Father's Day is June 16

In life, I'm all about making mistakes. The important thing is to just try everything! I was always the person to ask all the stupid questions in class; I've never had much of a fear of failure or looking dumb in public. I actually just tripped and fell on a busy street with full-on Farmer's Market bustle the other day. Sooooo embarrassing. But all you can do is get up, dust off the dirt and keep walking, right? This is my philosophy on cooking, and sometimes, Kitchen Follies will make a star appearance on Umami Mart. It's been a while since I've written in this column but my most recent folly hits the spot.

So, I introduce to you my not-so-genius recipe: shio-koji roasted chicken! Initially, I started taking photos of this process cause I thought it would make an excellent Lazyass Cookin' post. I've been using shio-koji in just about anything these days: marinating fish, salad dressings, in soups. I use it in place of salt, and it adds a real depth of flavor -- umami, if you will.

I was at Berkeley Bowl, contemplating a brainless dinner. I bought a chicken not knowing quite what I would do with it. When I got home, I thought this could be the simplest, most harmless dish. I had marinated fish with shio-koji which turned out really moist and wonderful. It would do the same to chicken, right?

So I put the chicken in a Pyrex pan and slathered on the shio-koji:

And rubbed it down...

... around, and inside:


I kept it in the fridge all day and took it out about two hours before cooking it, to let it rest and get up to room temperature.

And I tried my hand at trussing the bird for the very first time! I consulted Johnny's book on chicken, and took some notes from Mr. Thomas Keller.

Wings down, behind the back. This was not as easy as it sounds.

Tying together the legs and closing the butthole gap.

Wings stay down, damnit!


Instead of potatoes, I dressed the chicken up with cauliflower and carrots.

I placed the bird into a 450˚F preheated oven. Oh, I was so confident about this!

And 45 minutes later...


So koji burns, ok? I think I had read this somewhere, but I would have never know to what extent until I tried this myself.

Now, roasting a bird is no simple feat to begin with, and I obviously need to adjust a few things here. I'll probably bake at a lower temperature for longer next time, and see what happens then. It will probably still burn, but maybe not to such an extreme?

That said, Johnny actually liked the burned skin, which was taut albeit a bit soggy. The meat however was super moist and deliciously seasoned with a hint of koji.

I'm looking forward to our Koji Workshop tomorrow night at Umami Mart Oakland, and get some pointers from Sonoko-san herself. Once I've perfected this recipe, you can be sure you'll get it on Lazyass Cookin'!