David Chang Invents New Ingredients: Hozon and Bonji

Rachel Tepper Paley

Who needs miso and soy sauce when you can have hozon and bonji, two substances invented out of thin air at chef David Chang’s Momofuku Culinary Lab. Both started as an exploration of the so-called fifth flavor, umami, Chang explains in the above video.

Bonji and hozon, he explains, are “basically our versions of soy sauce and miso.” The inventions are like a rabbit hole of possibility for Chang, and he goes into the creation of hozon in detail: He and his crew set out to make miso with pistachios instead of soybeans, but soon realized that they “couldn’t really call it miso” because that would “be like saying California cheddar is like cream cheese. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Aged hozon made with chickpeas has “notes of Parmesan,” he muses, and when served with pasta yields flavors that aren’t quite Asian or Mediterranean.

"Now the flavors are… I don’t know what anymore!" Chang says with a laugh. "It’s just really delicious."