Amazake ( not just for winter )
Amazake or sweet sake is a fermented rice drink made from koji (kome koji). The koji mold or Aspergillus Oryzae is used in the making of miso,soy sauce,sake and Mirin. The mold causes the rice enzymes to break down and ferment into unrefined sugars. The sugar makes a sweet drink or can be used in desserts,smoothies or dressing.
Amazake is a popular winter drink and is often had at New year. You may find it served by street vendors or at shrines and tea houses,but did you know Amazake was not always a winter drink and was actually consumed in the Edo Period in the summer to battle against the hot Japanese summers and reduce fatigue. Amazake is made up of B vitamins, and all the vitamins and mineral components found in an IV drip . It has high levels of glucose so is perfect to have in the morning for breakfast or if your feeling tired. As it is high in protein and vitamins it helps to boost the metabolism and is good for the digestion as it is has probiotics due to the fermentation.
I had bought some organic brown Rice Koji from the macrobiotic shop ( link to their website is down the side of the page) I decided to give making amazake a try.
First you need to make Okayu a rice porridge. Use one cup of Japanese rice and wash well as if you were making sushi then add this with 5 cups of water to your rice cooker and cook. When it is done mix in 200g of Rice Koji and 200ml of water. Set your rice cooker to warm and place over the top a towel. The day I made it was a very warm day so I just used a clean jay cloth and then put the lid on a jar. You need to keep the temperature between 50-60 degrees Celsius so many people check the temperature with a thermometer. I didn’t have one so I actually winged it. If the temperature is too warm the amazake will not ferment sweet and too cool it may turn sour. I was very lucky it turned out so sweet and delicious . You need to keep the amazake on this setting for 10 hours stirring a few times in between.
You can then store your amazake in the fridge for up to 10 days ( I don’t think it’s going to last that long ) or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
Now you can use your amazake to make delicious drinks and desserts.
The most simple way to have your amazake is to gently warm it 1-1 with water adding a little grated ginger.
You could also use soy milk. Do not over heat your amazake as it will kill the enzymes.
How about trying the above chilled with a little Yuzu juice for a refreshing summer drink.
You could also use it to make sweet chai tea. Steep one 1/2 cup of hot water with black tea with spices like cardomom and star aniseed,cinnamon bark and clove. I actually have a premade chai tea blend and used about a tablespoon . Strain then add this to a pan with 1/2 cup soy milk and one tablespoon of amazake and gently heat. This will add a lovely sweetness to your chai tea.
You can make a delicious smoothie or shake by adding to a blender two tablespoons of amazake,one cup of soy milk and one to two bananas depending on how thick you want it. Blend and chill for a delicious breakfast with fruit and maybe some granola.
Why not add it to porridge to make it extra sweet and creamy just add it to your porridge after cooking up the porridge so it doesn’t kill the enzymes.
I even made a chia pudding with it. Just add two tablespoons of amazake with two tablespoons of chia seeds and 1/2 cup of soy milk. Mix well and leave in the fridge to set. Perfect when topped with yogurt and fruit.
If you do not want to make amazake for yourself you can buy it . Clear spring do a lovely range or if you can get it you can buy Japanese amazake drinks from an Asian supermarket .
Amazake can be enjoyed at anytime of year.