Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the saga of the rice steamer

I have an electric rice cooker, and I love it.  I can put my rice and water in the pot, set the timer, and it will be done when I need it.  This is not, however, a rice steamer.  In a rice steamer, the water and rice are separated by a perforated layer so that the rice is never boiled, only steamed.  Good luck finding one.

A large rice steamer is necessary for making sake because steaming rice cooks the rice without making it so gooey and sticky.  The individually separated grains of rice have more surface area to interact with the  koji and yeast, and are therefore more productive.

However, getting a rice steamer proved to be a bit of a hassle.  I borrowed a rice steamer that was too small, I attempted to rig up a steamer using the things I owned around the house, and finally, I scrambled to the local Asian grocery to buy an overpriced authentic rice steamer while my rice was draining at home.

DAY 2: Shubo (yeast mash)
- Smack yeast pack
- Wash and rinse rice (12 oz) several times with cold tap water to remove starches (15 min)
- Cover rice with 2 in of cold water and steep for 55 min
- While rice is steeping, add yeast to the 2 cups of prepared water from DAY 1 (61 deg, 1 hr)

- Run to bus stop, miss the bus, go back home
- Drain rice for 1.25 hrs
- Run to bus stop, make bus (yay!), buy rice steamer, take bus home

- Clean rice steamer, start water boiling
- Lay down cheesecloth and layer rice evenly in steamer, steam for 1 hr
- Add koji (4 oz) to yeast/water mix (62 deg, 1hr)
- Check water level 30 min into steam

- Remove rice from steamer and "fluff" to separate and cool grains
- Add rice and chilled 1/2 cup water from DAY 1 into fermentation vessel (5 gal bucket)
- Stir and make sure temperature is below 75 deg (69)
- Add yeast/koji/water mix and stir slowly for several min (67 deg)
- Place in warm dark place and try to get temp to 72 deg
- My house is 63 deg, so 80 deg water bath in laundry tub to raise temp (2x)

- Move to lighter but warmer spot in front of heat vent
- Stir before bed (70 deg)

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