What is Koji? An Easy Explanation for Elementary School Students


What is Koji?

Koji is made by adding a tiny living organism called “koji-kin” (koji mold) to rice, barley, or soybeans. Koji mold has the ability to transform the starches in rice or barley into beneficial components that are good for our bodies.

Koji looks white and fluffy like cotton and has a slightly sweet smell. This koji is used to make miso, soy sauce, sake, and other fermented foods.

The Power of Koji

Koji has three main powers:

  1. The power to break down starches
  2. The power to create umami components
  3. The power to increase good bacteria

Koji mold breaks down the starches in rice or barley into sweet glucose, which becomes the source of sweetness in miso and soy sauce. Koji mold also breaks down proteins to create umami components, which is the secret behind the deliciousness of miso and soy sauce. Furthermore, koji mold has the ability to increase good bacteria. When making miso or soy sauce, the growth of koji mold helps prevent the growth of bad bacteria.

How Koji is Used

Koji is mainly used in the following foods:

  1. Miso: Made by mixing soybeans and koji, then allowing them to ferment.
  2. Soy Sauce: Made by fermenting soybeans and wheat with koji, then soaking them in salt water.
  3. Sake: Made by fermenting rice with koji.
  4. Amazake: A sweet and nutritious drink made by fermenting rice with koji.

Koji plays a crucial role in Japanese food culture and is essential in making many traditional foods.

In Summary

Koji is a white, fluffy substance made by adding koji mold to rice or barley. Koji mold has the power to break down starches, create umami flavors, and increase good bacteria. These powers of koji are used to make miso, soy sauce, sake, and other fermented foods. Remember what you learned about koji today!

Koji is an essential part of Japanese food culture. Many of the foods you eat every day likely contain koji. The next time you have miso soup or soy sauce, think to yourself, “Oh, koji was used to make this!” and remember the important role it plays in creating these delicious flavors.