Wired reports: [edited]
The Momofuku restaurants are famous for their hip, worldly take on Asian cuisine. What’s less well-known are their secret ingredients: mould and bacteria. The fermentation enabled by these microbes is vital to traditional foods from miso to pickles.
1. Cranberry Vinegar
Crush cranberries and add Lactobacillus from yogurt whey, plus salt, sugar, and a little water. Wait two weeks. The result: a bright-red vinegar that’s even more acidic than the berries themselves.
Mix cabbage with spices and salt brine: Several strains of naturally occurring Lactobacillus will start pumping out acids that lower the pH, killing off pathogens and imparting a mouth-tingling tang.
Hit steamed rice or barley with Aspergillus oryzae and you get koji. This fungus is a mainstay of Japanese cuisine, used to make soy sauce, miso, and bonito.
4. Pork Bushi
The mold Pichia burtonii forms a white film on this piece of pig flesh, much like the rind on a hard cheese. It facilitates the curing process, transforming smoked pork tenderloin into a rich, savory, dried bushi ready to be sliced thin and added to ramen.