Reverse engineering meju

by Ben Reade. by Ben Reade Meju is a traditional Korean fermented soy bean cake which has been dried for around 6 weeks while molds (mostly Aspergillus sp.) and bacteria (commonly Bacillus sp.) break the macromolecular structure down. The resulting brick of fermented beans can then be added to salt-water brine (sometimes along with chili and wood charcoal) and left to ferment in ceramic crocks over long periods of time – the youngest I have tasted is 2 months and the oldest, seven years. Salt rich fermentations of protein (like this one) are excellent for producing umami taste (a passion of NFL). After the allotted fermentation period, the meju and brine will have turned into umami tasting doenjang and ganjang respectively. The removed block of doenjang will be mashed up and used as something similar to Japanese miso leaving the ganjang brine – which might be termed ‘soy sauce’. So in late October, … Read more

Artist-in-residence: Nukazuke pathways

by Rosemary Liss. Check out Rosemary’s first post, a slideshow of images from her summer as our artist-in-residence,as well as our first short post on nuka from a few years back. My interest in nukazuke stems from my more general interest in the physical relationships between bodies and food as a life-sustaining force. I was introduced to the nuka duko (or nuka pot) on my very first day working at Hex Ferments, a company that creates kombucha, kimchis and kraut in Baltimore, Maryland. This magical process inspired later artistic projects both visual and comestible. The nuka is a perfect example of a process that was born from utilising waste. Its origin finds roots in the Edo period of Japan when the milling of rice rose in popularity. The by-product of polishing rice is the rich outer membrane also known as bran. By adding a salt brine and other inoculants from … Read more


 posted by Josh Evans Part sourdough starter, part pickling machine, nuka is a versatile Japanese technique for fermenting any and all sorts of vegetable. Traditionally, the Japanese mix the rice bran left over from polished white rice with water and salt, as well as beer and/or sake, to form a stiff paste. A new vegetable is pressed into the paste each day until it tastes sufficiently sour, at which point the nuka is ready for full use. We became interested in nuka from Sandor Katz’ The Art of Fermentation, and we wanted to explore other versions beyond rice. We’ve landed on oat bran as an exciting alternate, for its sweet and nutty flavour, and a dark beer for big body (we found ourselves with plenty of the Herlev Organic Stout, which we also used for brining). 900g oat bran, 500g beer, 40g water, and 29g salt (2%).  We started our nuka … Read more


posted by Josh Evans We’ve been brining all sorts of things for months, experimenting with different concentrations of salt, lengths of pickling, temperature and pressure. It turns out lactic fermentation is hugely versatile, working with all sorts of substrates and under various conditions. Then we started making ‘brine’ with liquids other than just water, and entered a whole new world of fermentation process and complexity of flavour. One of our first trials: Cavalo nero kale in beer brine. We rolled the leaves, packed them tightly with a plate and weight, and poured over a brine of Herslev Bryghus Organic Stout and 2% salt. At first the mixture bubbled gently as we expected. But after not too long we knew we had a new type of beast on our hands. The brine formed an impressive mycoderma – a type of mould (literally ‘fungus skin’) that often forms on fermenting wines and … Read more