Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sake Brewing - Day 1, 2, 3, ...

On the first day of brewing per se. I steamed 3 kg (6.6 lb) of rice, and mixed it with Water, Yeast and Koji to start the actual process.

The proportions of Rice to Koji to Water are as follow : for 1 lb of Rice, use 0.25 (1/4) lb of Koji and 1.7 lb (about 1.7 quart) of water.

Weights of Rice or Koji are for dry rice, before it is being steamed.  Actually, the Koji does not weigh much more than dry rice, so it won't make a difference. Meaning that if you steam 1 lb of dry rice, use 1/4 lb of Koji and 1.7 quart of water. Of course, add the Yeast to this.

I used regular tap water to rinse and soak the rice. Until the rice is steamed, there are not much worries to have about contamination. any spore or mold will be destroyed by the steam. After the steaming, everything has to be extremely clean. I cleaned up the container bucket I used with an Iodophor solution. From now on, all objects in contact with the Mash should be sterile.

This rice is steamed the same way the Koji rice was steamed. Rinse the rice several times until the water is clean, let it soak for  a while so it absorbs enough water, then steam it for 1 hour, until actually cooked.

For brewing container, I am using a 5 gallons plastic bucket from Lowes - the plastic is food grade. I drilled a hole on top of the lid to insert a rubber grommet. 

In this grommet I inserted a water bubble air stop that lets fermentation gases out but not let oxygen in. 

Basically, once the rice is steamed, you pour it into the bucket and cover it with clean water, the koji, and the yeast.

Then, you wait... For the first days, the temperature should be kept around 20 C or 68 F.

Everyday I mix the mash by hand - after having cleaned my hands with rubbing alcohol to make sure I don't introduce alien moulds in it.  30 seconds to one minute is enough. 

Brewing - Day 1 - Dec 26.
On the first day (December 26) the water was covering the rice.
However, on the second day the rice had absorbed all of the water and the whole thing was like a big rice cake. 

Brewing - Day 3 - the rice is floating on the brew.

On the third day, the rice was beginning to break down, and the cake was floating on liquid at the bottom of the bucket - Which is why you have to mix everything. 

On the fourth day (December 30) , the rice is breaking down more, and the mixture already has a sort of Sake smell and taste to it. 

I will leave the Bucket in this room for one or more day, then move it so a room at a lower temperature - about 15 C or 58 F

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sake Brewing - Days 3 & 4

I did not post anything on Day 3 as nothing really exciting was going on - I am still developing the Koji. The rice started to cover with white fibers. It has developed a light smell. 

Koji - Day 3

On Day 4, it seems to be clumping a little bit and it has now a very nice aroma - not cheesy at all - I don't understand who said it smelled like cheese, it certainly does not smell like  a French Cheese anyway.

Koji - Day 4

The grains are still quite firm. According to the recipe, it is now ready. I will stop the growth this afternoon and refrigerate the Koji, and then get ready for the actual brewing...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sake Brewing - Day Two

Nothing fancy today - Just mix the rice and let the Koji develop. I must have put the container in the cooler last night around 10:00 p.m. No smell has developed during the night. The rice seems to be a little more yellowish than last night, but I might just be mistaken.

Again, what is very important is cleanliness - so before I open the container to mix the Koji I spray my hands with rubbing alcohol, and let them dry before I handle it.


I also use Iodophor to clean up and sanitize containers. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sake Brewing - Day one

So it has been several years since I first thought about brewing my own Sake. So here we go, I decided to go ahead. I ordered all I needed and am now getting started. I will record the experiment...

To make Sake we need only 4 main ingredients:
  • Water (水)

  • Rice (米)

  • Kome-koji (米麹)

  • Yeast (酒母)
Rice won’t convert itself to sugar for the yeast to ferment. That’s where kome-koji (just koji for short) comes in.

Kome Koji is rice that has had mold grown on it (koji-kin). This mold secretes enzymes that will convert starch to sugar. Then the yeasts will convert the sugar into alcohol. 

1 - Making the Kome Koji

Ingredients : 

800 g of rice. I used Botan Calrose medium grain rice. There are better rices, but this one was readily available in Town, at a very reasonable price...     

1 teaspoon of Koji kin (the mold). I ordered mine online. There are a number of sites that sell it.

Lots of clear water

Procedure :

First rinsing water
Take 800 g (1.8 lb) of rice and rinse it thoroughly until the water is really clear. The first time you rinse the rice, the water gets really cloudy with rice dust. You have to rinse time and time  again until the water is clear. I used tap water at this stage.

