Shio Koji Recipe (Marinade)

Shio koji is a traditional Japanese condiment used for seasoning or marinating. It is becoming increasingly popular because of its taste and its high enzyme content. Thanks to these enzymes, shio koji magically transforms the food it touches.

This mild, salty, and slightly sweet sauce is a real flavour booster! Shio koji belongs to the same family as miso and soy sauce. However, unlike the latter, it can be ready in just a few days.

In this guide, you will find out:


What is shio koji?

Used in Japan for centuries, shio koji has gained popularity in the West in recent years due to the increasing interest in fermented foods.

Shio koji is a fermented marinade prepared with only three ingredients: salt, water, and koji. It is also called “salted koji” or “Koji Marinade“.

Shio koji’s main ingredient is koji, rice colonized by the noble mould Aspergillus oryzae. Koji is also the basic ingredient for miso, soy sauce, and sake.

Shio koji is an “express” fermentation of koji. A tasty product can be obtained in only one week! Compared to miso, which usually requires at least 6 months of fermentation, shio koji is almost instantaneous.

Shio koji can take many forms. The most common one is a thick sauce with a porridge-like consistency and a creamy white colour. You can also dilute the shio koji and crush it to make a more fluid and creamy sauce.

Shio koji
This is your flavour booster!


What does shio koji taste like?

As is, shio koji has a salty, umami taste, reminiscent of soy sauce. However, it also has slightly sweet and floral notes, because of the koji it contains.

Lemon, onion, or garlic can also be added during fermentation to create an even more flavourful shio koji.

Why is shio koji a flavour enhancer?

Shio koji is used to enhance the deliciousness and “umami” flavours of foods. To understand how it works, you need to delve into the science of taste!

Some molecules, such as proteins and starch, are too large to be captured by our taste buds.

The magic of shio koji is that it contains a large number of enzymes. These enzymes can break down large molecules into smaller ones. These new molecules can more easily be caught by the taste buds, creating new flavours!

For example, shio koji contains “protease” enzymes that can break down meat proteins into smaller molecules called amino acids. It is the amino acids that are responsible for giving the meat its flavour and umami!

Shio koji also contains “amylase” enzymes, which convert starch into simple sugars, making it easier to caramelize food.

Shio koji also affects the texture of meat, making it incredibly juicy and tender. It also firms up the flesh of fish and seafood.

Rice koji
Rice koji blocks


How to use shio koji?

There are two ways to use shio koji: as a substitute for salt, or as a marinade.

If you want a smoother consistency, you can puree it in a blender. You can also dilute it with a little water to the desired consistency.

Using shio koji instead of salt

In cooking, shio koji is used to replace salt in recipes. Just as you would use soy sauce, you’ll enjoy adding it to broths or sauces to enhance the flavour. Shio koji can be added at the beginning of cooking or when seasoning.

Using shio koji in marinades

The magic of shio koji unfolds when used as a marinade, as time allows the enzymes to do their work.

As explained earlier, the different kinds of enzymes will transform the ingredients to make them more tender and flavourful.

Check out our examples of shio koji marinades for more information.

How to make shio koji?

Making shio koji at home is very simple: you mix the three ingredients and wait!

In practical terms, the first step is to get koji. Although it is possible to make your own koji from koji culture, it is very easy to buy dehydrated koji.

The second step is to combine koji with water and salt. The mixture is left at room temperature for 7 days and stirred once a day. The shio koji will thicken slightly and develop its flavour.

After that, the shio koji can be stored in the fridge and is ready to be used!


Shio Koji Cup

Shio Koji Recipe (Marinade)

Learn how to easily make shio koji at home! This lacto-fermented koji marinade will become your favourite ingredient and replace soy sauce in your fridge.
No Ratings
Preparation Time 15 minutes
fermentation 7 days
Servings 2 cups




  • In the clean jar, break the koji into small pieces.
  • Add the water and salt and mix well with the clean spoon.
  • Close the jar.
  • Let it ferment at room temperature for 7 to 14 days.
  • Every day, mix thoroughly the ingredients with the spoon. The koji will thicken and develop a sweet, fermented smell. Once the desired taste and texture are achieved, store in the fridge.


Shio koji can be stored in the fridge for at least 6 months.
Have you tried it?Share and tag @revolutionfermentation!


Examples of shio koji marinades

How do you marinate meat with shio koji?

Proteins such as chicken, beef, pork, or tofu work particularly well with shio koji!


  1. The day before, cover the protein with about 10% of its weight in shio koji. Spread it out evenly. If desired, add spices or inspiring ingredients.
  2. Let it marinate for 1 to 24 hours in the fridge.
  3. Wipe off excess shio koji, or rinse.
  4. Cook as usual.

Protein marinated in shio koji will grill faster. Keep an eye on the cooking!

How to marinate fish with shio koji?

Fish and seafood firm up quickly with shio koji. Marinate for about 30 minutes before cooking.

How do I marinate vegetables with shio koji?

As with meat, marinate your eggplants, mushrooms, and other vegetables in shio koji a few hours before grilling. You won’t regret it!

You can also finish cooking your stir-fried vegetables by adding a little shio koji to the pan to increase depth and flavour.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I buy shio koji?

Shio koji can sometimes be found in Asian specialty grocery stores. However, it is not easy to find!

Luckily, shio koji is easy to prepare with dehydrated koji.

Can you put less salt in the shio-koji?

The amount of salt added to shio koji can vary between 5 and 15% of the weight of the other ingredients. Our recipe contains 12% salt, which makes a well-balanced and salty marinade.

Reducing the amount of salt to 5% results in a more active fermentation and a tangier and more distinctive final product. Try it out!

Can you make shio koji with fresh or dried koji?

Shio koji can be made with fresh or dried koji.

Dehydrated koji will make a thicker shio koji, as it will absorb some of the water. If necessary, add a little water before use.

Use the same amount of koji in weight, whether fresh or dehydrated. Fresh koji contains more water but is also more active. Therefore, you can use the same amount.

Do I have to mix/crush the shio koji before using it?

No, it is not necessary to crush shio koji before using it.

Even when fermented, shio koji still contains semi-solid rice grains. These can be left intact or crushed in a blender to obtain a smooth texture. This is the best way to use shio koji in a salad dressing, for example!

Can you eat raw shio koji?

Shio koji can be eaten raw or cooked. Add it to your marinades or dressings! To enjoy the health benefits of the enzymes, do not heat shio koji above 40°C.

How long can I keep shio koji?

Shio koji can be stored in the fridge for over 6 months without any issues. Its concentration of salt and the fermentation process preserve it effectively.

Is shio koji good for my health?

Shio koji is a minimally processed product prepared with natural ingredients. It contains many enzymes that can help digestion. In addition, koji contains vitamins B1, B2, and B6. (ref)

Also, it can be used to replace salt or soy sauce in recipes, bringing more nuance to the flavours of a dish.

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