Koji

INTRODUCTION TO PROJECTS

Since we first opened in 2012, I feel the restaurant has continued to evolve and progress. We strive to create interesting seasonal menus that seek out the unknown and thrive on new discoveries. Our Canadian seasons are short, our menu is relatively small and we only use ingredients when they are at their best. The journey has helped us improve and understand whom we are and where we want to go as a team and as a restaurant. Understanding growing periods and choosing products when they are at their peak, allows us to plan our year based on availability, which demands constant innovation from the kitchen. Every Tuesday, the Actinolite team who share my enthusiasm for foraging and my thirst for experimentation will be working on our Tuesday Projects. These projects involve pursuing new ideas through research and exploring different food preparations. Tuesdays will also become the day we connect with ingredients by visiting farms, fisheries, mills and vintners to learn more about sustainable practices.  I can confidently say the knowledge we collect by pursuing our projects will allow us to continue to bring the most interesting, informed, honest Canadian food to the table.

- Chef Justin Cournoyer

Exploring the Enzymatic Potential of Aspergillius Oryzae through Koji


This project is a collaboration between Justin Cournoyer and John Greenwell

 

Written by John Greenwell


THE IDEA

This project is stemmed from an initial conversation that Justin and I had about creating an umami rich product what would add depth of flavour to a variety of mainly vegetable preparations. We were both aware of the tradition of Miso production and consumption in Japan, and we knew that other restaurants had been making their own miso by borrowing techniques from Asian cuisine. All of these products had their genesis in a particular cultivated fungus, Aspergillius Oryzae, that was used to produce a wide variety of products based on the enzymes produced when this mold is grown on a substrate, salted, and then added to other products and allowed to enzymatically digest the protein, carbohydrates, and fats into amino acids, sugars, and fatty acids respectively. The digested products of this enzymatic breakdown offer a new range of flavours for us to explore from an array of well known ingredients that are often considered staple foods in Canada such as dried peas and barley.

 

THE INSPIRATION

Using ingenuity to combat a lack of fresh products during the winter. And mobilizing technique to make sustainable use of products in a different way.

 

INGREDIENTS SIGNIFICANT TO THE PROCESS

Koji is a process of nurturing a mold in order to produce enzymes. The key ingredients are the mold Aspergillius Oryzae and the substrate on which it grows.

 

RELEVANCE

This project is a pathway for thinking about food from a different perspective. It allows us to utilize the staples grains and legumes that have been a part of the agricultural history of Canada in a way that is new for our cuisine. from a chef’s perspective it offers an array of new techniques and flavours that allow us to build new dishes.