Well rinsed rice
Soak the rice in filtered water for a 2 hours in the fridge. For this stage on, I will only used filtered water or distilled water. Any bleach or Chlorine, or Iron would be very detrimental, so it is very important to not use tap water in the process.  

The Steamer ready to receive the rice to drain
Once the rice has soaked, drain it well. I put a piece of cheese cloth in the bamboo steamer and poured the rice onto it.

Steam it - I steamed my rice for 2 hours, but I used a bamboo steamer, with a stainless steel one, it may take a little less. 

 You need to taste the rice for texture. It needs to be "al dente", neither mushy nor too hard.

Let the rice cool down to 30 C (until it is not hot for you to touch it) and transfer it into a clean container.

Sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon of Koji Kin.  

I used a small tea strainer to get a better evenness of the koji kin on the rice.

Mix well the rice and Koji-kin

Install the container of Koji mix in a dark warm place at 30 C. (86 F)

I placed it in an ice chest full of water. It is equipped with an aquarium heater to keep the temperature even.

Note : Cleanliness is extremely important. If any unwanted spore of alien mold or yeast gets involved in the process, it will ruin it. I clean all equipment with an Iodophor solution to disinfect them, and spray my hands with alcohol before touching the rice. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apple Cider Pork

A recipe from my good friend Carole Huort

Note : the Apple cider should be the real one, it contains alcohol. What is sold in the US is generally Apple juice with gas in it - this is NOT Apple cider. If you can't find any, use red beer instead (Killians red style)

  • 2 lb pork meat (not too lean)
  • ½ lb smoked bacon (salted if can't get smoked) in thick slices.
  • 3 onions
  • 2 shallots
  • bouquet garni (thyme, laurel, parsley, savory)
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 bottle Apple cider (the one with alcohol in it, not the sparkling apple juice)
  • 5 apples
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Cut pork meat in cubes, about 1” sides.
Cut the apples in cubes, same size.
Cut the bacon in small cubes also.
Mince shallots and onions
In a heavy pot, lightly saute the porc meat in olive oil. Add bacon, onions and shallots, saute until golden.

Add ½ bottle cider, the herbs, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook on low heat for about one hour. Add more cider, and the apples. Cook one more hour.
Let it cool down.
Warm it up to serve it the next day, with more sauted apples, or an apple puree, and white rice.

Bon Appetit ! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grilled Duck Breasts

Very easy, and delicious...

Ingredients :
Duck Breasts (Magrets) – with Skin on (1 breast per guest)
Coarse ground black Pepper

Procedure :
Light up your grill, charcoal, gas or oven grill.
In a dish, mix salt and pepper – about 1/5 salt, 4/5 pepper
Rub the magrets in that mixture

Start grilling the magrets with the skin turned toward the heat. This will melt the fat and impregnate the meat with it., it also slightly isolates the meat from the heat. When the Skin is well grilled – crispy – turn the magrets so the meat is on the heat.
Stay there, make sure they are not overcooked, the grill must be very hot so the meat is seized in the surface and does not cook to deeply – Magrets should be eaten medium-rare.

Serve with :
  • small cubed potatoes sauted in olive oil (or even better in goose fat) with garlic.
  • Ginger and Cassis sauce (see other recipe)

Light red wine does very well with it – Saumur Champigny or St Joseph are really nice…

Thursday, November 25, 2010

`L"Auberge Utelloise

Great dinner at the AUBERGE UTELLOISE  in Utelle - Alpes Maritimes - France. 

Excellent Traditional French - Italian food.
After a great dish of Antipasti - Fresh tomatoes with anchovies, Egg plant, Wild mushrooms, artichokes, local smoked ham, mezclun salad...

We had some gnocchi with daube :

The gnocchi (sort of pasta made of potatoes and wheat flour) were home made by the lady of the house who was also waiting on us, the daube was perfect.

And an Italian Salad composed of local greens and tomatoes with some Viande des grisons (Smoked beef meat) and local cheese.

All the food was prepared by the Lady of the house - at the time of paying the very reasonable bill, they told us they did not take credit card but we could send them a check later, I went back to the car to bring back a check book. However, we found it very interesting that these people trusted us as they did, it says a lot of their honesty and kindness,

Utelle is a wonderful little town with an amazing church, If you ever visit the Arriere pays Nicois - the mountains North of Nice - please stop there and go eat at the Auberge Utelloise, you won't be disappointed.

Auberge Utelloise - Place de la Republique, 06450 Utelle.  Tel: 04 93 03 17 46 
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