Why is Amazake the “drip you drink”? Types and nutrition
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“Amazake” is a traditional Japanese beverage. This has been drunk continuously since the Kofun period, and has started receiving attention again recently due to its health and cosmetic benefits. On this occasion, I would like to introduce the attraction of Amazake and some good recipes.
What is “Amazake”?
This is a white cloudy fermented beverage made from “Komekoji (Aspergillus oryzae)” or “Sakekasu”. Although it has the name “sake” attached, nearly all products are classified as soft drinks. Of the products on the market, note that there are the two types of those that can be drunk straight as is and those that are drunk after being dissolved in hot water.
As they are seen outside shrines etc. in the New Year, they have a strong association with winter. If you drink hot “Amazake” with ginger added, it will really warm you up. However, it is said that it was also favored during the Edo era for its nutritional benefits, helping to prevent fatigue during the summer. There is a seasonal tradition in summer in which you see vendors walking around selling “Amazake”.
Types of “Amazake”
There are mainly two types of “Amazake”, those made with “Komekoji” and those made with “Sakekasu”.
“Komekoji” is basically steamed rice in which “Komekoji” are cultured. “Komekoji Amazake” adds “Komekoji” to steamed rice, and this is fermented. By fermenting the “Komekoji”, the starch in the rice turns into glucose and oligosaccharides giving it a natural sweet taste. It does not contain alcohol, so can be safely drunk by pregnant women, children, and drivers.
Sakekasu comes from the “Moromi (raw unrefined sake)” that is fermented by adding yeast to “Komekoji ”. When “Moromi” is refined, it becomes “Sake”, and what is left after squeezing is “Sakekasu”. “Sakekasu Amazake” is made by dissolving Sakekasu in boiling water. This has a thick, rich taste, and as there is no sweetness it is necessary to sweeten it using sugar etc. This can also be made easily in your home.
Sakekasu contains approximately 8% alcohol. When it is made into “Amazake”, the level of alcohol will decrease, but a small amount may remain. In Japan, if the alcohol content is less than 1%, it is sold as a soft drink, so even Sakekasu sold as soft drinks may contain alcohol. Be sure to check the ingredients when drinking “Amazake”.
“Amazake” typically contains a rich array of essential nutrients for managing your bodily condition, maintaining health, and promoting beauty, such as essential amino acids, and vitamins, including the B group of vitamins for stimulating the metabolism. Additionally, the “Komekoji” work to enable digestion and absorption efficiently within the body without placing strain on the body. This is a perfect drink to have in place of breakfast during the summer when you tend to have less appetite. In particular, “Komekoji amazake” is sometimes called the drinking “drip”.
Recovery from fatigue & measures against cold sensitivity
“Komekoji amazake” contains glucose that is an energy source for the brain. It is absorbed quickly and becomes energy very efficiently, so is essential for recovery from fatigue. When consumed as energy, this generates heat, so is a good measure against cold sensitivity.
Safe for babies as well! Regulates the condition of your stomach.
“Komekoji amazake” includes dietary fiber and oligosaccharides that feed good bacteria. Additionally, the enzymes also assist with digestion and absorption. It has a good nutritional balance, and in case of “Komekoji amazake” does not contain alcohol, so it can be used as baby food in place of sugar.
Recommended recipes for using “Amazake”
“Amazake” can not only be drunk but can also be utilized with food as a condiment with sweetness and flavor.
If you use “Amazake” as an ingredient in baked confectionery, such as scones and muffins etc., it gives them a gentle sweetness. It is also very suitable for use with yoghurt and soymilk. If you place finely cut fruit and “Amazake” into a blender, you can make a smoothie, and we also recommend making jam with “Amazake” in place of sugar and combining it with fruit.
Meat dishes, fish dishes, stews
Use the raw liquid type that you dilute before use, rather than the type that you drink straight. If you cook meat and fish after marinating it for half a day in “Amazake”, it will become soft and delicious. If you soak the vegetables as well, you can make a type of pickles.
Don’t drink too much!
However good a product is, it is always necessary to take care not to drink too much.
Although it differs by product, typically “Amazake” will have 17.9g of sugar and 81kcal per 100mL. If we consider that Coca-cola has 11.3g of sugar and 45kcal per 100mL, we can see that “Amazake” is high in terms of both sugar and calories. It is best to limit intake to one cup per day.
Additionally, as “Komekoji amazake” increases blood sugar immediately it is drunk, those suffering with diabetes should take care when drinking it.
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