Amazake is my favorite traditional sweet drink. It reminds me of my time working as a nurse in Japan and still always comforts me and makes me feel very warm and cozy. To make this, you will just need kome koji, which you can buy online or in supermarkets, and some sort of incubator to keep the amazake at around 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (65 to 70 degrees Celsius). My favorite methods are to use either a rice cooker or a yogurt maker. You could also use a thermal pot or an oven.
Yield: 1 cup (250 ml)
Fermentation time: 6 to 8 hours
- 1/2 cup (100 g) koji
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) hot water
Place the koji in a bowl. Pour 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (65 to 70 degrees Celsius) hot water into the bowl and mix well. Check the mixture temperature to make sure it is around 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius). Place the mixture into a rice cooker, yogurt maker, oven, etc. — anything that can keep it at 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) — and leave it for about 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally. I stir the mixture at 4 hours in, to make sure it is all fermented evenly.
Stop whatever machine you used and put the amazake into a pan over medium heat for 5 minutes after it has cooked for 8 hours (do not let the temperature go above 175 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius). By doing this, it will stop any further fermentation. Pour it into a sterilized jar and keep it refrigerated for up to 10 days. Serve hot or leave it in the fridge to cool and serve cold.
Note: You can also keep amazake in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Sweet Amazake Custard Pudding Recipe
This is a really tasty pudding that is naturally sweetened by the amazake so it doesn’t require much sugar. You can drizzle it with brown sugar syrup (kuromitsu) or caramel and serve it with warm tea for a sweet little treat.
Yield: 3 servings
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk
- 3 tbsp (45 g) Homemade Amazake
- 1 tbsp (15 g) sugar
- Brown sugar syrup (kuromitsu) or caramel, to serve
- Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the milk. Whisk it together to make it smooth, then strain it through a sieve into another bowl. Add the amazake and sugar and mix together. Divide it into three ramekins and set it aside.
- Boil some water in a large pot and place a steamer on top of the boiling water. Place the ramekins into the steamer and steam for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and remove the ramekins.
- Let them cool down a bit, then put them in the fridge for at least an hour. Once they’re cold, drizzle each with brown sugar syrup or caramel to serve.
Also from The Secrets to Japanese Cooking:
Reprinted with permission from The Secrets to Japanese Cooking by Shihoko Ura and Elizabeth McClelland, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Shihoko Ura.