First, it is necessary to recognize there are many types of koji used in the Far East, and that each fermented food requires a specific type of koji.Thus, Japanese soy sauces generally use a koji that is different from the one used to make Chinese-style soy sauces, and both are different from the koji used for sake manufacture. Generally, koji can be referred to by its intended product (e.g., sake koji or shoyu koji) or by the substrate from which the koji is prepared (e.g., rice koji, barley koji, or soybean koji).
Despite the type of koji or how it is made, the purpose and function are always the same. Namely, the koji provides a source of enzymes necessary to convert solid, raw materials containing complex and non-fermentable substrates into soluble, simple, metabolizable products that can be easily fermented by suitable microorganisms. It is also important to realize that koji contains not only amylolytic enzymes, but an array of enzymes capable of hydrolyzing proteins and peptides, lipids, cellulose, pectin, and other complex substrates. The koji also serves as a source (often the main source) of substrates for the enzymes produced by the koji fungi.
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