January 19, 2021 at 10:50 am

Lee Illuminates the Role of Kōji in Japanese Fermentation

Dr. Victoria Lee, portrait outdoors

Dr. Victoria Lee

Dr. Victoria Lee joined epidemiologist and shōchū ambassador of Japan Dr. Stephen Lyman in a public lecture hosted by the Japan Foundation of Toronto. Their discussion of the brewing mold kōji is part of the series “Healthy Hakkō: The Fermented Culinary Arts of Japan.”

“From soy sauce to miso to sake to schochu,” the announcement reads, “these iconic Japanese foods and drinks are all made possible with the help of a mighty microorganism commonly known as ‘koji.’ What exactly is koji and how did koji come to play such an important role in Japanese fermentation?” In this pre-recorded event, Lee and Lyman discuss “the history of fermented Japanese drinks, the tireless little worker that is koji, on-going scientific endeavours to identify and categorize different kinds of fermentation microbes, and much more.”

Lee is Assistant Professor of History at Ohio University and currently a fellow at the Institut d’études avancées de Paris. Her book The Arts of the Microbial World: Fermentation Science in Twentieth-Century Japan is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press in fall 2021.

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