So, a couple weeks ago I was on South River Miso's website, ordering a couple of bottles of gluten free, soy free tamari.
Wait, WHAT?!?!?! SOY FREE SOY SAUCE? Seriously?
Yeah, it is true - South River Miso makes gluten free soy free tamari out of chickpeas. Not familiar with South River Miso? Well, now is the time to get familiar - they are a great little company in Massachusettes that makes small batches of delicious misos by hand. Most of their misos are soy-based, but they also make two delicious soy-free varieties: azuki and chickpea. Since tamari is a byproduct of the miso-making process, those clever folks use their soy free misos to make a soy-free tamari. Brilliant! After loving the misos for ages, I found out about the tamari last year, and completely fell in love with their azuki variety. I stretched that bottle out over the course of about 10 months, treating each drop like liquid gold. Once the new batch of chickpea tamari was available for purchase, I had to jump at the chance to order a couple of bottles. It is incredible; salty, rich, almost buttery.
Anyway, while I was tamari shopping, I was hit with the realization that I needed to buy something else to reach the $25 purchase minimum. Last time I bought something on South River's site, I picked up a copy of the The Little Book of Miso as a way to reach that tricky $25; it is loaded with awesome recipes that all use miso. But, since I already had the book, I needed something else, and not eating soy, my options were limited. Then I saw the jackpot: BROWN RICE KOJI!
What's koji, you ask?
Koji is Aspergillus oryzae , a special type of mold. Rice is treated with koji, and is then used as a starter to ferment a variety of traditional Japanese foods, like miso, tamari, saké, and amazaké. While most people are familiar with the first three, amazaké is slightly less well-known, but is my absolute new favorite of the bunch. It is made of cooked rice that has been fermented with koji-treated rice, and is served as a fermented beverage or can be served like a pudding. The enzymes created during the fermentation process break down the rice starch into unrefined sugars, resulting in a sweet liquidy mash. Here's a nice description from our friends at South River Miso : "Amazaké (pronounced ah-mah-ZAH-kay) means literally "sweet sake". It is a delicious, creamy hot rice drink with a "...rich, ambrosial flavor...most popular during the winter months, especially at New Year’s. Rich in natural sugars, it has long served as a sweetening agent in Japanese cookery." It can be used in place of sugar in many recipes, and is especially nice for baking." Traditionally, amazaké was served as a simple beverage, sometimes as street food, but has since gained popularity in desserts, puddings, and in other foods. And not only is it delicious, amazaké is super easy to digest because all those enzymes start digesting the grain during the fermentation process!
I've been intrigued by amazaké ever since reading about it in Paul Pitchford's Healing with Whole Foods last year. I wanted to try it, and started a search. Grainnassance makes very tasty looking amazaké shakes that are sold at tons of grocery stores and food co-ops. But unfortunately, I couldn't find their pure rice amazaké anywhere, just blends containing nuts or other ingredients I can't eat, and all of their amazaké contains xanthan gum, which I avoid. I wanted to try making it myself, but finding koji culture seemed even trickier than finding amazaké. Sure, I figured I could find it online somewhere, but it wasn't a really urgent issue, and the desire to make it faded away to the back of my mind. FAded away, that is, until I stumbled across the koji on my tamari shopping spree. Suddenly, all my amazaké yearnings flooded back, and I knew it was meant to be.
I love fermenting things. Knowing that all sorts of friendly little friendly are hard at work long after I'm done is a wonderfully satisfying feeling. It's kind of like at work when you pass off a project to the next person in the process, knowing you've done you're part and now it is up to someone else to finish the job.
I checked on it a few times while it fermented, stirring it and smelling the sweet yeasty goodness. After about 9 hours, I tasted it. What an amazing transformation! It was incredibly sweet, with a deep, nutty flavor that was totally out of this world. The grains had softened, and after stirring the mixture, it became a thick mush. Per the instructions, I simmered it with water to stop fermentation, and was left with a thick, creamy porridge. This was the most amazing rice pudding I'd ever tasted in my life, thick and sweet and super flavorful - who knew rice, water, and fancy mold could do that?! I was now the proud owner of about 5 cups of homemade amazaké base. Hurrah!
The next morning, I made a warm amazaké latté, blending some of the base with water and a scoop of Dandy Blend (gluten free dandelion beverage, see note about it at the bottom of this post). It was totally kick ass. I can't wait to try making a hot amazaké carob drink. After the success with the latté, I have been experimenting with other ways to use it and have been thinking of many more tasty recipes ideas - salad dressings, gravies, smoothies, custards, oh my! I have a little recipe for amazaké muffins up my sleeve that might get whipped out tonight. Ooooh, more amazaké recipes to come!
