Sake By-Products Create Super Nutritious Vegan Mayo: Ine to Agave
Ine to Agave Brewery, located on the Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture, northwestern Japan, is restoring an aging country town through fermented products, especially sake.
Part 1 introduced the founder, Shuhei Okazumi and his diverse projects. Here, we’ll focus on their new product, Koji Mayo, which will be distributed in the U.S. as well.
Sake kasu: a treasure trove of nutrients
Sake kasu, while a byproduct of brewing, still has the aroma and umami of sake. By taking advantage of this flavor, sake lees has been used in cooking in Japan. It’s leaned on for pickling vegetables, marinating grilled fish and meat and for dissolving in miso soup. Not only for Japanese cuisine, it also lends a savory aroma when kneaded into bread dough and baked.
More noteworthy than the flavor, however, is its nutritional profile. It is often used in health and beauty food products and other products for its rich vitamin B complex, which regulates the skin and mucous membranes. Rich in dietary fiber, it helps regulate the intestinal environment. Also, it is said to prevent obesity because of its components that suppress the absorption of sugar and eliminate fat and cholesterol. Studies show it prevents serious diseases like cerebral infarction and arteriosclerosis.
Despite such nutritional treasures, sake kasu is increasingly thrown away since it does not fit into the modern Japanese diet. Ine to Agave is trying to rediscover the value of sake kasu in a quest for zero-waste operations.
The healthiest vegan mayo
With no animal ingredients, vegans and people with egg allergies can also eat it. The sake kasu is made from naturally grown rice and contains no additives. But the appeal of this paste is that it is healthier than other mayonnaise, including vegan ones. Containing less oil and only half the calories of the average mayonnaise, it contains four times as much protein. In addition, it is high in heat-killed probiotics, which the latest science is focusing on for its ability to activate intestinal bacteria and improve gut biome.
With Hakko Lab, a strategic co-brand launched with several food manufacturers, this new condiment promises to reach American consumers, where vegan products serve a thriving vegan community.
Sake kasu for sustainability
Koji Mayo will be produced at the Sanaburi Factory, a food processing plant that will open this April. Sanaburi is the name of a custom passed down in Akita farms for a feast at the end of rice planting season. In the area, farmers used to grow rice and make sake from it, then distill the sake kasu to make a spirit called shochu. Finally, they would spread the remaining sake kasu as fertilizer on the rice fields for the next cultivation. Historically, the Sanaburi feast was held at the end of the rice planting season, when townspeople drank the shochu they had made while giving thanks to the God of rice paddies.
Rendering of Sanaburi Factory
“I want to create the future of Oga after we die,” Okazumi says. The story of the hero of fermentation will continue until the foundation is laid for a future where the peninsula is teeming with people and full of vitality.
Saki Kimura is an accomplished journalist specializing in sake. With a journalism certificate from UCLA, she's reported on sake consumption worldwide. Currently the director of SAKETIMES International, she writes, translates, and promotes sake, focusing on overseas distribution and international breweries. Her expertise has made her a respected figure in the industry.