Sweet and creamy Amazake is Japanese comfort drink at any time of the year. It helps to start a day off right and also to relax at the end of a busy day. Making Amazake is my routine and this is my go-to recipe.
First of all, I have to tell you 2 things before moving on to the next.
- There are 2 types of amazake: made with sake lees and made with rice koji. Here I show you is the one made with rice koji, alcohol-free drink.
- To make perfect Amazake, you need a cooking device with a temperature control function.
What is Amazake made out of?
It’s made of rice koji, cooked Japanese rice and water. So you need to prepare only 2 ingredients.
- rice koji
- cooked Japanese rice
Where to buy the ingredients?
You can get rice koji at Japanese grocery stores or amazon. If you would like to know how to cook Japanese rice, check out this site here. Or if cooking Japanese rice bothers you, ready-made rice pack is a useful option.
What is rice Koji?
Rice koji refers to the steamed rice that has been fermented with Aspergillus oryzae (koji mold). Aspergillus oryzae is also essential mold for making Japanese condiments such as Soy sauce, Miso, Mirin and sake.
Rice Koji contains a lot of enzymes, which breaks down the nutrition of food. For example, protease in enzymes breaks down protein in rice into amino acids. And amylase breaks down starch into glucose. This is why a mixture of rice and water become tasty and sweet.
How to make perfect Amazake
- Mix cooked rice and water.
- Add rice koji to blend.
- Keep warm at 58°C (137 °F) for 12 hours.
2 important tips for successful Amazake
Keeping the ingredients warm between 55°C to 60°C (131°F to 140°F) is important to bring out the sweetness. Because it’s optimum temperature for amylase activity of breaking down starch into sugars.
The amylase is deactivated when the temperature exceeds 70°C (158°F). And also, when temperature is low, amylase cannot activate properly.
Amazake recipe often includes a rice cooker and a thermos bottle to maintain the temperature. But I can’t recommend these method. Because according this site, keep-warm temperature of rice cookers is approximately 60°C to 74°C (140°F to 165°F). About a thermos bottle, I have tried once. But the finished Amazake wasn’t sweet enough. I guess it is because the temperature gradually drops in 12 hours. The sweetness is clearly different from the one made at a certain temperature.
Therefore, a cooking device with a temperature control function is required to make perfect Amazake, in my opinion. Unless you have a rice cooker, which keep-warm temperature is 60°C (140°F).
I use Yamazen yogurt maker below.
My ideal ratio of rice Koji, cooked rice and water is 1:1.2:4. With this ratio, you get white, creamy, and sweet Amazake with a good balanced flavor of rice koji and cooked rice.
When I made Amazake for the first time, I made it referring to the recipe of fermented food production company. Then I adopted mixture ratio to my preference. My experiment of the ratio (rice koji: cooked rice: water) is here.
- 1:1.2:3 – my favorite ratio
I found that Amazake become sweeter when it contain more koji. Also, if you reduce water, it will be very sweet Amazake. But it’s yellowish and too thick to drink.
When I made with 1:1:3 ratio, I though it’s a good balance of flavor and concentration. But at the same time, I felt the taste of rice koji is slightly strong. Then I increased the ratio of cooked rice and settled down with 1:1.2:3. It’s difficult to say the taste of rice koji, though it has something sharp sweetness and flavor and cooked rice makes it mild.
How to drink Amazake
To drink Amazake, I always make it smooth with a blender or food processor first. Then add a little water to my preference of sweetness and thickness.
You can enjoy both hot and cold Amazake. For other options, some people top yogurt with Amazake and use as a sauce of savory dishes like my Amazake Miso Chicken.
Amazake goes well with ginger and citrus fruit. So I like to add a bit of grated ginger to the hot Amazake. For the breakfast smoothie, I blend it with kiwis or strawberries.
I hope give it a try!
How long does homemade Amazake last?
- In the fridge: 1 week
- In the freezer: 1 month
When your Amazake cooled down to room temperature, pour it in a food storage container with a lid. Then keep it in the fridge or freezer.
Reference: fermented food college (Japanese)
How to Make Perfect Amazake
- 100 g (3.5 oz) rice koji
- 120 g (4 oz) cooked Japanese rice room temperature
- 300 ml water
- Place the cooked Japanese rice (room temperature) and water in the pot of your cooking device (see the note) and mix with a spoon.
- Add the rice koji and mix until well blended. If your rice koji is sheet shaped, crush into pieces beforehand.
- Make sure that all grain of rice koji and cooked rice is soaked in the water. If there is some remaining grains on the side, it will be dry and hard.
- Put on the lid and place in the cooking device. Set the temperature at 58°C (137 °F) and keep it warm for 12 hours.
- If you would like to drink smooth Amazake, place the finished Amazake in the blender or food processor and process until smooth.
- Pour the Amazake in the food container with a lid and keep it in the fridge or freezer.
- The ratio of the ingredients is 1 (rice koji): 1.2 (cooked rice): 3 (water), so please adjust the recipe amounts if you would like to.
- You can use any cooking device that can keep the mixture warm between 55°C to 60°C (131°F to 140°F) for 12 hours.
- If you have a time, stir once after 6 hours and continue to keep warm.