Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to make your own Amazake

Amazake is a classic way to prepare sweet rice in Japan. Often in winter, especially around new years, when you enter a Buddhist temple, you are offered a hot, sweet, gingery drink made from rice. This is the most common way to serve amazake and a truly warming, delightful drink.  Here in the states, if you want to have real amazake, there is only one choice and that is to make your own. Of course some of you are immediately going to point out a horrendous company based about 1 mile from my loft that makes what they call "amazake". Well, guess what, they are faking it and selling fake amazake but few Americans, unfortunately, know the differene between the real cultured rice and the stuff that is laden with processed crap.
Fortunately, making amazake is EASY. I mean simple, beyond easy.

You only need 3 ingredients:
mochi kome (sweet brown rice)
koji (cultured rice)

for a basic recipe, follow this:

In a rice cooker prepare 1 cup mochi kome with twice the amount of water you would usually use. Use sweet brown rice, not white!
or in a pot, cook 1 cup mochi kome with 4 cups water and cook 1 hour at very low heat.

After the rice is cooked, let it cool down to room temperature.
Then add
2 cups koji (Koji can be purchased from miso and sake makers and Cold Mountain Miso company sells it in tubs and can be found in most Japanese and health food markets but as  usual, avoid Whole Foods like the plague. Besides they do not carry it lol)

Incubate the rice/koji mixture at 140 degrees for 16 hours. I use my dehydrator for this, covering the rice well so it does not dry out.

After 16 hours, remove the rice and you will find it is unusually sweet! You now have amazake in your hands. The koji has completely broken down the starches into sugars and you are left with what was once Japan's "sugar", before the meiji period.
Now if you add yeast to the amazake you can make sake.
If you put the amazke in shochu for 2 months and then filter it out, you have Hon Mirin (not the processed crap you find on the shelf which is alchohol and corn syrup!)

And now for the amazing winter drink that anyone who has visited a temple in winter in Japan has once warmed their hands and bodies and hearts with.

1 cup amazake
1 cup boiling water
small piece of ginger

place all in a blender and blend till smooth and drink up.

shinnen akemashite o-medetō-gozaimasu


  1. i'm going to try this. do korean/asian markets stock koji?

    1. WARNING!

      There’s JUST ONE REASON you might fail on the Paleo Diet and it has everything to do with your ability to make delicious food, FAST.

      But now, with this stunningly simple cookbook I’ll show you how to cook savory, mouth-watering meals in minutes for some of the busiest Paleo eaters in the world...

      For more info please click on the following link: How To Cooking

      Talk soon.

  2. Korean stores who service the Zainichi community are likely to have koji. I do not know of koji being used in traditional Korean foods at all.
    Many Koreans, as you know were forced to go to Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea and thus they adopted some of the amazing culinary traditions of Japan. Same for the Koreans in Korea who for obvious reasons despised having the Japanese occupy their country but at the same time recognized great food as greteat food and thus some Japanese culinary ideas stuck in Korea after 1945 when the Japanese were finally tossed out of Korea after that very long, unpleasant few decades.
    Koji can be found online. is where i source many of my food cultures including koji and tempeh spores

  3. don't forget the cinema!

    i just tracked down a couple of japanese markets in the city! i'll have to drive to most, but i think i'll just visit those to find my koji and tempeh spores, if i ever make homemade tempeh.

    thanks phil!

  4. you will not find tempeh spores in any Japanese markets. Only Indonesian places would have any interest in carrying such an absurd ingredient :)

  5. Lovely! I just learned how to make amazake from scratch while volunteering on a rice farm near Osaka (wrote about it here, and was wondering where to get koji elsewhere. thanks for the lead on Gem Cultures!


  6. your blog is amazing Wen! I hope to talk with you about these extraordinary food travels.

  7. Once you have made the Amazake, can you keep some left over as a starter culture for the next batch?

  8. no, simply make a new batch each time. it is simple. no reason for seeking shortcuts

  9. aww.. making koji doesnt sound like any shortcut to me. It's a 'crunchy granola' homesteading thing for 'frugal gourmets' who want to understand their culture and food.
    I've found little written in English; Learning beginner mushroom techniques will be your best guide. But I heard Koji was originally made in caves. With that in mind, & maintaining full sterile procedure- Koji grows itself:-) For me in LA it's important the air is very clean(for all dust has wild spores).
    Then I basically follow amazake process- except using normal gohan [dinner-style rice, separate grains, NOT porridge]; cultured on a flat tray [straw mats are best]; & I use the oven pilot light for warmth. I do not heat above 116F. This allows a coat of living Aspergillis to 'bloom' or colonize the grain.
    If you can keep conditions sterile, within 24-72 hours delicious, bright white fungus will fully cover each grain.
    It's a special brewers' art- it takes experimentation to learn to respond to local conditions- plus your basic fungus growing technique.

  10. Thanks for the instructions, my amazke is incubating in the dehydrator right now! Can't wait to try it!

  11. Oh, and any thoughts on making mochi? Not the ice cream sweet treat but the little squares to bake... Seems like it should be simple, but I can't find any recipes online...Thanks again for posting!

  12. i have never pounded my own mochi. I sometimes find locally made mochi and like to cook it in soup or simply bake it and drizzle it with shoyu and yuzu zest

  13. Several recipes suggested using the warming feature on rice cooker. This was too hot (150') so I kept the lid cracked. The crock pot did much better on warming function, (120-130' range). Next time, I will use the dehydrator.

  14. Can you provide some more details on incubating in dehydrator - at what temperature? Do you put a lid on or should it "breathe" during incubation?

  15. I made amazake with whole-grain brown rice. I used 1 cup of rice,1/2 cup koji. After boiled rice cooled, I added koji and let it ferment in my oven, 12 hours later, I had a sweet porridge. I blended it with frozen bananas or pears, frozen berries and viola! soft-serve dairy-frw ice cream.