Kaizen Trading Company (KTC) is a new fermentation test lab and production facility that lives under chef David Chang's Momofuku empire, and America's Test Kitchen recently took a look inside. Since late 2012, Chang has been teasing fans and followers with news of a micro-fermentation lab. He even mentioned it late last year at his lecture at Harvard. But it's been unclear, until today, what exactly Kaizen Trading Company meant. Was it a separate company? A consulting gig for Chang? A new brand?
Years in development, KTC lives in a windowless room at the back of Momofuku's production warehouse in Brooklyn. There, grinders, proofing boxes, and mixers stand among container after container of raw grain. The company currently specializes in two main products: Hozon, ("preserved" in Japanese), is a thick paste made from fermented nuts, grains, and seeds. Bonji, "essence", is a dark liquid made from single-variety fermented grains. Both products are made in the same general way miso or tamari is produced, though they each use a unique method and are fermented for specific periods of time, allowed to rise and sour much like the process of making bread.
Ryan Miller, who has been with Momofuku since 2008 and is now the product development chef for KTC, told America's Test Kitchen that both of KTC's products are "flavorful bases for seasoning soups and sauces, marinating meats and fish, braising proteins and vegetables, and finishing dishes."
Already, Chang has been sending samples to chefs—San Francisco's Corey Lee is an early fan—for testing, but for now, they're not available for retail sale. The only chefs using them regularly are those lucky enough to be working at Chang's restaurants.
· A Visit to Brooklyn: Touring the Momofuku Culinary Lab's Kaizen Trading Company [America's Test Kitchen]
· David Chang Teases Upcoming Momofuku Products [-E-]
· All Momofuku Coverage on Eater [-E-]