Shio koji is a fermented mixture of grain inoculated with mold (koji), water and salt that is used in marinades and brines. Chef Ben Bebenroth of Cleveland's Spice Catering loves how it gives this pork shoulder recipe funky umami flavor, while also helping to tenderize the meat. Miso, which also contains koji, is an easier-to-find substitute. Serve with Ginger Pickled Carrots (see Associated Recipe)--their acidity balances the richness of the dish. Source: EatingWell Magazine, July / August 2020

Ben Bebenroth


Brine & Pork

Associated Recipes


Instructions Checklist
  • To brine pork: Combine water, shio koji (or miso), brown sugar, salt, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns in a large pot. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the sugar and salt dissolve. Transfer to a large bowl and add ice. When the ice is melted, add pork. Refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.

  • Remove the pork from the brine (discard brine) and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Pat the pork dry.

  • To braise pork: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add half the pork and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining pork. Add onion and water to the pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes, wine and honey; bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pot. Cover and bake until the pork is fork-tender, 2 to 3 hours.

  • Transfer the pork and vegetables to a serving dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Skim fat from the cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce is reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Spoon the sauce over the pork and vegetables and sprinkle with parsley, if desired.


To make ahead: Brine pork (Step 1) for up to 36 hours.

Tip: Primarily used as a marinade, shio koji has a similar taste to sake or miso, all of which contain the Japanese fermenting agent koji, usually made from rice. Purchase at Asian markets or online.

Nutrition Facts

307 calories; 18 g total fat; 6 g saturated fat; 92 mg cholesterol; 437 mg sodium. 417 mg potassium; 8 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 25 g protein; 4 g added sugar;