Photograph by Martyn Thompson Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero



Starters from Issue 10 – Winter 2017 – Sin

While at face value fermentation seems traditionally slothful—more waiting game than involved process—beneath the surface there is a quiet rebirth happening. Kwang Uh, the wildly inventive chef behind L.A. restaurant Baroo, a veritable fermentation lab, calls it “transformation through an actively alive resting period.” Here, he shares his recipe for a fermented, umami-bomb, carob-based condiment.

makes 3 quarts

  • 800 gr (about 1½ lb before boiling) carob pods (you can usually find at Middle Eastern stores)
  • 200 gr (7 oz) dried shiitake mushrooms (weight after rehydration)
  • 100 gr (3½ oz) dried kombu (weight after rehydration)
  • 300 gr (10¼ oz) burdock root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 300 gr (10¼ oz) lotus root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 bird chili, optional
  • 10 gr (3½ oz ) Kosher salt or sea salt

  • 1

    Place carob in a medium saucepan and cover by at least 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer 40 minutes. Drain then cool. Discard seeds and roughly chop flesh.

  • 2

    Meanwhile, in separate bowls, soak shiitakes and kombu covered in warm water until just softened. Discard stems from shiitakes then roughly chop them and kombu.

  • 3

    Grind carob, shiitakes, kombu, burdock, lotus root with salt in a food processor to  a paste. Transfer to clean canning jars and let ferment at room temperature 7 days. Refrigerate once fermented.


    Serving suggestions: Carob-oot can be used as a seasoning condiment, roasted, or slowly reduced with 3 parts dashi. Uh also mixes it with shredded, roasted seaweed and lets it ferment again for 3-4 more days at room temperature. It can then be puréed with other seasonings (like sake, mirin, or tamari) and used as a spread on toasted bread, or for making fried or seasoned rice or fermented butter.