Amazake, born from fungus, but far from it!
Amazake is a really cool and deeply flavorful enzyme culture I have been making from the koji we are starting to produce for our next summers miso production. It tastes so sweet and milky, with hint of sake, miso and so full of life. My commercial kitchen smells so sweet and fragrant from growing the Aspergillus oryzae fungus, making the koji for the Amazake started.
The process is long, labor intensive and I won’t lie I’m up at night monitoring temperatures and moving things around, but this food obsession is worth the trouble.
First I grow the fungus, aspergillus oryzae, on the substrate. Similar fungus to tempeh, filamentous, but very different in flavor.
Then I add additional substrate for food and kill off the fungus but harvest its own digestive enzymes to facilitate the next fermentation stage. Complicated right?
See the fungus makes and secretes digestive enzymes to break down it’s food as it grows, so amazake is a fungus digestive enzyme culture. Get it? Kinda.
But whether it makes sense or not, it's cool. This process nurtures my ultimate inner food nerd and the combos and possibilities are endless. Last week basmati rice koji with oat amazake, this week I have been making quinoa and black rice koji that will no doubt take this nourishing food to some cool places.
So How do you eat this digestive enzyme culture?
I have been making a few things for the market but it can be used to flavor almost anything from savory soups to a sweetener in baked goods and cookies. In Japan it is mostly used to make sweet milky beverages.
At the farmer's markets, I usually have amazake drinks flavored for a western palate. Think golden milk, cacao. and lavender. If you're interested we can also sell the pure amazake porridge you can use to make your own beverages, baked goods or eat as a porridge for breakfast. The flavors are so unique, complex and delicious i’m sure I will be coming up with some interesting creations in the coming weeks and months.