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So...you've made your fist batch of sake. You've pressed your lees and now you've got about three pounds of pasty kasu. I know what you're thinking: what the heck do I do with this stuff? I get asked this question pretty often, actually, often enough to make this post. The answer to your question is: lotsa stuff! Sake kasu has almost as many uses as miso, but it's not quite so popular in this country because of its rarity. The Japanese find it very useful, however.
In Japan, fresh kasu becomes available in Spring as all the sake kuras press their sake. They then sell their kasu to grocers for public consumption or to farmers for use as livestock feed. In America, we don't have quite the same heritage with sake as the Japanese do, so kasu generally isn't easily found in our markets. But we're homebrewers, right? We make our own kasu!
By the way: now that you have some kasu, the best way to store it until you use it all is in your freezer. Just break it up into what you feel are useful portions and store in zip-top freezer bags. It'll keep this way for up to 6 months.
So, to give you guys some ideas on what to do with your kasu, here are a few of the super-secret (okay, not any more...) Taylor-MadeAK kasu recipes:
Kasu-zuke Tsukemono: Kasu Pickles!
Cucumbers in this recipe are just an example, this method can be used with just about any kind of hard vegetable.5.00 ea (1 lb) Cucumbers 1.66 tb Salt 0.25 c Water 10.0 oz Kasu 1-2 tb Sugar 1.33 ts Salt Dash of shochu or sake to soften kasu if necessary
Salt-pickle the cucumbers by sprinkling whole cucumbers with salt and then adding 1/4 cup of water to help build a brine. Add a weight on top and let stand overnight to dehydrate. The next day, mix the kasu, sugar, and salt in a small bowl (add some shochu or sake if you're using dry kasu, it'll help soften it). Set aside while you go check on the pickles. If the cucumbers are limp, they're ready - just pat dry with a paper towel, then clean out the container you used to salt them in and re-use it for the next step. Now, add half of the kasu into the bottom of the container, put the cucumbers on top, then spoon the rest of the kasu over top and spread it around to cover the cucumbers. Put a weight back on top of the pickles and wait 3 to 5 days before serving.
Kasu Marinated Halibut
Just about any fish can be used here, and so can pork!1.00 c Sake kasu 0.50 c Sugar 1.50 c Mirin 2.00 lb Halibut fillets, cut into half-pound servings 4.00 tb Ginger (grated)
In a food processor combine kasu, ginger, and sugar; process until well-blended. Add mirin and process to a paste. In a large nonreactive baking dish spread half of kasu paste and top with halibut fillets in a single layer. Rub remaining mixture over fish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Remove fish from marinade, rinse quickly under running water and pat dry. Sear fish, turning once, about 4 minutes on each side and serve immediately garnished with tsukemono.
Kasu-Jiru - Sake Lees Soup
Trust me, tastes way better than it sounds!2.00 oz Daikon (peeled & sliced) 1.00 ea Carrot (peeled & sliced) 1.00 ea Potato (peeled & cubed) 1.00 ea Kamaboko fish cake (sliced into half-circles) 3.00 oz Konnyaku (cubed) 1.00 ea Aburage fried tofu (cubed) 4.00 oz Kasu 4.00 c Dashi broth (make it yourself or use powdered) 0.50 tsp Salt 0.25 c Scallion (chopped)
Bring dashi to a simmer while you prepare your other ingredients. Once it's simmering, add the carrots, daikon, potato, konnyaku, kamaboko, and aburage; simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt, then whisk some of the hot broth into the kasu to thin it out. Add the thinned kasu to the soup, return to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped scallion.