“Kōji,” says Jeremy Umansky, “is the most romantic, sensual thing you can bring into your kitchen.”

Umansky, co-chef/owner of Larder Delicatessen & Bakery in Cleveland, Ohio, wears his passion for kōji — Japan’s semiofficial “national mold,” Aspergillus oryzae — on his sleeve. As does Rich Shih, who’s a mechanical engineer by day, kōji “culinary explorer” and food preservation consultant by night. The two had been exploring kōji independently throughout the 2010s, sharing their work on social media before connecting and developing a working relationship that’s culminated in “Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-based Fermentation,” out since May 6 from Chelsea Green Publishing.

Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering The Magic Of Mold-Based Fermentation, by Jeremy Umansky and Rich Shih352 pagesCHEALSEA GREEN PUBLISHING