Pronounced ah-mah-ZAH-kay, the word literally means "sweet sake". It is a delicious, creamy hot rice drink with a "...rich, ambrosial flavor...most popular during the winter months, especially at New Year’s. Rich in natural sugars, it has long served as a sweetening agent in Japanese cookery." (1)
It can be used in place of sugar in many recipes, and is especially nice for baking.
Homemade Amazaké Recipe
3 cups brown rice
1 1/2 cups dry Brown Rice Koji
A steel stemmed thermometer will be helpful to check temperatures.
Pressure cook brown rice using 3 cups rice to 5 cups water for about 45 minutes. Or boil rice without pressure using 6 cups water to 3 cups rice for 50-60 minutes. Do not use salt in the cooking.
- When done, stir the grain from top to bottom and transfer into a glass, Pyrex, or ceramic mixing bowl. Let the grain cool down to 110-130º F.
- Use about 1 1/2 cups dry koji to 4 cups cooked grain. Stir koji well into the warm rice. Try to fill the bowl almost full and cover with a lid or plate to conserve heat. The mixture will tend to be thick but will thin out as it ferments.
- Keep the container in a warm place for 5-8 hours or overnight. The temperature of the fermenting grain should stay between 115-130º during incubation. You can incubate Amazaké in the bottom of your oven over the pilot light. You can also use a hot water bath with a larger bowl, keeping the water 130-140º F.
- If possible, stir mixture with a wooden spoon several times during incubation, checking the temperature as you go. The grain should start to smell sweet and become more liquefied as it ferments. If after 5 hours it is not sufficiently sweet to your taste, let it ferment 2-3 hours longer. When the fermentation is complete, the mixture will be sweet tasting, and the individual grains will be soft.
- Now simmer the Amazaké over a low flame for 15 minutes to stop further fermentation. This is now your Amazaké base, which you can store in glass jars in the fridge until ready for use.
"To serve as Amazaké: Combine 1 part base with 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 parts water in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Season lightly with salt, pour into preheated cups, and top each portion with a dab of grated gingerroot.
To use as a sweetener: Substitute 3 1/2 tablespoons Amazaké base for 1 tablespoon honey (or 2 tablespoons sugar) in any of your favorite preparations. Rich in enzymes, it is especially good in breads, cakes, pancakes, waffles, or muffins where it assists in the leavening process and adds a rich moistness." (1)
The Book of Miso, page 162.