Friday, March 31, 2017

Shio Koji Paste Accelerated Bresaola

After multiple successful executions of growing koji-kin on charcuterie to accelerate the drying process, I needed to know how well prepared koji would work. 

Sliced Curry Koji Paste Cured Beef Heart
Months ago, Chef Andrew McLeod got in contact with me to find out more about using aspergillus oryzae to accelerate the dry aging process. He asked me specifically why I was growing the spores in rice flour on the meat instead of just rubbing prepared koji on the surface. Honestly, I didn't know the answer. This question lingered in my head for a while, so I decided to give it a shot. 

Curry Koji Cured Beef Heart
Prepared koji is a medium that is already packed with proteases, enzymes that break proteins down into amino acids. So if you're focused on depth of flavor, it only makes sense to introduce as much as possible.

Salt Cured Eye Round Ready for Koji Paste Application
For a charcuterie application, a paste that would adhere to the meat's surface made the most sense. I went ahead and processed Jasmine rice koji with curry powder and 3% salt. Since the bresaola I planned to use was already salt cured, I only needed to add just enough salt to keep the rub safe.

Every surface of the Wagyu eye round of beef was coated with approximately a 1/8" layer of koji.

To contain and keep the paste in contact, wrap the coated bresaola in a few layers of cheese cloth.

One end of butcher's twine from the tied bresaola was brought through the cheese cloth to hang the meat. If you try to hang the meat by the cheese cloth, it will undesirably slump. 

Curry Koji Accelerated Bresaola
After 12 days of drying, the bresaola met the recommended weight loss requirement. This was 9 days ahead of the expected. When I cut into the meat, it was moist all the way through. The consistency of the center is similar to a prosciutto. The darker ring you see in the picture is closer to what you'd find in the center of a traditional bresaola. Also the koji coating was still moist and not dried out. The curry in the koji didn't penetrate very far, but offered a nice compliment to the depth of the beef flavor.

Let's talk a little about the other big advantage of the accelerated drying situation. Since the charcuterie is curing for a shorter period of time, that means the environment required is a lot less strict. For the most part, you don't need a curing chamber. "Cave" conditions with low humidity works well. A true game changer!

At the end of the day, this is another way to leverage the power of koji enzymes to yield a delicious piece of charcuterie. It is definitely easier to execute than the growing aspergillus on the surface method. I'm guessing that the softer texture may go hand in hand with the process. I'm not sure because I've only done this once. If you happen to have more experience, please reach out and share what you've learned.

As always, please share your discoveries to keep the ideas bouncing. 

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