Ingredient Watch: Five Ways with Amazake

With koji all the rage in the development world, we cast our eye over amazake, the fermented rice-based sweet beverage that’s starting to make waves as we head into 2023
Ingredient Watch: Amazake

What is amazake, and why are we talking about it?

Amazake is a sweet, ever-so-slightly sour, traditional Japanese drink classically made from fermented rice. Enjoyed hot or cold, in the summer or in the depths of winter, amazake is generally alcohol-free and, in terms of texture, can vary from thin and smooth to thick and chunky.

Lauded for its health benefits, amazake is a source of gut health-fortifying probiotics and metabolism-boosting digestive enzymes. It's also high in nutrients such as vitamin B and essential amino acids, and delivers around 80 calories per 100g.

The reason why we're talking about amazake, aside from it being highlighted as part of the National Restaurant Association's 'What's Hot' US culinary forecast for 2023, is that it's part of the small but exciting list of Japanese foods made using the koji mould (Aspergillus oryzae).

Used for years in high-end restaurants (and now being creatively harnessed by nostalgia-driven comfort food innovators); koji has taken the wider food development world by storm the past couple of years, with the versatile fungus able to impart bold, umami flavours, deliver textural benefits as a meat tenderizer, and even act as a salt replacer.

The list of koji-made foods also includes miso and soy sauce, with chefs and innovators now exploring a range of culinary applications for amazake (which translates to 'sweet sake'), particularly when it comes to desserts and baked goods.
Ingredient Watch: Amazake

What are some amazake dish examples?

Amazake and Roasted Pumpkin Panettone

Chef Marco Fonseca’s festive innovation is driven by creamed millet-based amazake, which he blends into the dough as a natural sweetener, with the roasted pumpkin said to deliver moreish nuttiness.

Black Amazake Tart

Zero-waste wiazard Douglas McMaster recently developed a black amazake tart in collaboration with @two_shefs for a pop-up event. They slowly caramalised apples and amazake with sugar to produce what he calls a 'fake ganache', delivering “sweet, umami, deep dark flavours, like a good balsamic vinegar".

Amazake Sourdough

Irish fermentary River Run Ferments’ Teri Ann Fox recently showcased an oat amazake sourdough made with whole grain and emmer wheat. Sprinkled and rolled with butter, turbinado sugar, cinnamon and cardamom, then baked and drizzled with oat-fava miso icing; Fox says oat-based amazake “gives the effect of an enriched dough that is totally plant based, and adds to the overall flavour profile.”
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Amazake Rice Pudding

A popular dessert at the yōshoku-style Dosanko restaurant in Canada, this amazake rice pudding is made using organic brown rice koji and also boasts azuki beans, house-made vanilla ice cream and kinako (soy bean powder).

Amazake Meringue

French restaurant La Conserverie recently debuted a new apricot sorbet dessert with fresh dill and broken shards of amazake meringue. They are clearly fans of amazake, having also previously offered a savoury tajarin pasta dish with cockles and amazake.
Amazake: What we think
  • Kateline Porritt
    Head of Trends, Egg Soldiers
    "A non-polarising flavour, a plethora of health benefits, dairy free and flexible usage - any product developer's dream product! I’m excited to see whether it can get a hold in the UK market and what innovations come from it: iced drinks, a decaf hot drink that’s not a Chai latte, desserts, soft serve?

    "Historically, cold 'milky' type drinks aren’t always easily adopted in the UK and drinks with a savoury edge tend to follow the same pattern – some novelty hype at the start but a dwindling in interest over time as we revert to our staple favourites. I always wished horchata could have made more impact.

    "That being said, we’ve had a burst of bone broths, kefir and kombucha over the last few years and another option (perhaps a more drinkable one) could push our palates over into a more accepting space."
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