We are making Amazake with this dried Koji, a type of edible fungus used to make miso, soy sauce and sake. This drink brings back memories. My mother made a lot of amazake in a large jar when she was in good health. This can be a great nutrient support to beat the hot summer heat.
First, rinse 1 rice measuring cup of rice, drain well and place it into a rice cooker.
Pour in water until it reaches the 3 cups mark. Be sure to use the rice measuring cup that comes with your rice cooker.
Then, cook the rice in porridge mode. If your rice cooker doesn't have a porridge mode, be careful it doesn’t boil over. You should also cook without the pressure cooker mode to avoid boiling over.
Now, the rice porridge is ready. Remove the inner bowl from the rice cooker.
Lightly stir the rice with a rice paddle and let it sit to cool to 60 °C (140 °F).
Meanwhile, let's crumble the dried Koji also known as Kome Koji. Press the package until all the grains are separated. You can also place the block of koji in a clean bowl and crumble it with your hands.
Next, insert a kitchen thermometer into the rice to achieve the right temperature. If the temperature is too high or too low, the enzymes produced by the koji will not convert the rice starch into sugar well, making it difficult to ferment.
Now, the rice is 60 °C (140 °F). The glass thermometer is fragile so be careful not to break it.
Add the crumbled koji to the inner bowl.
Mix the rice and koji thoroughly. By the way, koji is an essential ingredient to make miso, soy sauce, sake and mirin and it has had a tremendous effect on Japanese food culture over centuries.
Now, even out the surface.
Then, place the bowl into the rice cooker. And insert the thermometer into the rice mixture.
Cover the bowl with a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth. Set the rice cooker to a keep warm mode and maintain the temperature at 55~60 °C (130~140 °F) for about 8 hours.
If the temperature is too low, add an extra kitchen towel or a pot lid to bring it to the right temperature.
While keeping the temperature for 8 hours, stir the mixture with a clean paddle 3 to 4 times. This will even out the temperature inside and help the fermentation.
Now, the mixture has been kept warm for 8 hours. I can smell the sweet lovely scent of the amazake! Remove the inner bowl.
Let it sit to cool and then pour the amazake into another container. The amazake can be stored in the fridge for 7 to 10 days but you can also freeze it to keep it longer.
And now, let's make the smoothie using the amazake. Be sure to chill all the ingredients beforehand. In a blender, combine the banana, milk and amazake.
Blend the mixture until smooth. The combination of amazake and banana is surprisingly good and you can also add cinnamon powder to taste.
Pour the amazake banana smoothie into a glass. Finally, garnish with the banana slices. I think you will love this smoothie even if you've never tried amazake before.
Next, we will be introducing the cold amazake. Add ice cubes to the amazake and dilute it with a small amount of ice water. Stir to mix.
Mix in the grated ginger root and enjoy the cold amazake. The cold amazake is popular in hot summer but you can also enjoy it hot in winter.
Amazake is rich in vitamins and essential amino acids and it is also known as a medical drip for drinking in Japan because of the similarity of their ingredients.
Amazake is written as Sweet Sake in Japanese but it contains no alcohol so people from all generations can enjoy it.
If the mixture is kept warm for 10 hours, the surface turns slightly yellow and the sweetness gets stronger but you can still enjoy the amazake.