More on the fermenting tip, last year when I finally broke down and bought Wild Fermentaion, I read it cover to cover and added a whole bunch of new recipes to my list of new things to try. Amazake is one I am most excited about and I'm finally getting around to experimenting with it. I'm guessing that few of you out there have heard of this delicious fermented Japanese creation. We usually buy it in the health food store as a thick smoothy like treat which the kids love. During the fermentation process, simple rice (or any other grain you choose) becomes extremely sweet as the mold spores in the inoculated rice product called Koji turn the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. According to Sandor Katz, amazake is versatile enough to eat as a pudding, to sweeten your baked goods, or blend into a thick sweet beverage that can be consumed hot or cold. The most exciting part about this recipe is that it only takes 12-24 hours to ferment. Here's how you do it...
-2 cups sweet rice (or any other grain)
-2 cups koji (I found at local health food store, but you can order here. Koji is also the culture used to make miso)
-you will also need: 1 gallon wide mouth jar and an insulated cooler large enough for the jar to fit into
Cook the grain in 6 cups of water. Preheat the cooler and the gallon jar by filling with hot water. When the grain is cooked, remove it from heat, stir and cool to the point where you can hold your finger in it for a moment but it is still steaming hot.
Add koji to cooked grain and stir well.
Check amazake after 8-12 hours, if it is very sweet then its ready. If not then heat it up gently with more hot water and allow to ferment for a few more hours. Once it is sweet bring it to a boil to stop the fermentation. If you leave it to ferment after it becomes sweet it becomes the alcoholic beginnings of sake. You can now serve it as a pudding or add water and blend into a smooth drink. Some delicious added flavorings are, coconut. grated ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, espresso. There are other methods you can try (you basically want to create an incubator that will stay between 130-135 degrees). Your amazake can sit in the crock pot or rice cooker filled with water. I was thinking of putting the closed jar in my dehydrator next time at 135 degrees. The oven can also work.
I have yet to try baking with amazake but the notion of having sweet baked goods on hand in our house that require no sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. is REVOLUTIONARY! Here is a recipe I will be trying asap for gluten free cardamom-peach amazake scones.
Another great book on the subject that explains in more detail the fermenting process, health benefits, and gives many more recipes is Naturally Delicious and Nutritious Amazake Rice Beverage, by John Finnegan and Kathy Cituk. Enjoy!!
*first image from http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/amazake