with a slice of seared salted tuna, topped off with veggies, special sauce and katsuo flakes, the burger is a regular item on the menu in restaurants in Kuroshio.

Foodie tourism is a big thing in Japan: Several years back, one town was reinvigorated by an influx of tourists keen to test sanuki udon (noodles) on the basis of a popular book on the subject.

Lately, unusual burgers have also proved to be a big draw with travelers. The ramen burger, for example, invented a few years ago, has attracted tourists to Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture. Visitors are keen to sample this original snack, which utilizes fried noodles instead of bread as the burger bun, thought recent events may, understandably, have slowed trade down somewhat.

Others have followed suit. The hotate (scallop) burger, invented in Betsukai, Hokkaido, consists of two giant scallops wrapped and fried in a spring roll casing then popped in a burger bun along with lettuce, onion and a slice of cheese. Though the burger sounds a little odd to us, in the 2010 Gotouchi Gurume (local cuisine) Grand Prix in Ginza it pleased the judges and came first place.

If none of these burgers tickle your fancy, then perhaps you ought to Matsushima Island, Miyagi Prefecture, for a bite of oyster burger. Coated in batter and breadcrumbs then deep fried, the oyster is served between a bun with the usual garnishes. Sounds pretty yummy to us but we’re still not convinced we’d travel all that way just for some original fun in a bun.

If you are that type, though, be sure to book a ticket for Tottori Burger Festa, where you can sample all the local burger meibutsu (signature dishes) in one place.

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