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Sources for nuka and koji? (Japanese pickling ing's)

  • g
  • Guido Oct 30, 2009 11:42 AM

I have done a lot of pickling and want to try the Japanese style. There are 2 hard-to-find ingredients, nuka (rice bran) and koji (starter, based on rice) that are needed. Anyone know where to find these in the Boston area? I have tried H-Mart and Japan Village Mkt (Brookline) without success.

3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

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  1. I'm pretty sure I did see nuka in the Brookline market when they were relatively new-- did you ask to see if maybe they were just out at the moment, or maybe they stopped carrying it? The reason I'm pretty sure I didn't hallucinate this is because it was in an unexpected (for me) location, on a shelf and not in the fridge section.

    6 Replies
    1. re: another_adam

      Thanks for the suggestion, Adam. I called back and asked whether they ever had it - the 2 people there said they had never seen it. Perhaps they were new employees and weren't there when they did carry it...

      1. re: Guido

        I just saw two different brands of nuka there - 1lb size, maybe? - for around $2 or $3, which seemed surprisingly cheap in the context. (One was Well-pac, I forget the other.) Forgot to look and see if they have koji, too, though...

        1. re: another_adam

          That's great, Adam - thanks! I heard from another source that Reliable market in Inman Sq might carry it, so now I have a couple of leads for the weekend. Anyone interested can learn more at this blog that I found:

          1. re: another_adam

            Right you are, Adam. Went to JVM today and they had 3 bags (1 lb) of one brand and 1 bag of another brand. So I bought all 3 of the same brand. No koji, but I found that online. Reliable market did not have either.
            JVM also had nice pressed-rice triangles wrapped in nori (I got the spicy tuna flavor but there were half-dozen other flavors). Excellent packaging that kept the nori dry until you are ready to eat it. Made fresh daily in-store. A deal at $1.50; most other things seemed expensive to me.

            1. re: Guido

              Wow, three pounds of nuka is quite an ambitious pickling project!!
              My previous japanese grocery only sold it in 5lb or bigger, so I always went in together with friends on a bag to avoid having a freezer full of it :)

              1. re: Guido

                Those are onigiri.... I get mine at Ebisuya in Medford. They always run low on the takana ones, but they'll make more if you ask..

        2. I used to buy both at Kotobukiya. Perhaps their Medford spot could be a source. I've also used miso as the fermenting agent.

          1815 Massachusetts Ave # 1, Cambridge, MA

          2 Replies
          1. re: almansa

            Kotobukiya had a "instant" (pre-started) nuka mix that was quite convenient, since you didn't have to get it going yourself. I haven't checked if they have something similar at the Brookline shop- maybe you could suggest it?

            There's a neat technique for easy miso-zuke in Seiko Ogawa's 'Easy Japanese Pickling in Five Minutes to One Day': take a piece of plastic wrap, spread some miso on it, put a paper towel over it, and then put your veggies. Put a paper towel, then more miso, and wrap it all up. I've done celery this way, but then I forgot all about the technique-- guess I should try it again soon!

            1815 Massachusetts Ave # 1, Cambridge, MA

            1. re: another_adam

              I am pretty sure I saw this at Ebisuya in Medford, but I would definitely call first.

          2. for Koji
            for Rice Bran
            Rice Bran 20 Oz, From NOW Foods Rice bran

            1 Reply
            1. re: Onexpresso

              I used an online order form for this site (2nd.)http://nukadoko.net/ and have have heard back or seen a charge for my order yet! Also this one (1st.); http://maps.google.co.jp/local_url?q=... did not understand english when I made a long distance call and the online order form was difficult as it did not translate all, and maybe needed japanese yahoo! At least they have good recipes!

              Out of Stock (3rd.) - http://www.marukaiestore.com/p-3695-s... . And (4th.) http://www.macrobiotic.asia/goods_en_... was hoping for a starter instant mix. Anyone help here!?

            2. Nuka for pickling is available at Japanese supermarkets. Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern in NYC procures his from Barry Farm in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

              Michael Anthony's
              146 Waterman Ave, North Providence, RI 02911

              2 Replies
              1. re: Yukari

                Can you be more specific, Yukari, about which Japanese supermarkets in the Boston/Cambridge area, or further out, might stock nuka and koji?

                1. re: Guido

                  There are really 2 Japanese markets that I know of - the Village Market in Brookline, and Ebisuya in Medford. If any market in Boston Metro is going to have those, it would be Ebisuya. If they don't carry it, they might be able to acquire it for sale if you spoke with the owners..

                  Outside of Boston, there's nothing that I know of until you hit Nippon Daido in Westchester Country, north of New York. The 300 lb gorilla is Mitsuwa market in Edgewater, NJ - its huge, but of course, a long way to go to get an ingredient. There are big Asian markets here, but the big ones around here are more in the China/Korea vein.. they stock Japanese ingredients, but just the normal ones like nori or furikake.