So, is it Candida friendly? Um, not so much; the naturally occurring sugars that show up after the fermentation process are probably much higher than I'd like to know, and the koji culture is mold and smells pretty darn yeasty. This, by all accounts, is totally not in the ACD plan. However, now that I know I have Lyme Disease, my guess is that these symptom flare ups have more to do with Lyme than Candida. Despite this, I know I still need to watch my sugar and yeast intake, especially once I start on antibiotics; I have felt better the last couple weeks without eating fruit or any simple sugars. But c'est la vie, I'm gonna cheat a little with this, and see how it goes - moderation is the trick, right? ; )
HOMEMADE BROWN RICE AMAZAKÉ
adapted from South River Miso amazaké recipe: http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/pg/22-Amazake.html
yield about 5 cups amazaké base
2 1/2 cups dry short brown rice (4 cups cooked)
1 1/2 cups brown rice koji
water for cooking + 2 c filtered water
thermometer (helpful for monitoring temperatures)
heating pad or hot water bags/bottles
cooler or insulated bag
- Cook brown rice per desired method. Once done, stir rice from top to bottom to mix. Transfer 4 cups of cooked, hot brown rice to a clean glass or ceramic bowl, and let it cool to between 110* F - 130* F, stirring occassionally (about 5-10 minutes).
- Stir koji into brown rice, mixing quickly so rice does not cool too much. You want the rice/koji mixture to almost fill the bowl so the heat is conserved. The mixture will be thick, but will get thinner/more mushy as it ferments. Cover the bowl immediately.
- Put bowl in a warm place for 5-10 hours, trying to keep the temperature of the rice between 115*-130*. Ways to do this:
- You can incubate Amazaké in the bottom of your oven over the pilot light.
- You can also use a hot water bath with a larger bowl, keeping the water 130-140º F.
- MY METHOD: Wrap bowl in an electric heating pad (hot water bottles might work too) and put in an insulated cooler or cooler bag. Make sure the heating pad stays turned on as much as possible - or if using hot water bags, refill often with hot water.
- Stir mixture every couple of hours with a sterilized wooden or plastic spoon (metal is too reactive and will do weird things to fermentation). The grain should become softer and smell sweet if it is fermenting properly. If after 5 hours it is not sufficiently sweet to your taste, let it ferment 2-4 hours longer. When the fermentation is complete, the mixture will be sweet tasting, and the individual grains will be soft. If you let it ferment too long, it will become swampy and alcohol will develop, so make sure to watch it closely near the end!
- Once your amazaké is done, you need to stop fermentation by cooking it. Heat 2 cups of filtered water in a saucepan until it simmers. Add amazaké to water and stir to mix, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes on low, stirring often so it doesn't burn or stick. Store mixture in sterilized glass jars. Will keep for about 1 week, and it can be frozen.
- Original recipe called for 3 cups of uncooked rice to get 4 cups of cooked rice. I ended up with a TON of extra rice, so I brought down the quantity to 2 1/2 cups uncooked rice.
- I fermented it for about 9 hours, my temperature was probably closer to 110-120*. It tasted very sweet and was quite soft and mushy, so it seemed done to me. My amazaké did not turn super liquidy during fermentation - just very moist and mushy.
- You can use any cooked grain - I will be trying millet next batch!
- Like any fermentation projects, use very clean utensils, bowls, and storage jars so you don't grow any funky bacteria.
BASIC AMAZAKÉ BEVERAGE
recipe from South River Miso
Mix 1 part amazaké base with 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c water in a saucepan and just bring to a boil. Season with a pinch of salt, and serve in cups. If desired, top each serving with a dab of grated gingerroot.
yield 1 serving
Please all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to saucepan and heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Pour into a warmed mug and serve!
TO USE AMAZAKÉ AS A SWEETENER
From South River Miso:
"Substitute 3 1/2 tablespoons Amazaké base for 1 tablespoon honey (or 2 tablespoons sugar) in any of your favorite preparations. Rich in enzymes, it is especially good in breads, cakes, pancakes, waffles, or muffins where it assists in the leavening process and adds a rich moistness."
A NOTE ON DANDY BLEND
Q. DandyBlend contains barley and rye. So, how can it contain no detectable gluten?
A. DandyBlend is made from extracts of barley and rye, not from barley and rye themselves. The roasted grains are mixed with the roasted roots, are ground, and then the water-soluble components (nutrients, minerals, biologically active substances) are leached out of the mash by hot water, just like you do when making tea. The liquid extract which is collected at the bottom is then spray dried to make the powder which we then call DandyBlend. Why no gluten? Gluten is not water soluble; it only dissolves in alcohol. Therefore, since no alcohol is used in the extracting process, all the gluten stays back in the mash. Tests done by Eliza-Tek Laboratories confirm the absence of detectable gluten in Dandy Blend.
Answer taken from http://www.dandyblend.com/faq.htm