Late Winter Kasu Jiru Soup with Chicken, Turnips and Nanohana 小蕪菜の花鳥肉粕汁
Meet Kasu Jiru: Kasu-jiru is soup made with sake lees. The sake taste is pronounced and the sweet, fruiting bouquet of fermented sake mash is obvious as well. We made this with late winter veggies and chicken.
Winter Sake Soup
Kokabura turnips are in season through out the winter in Kyoto and nanohana (rape blossoms) signal the coming of spring. Winter is of course the time that sake is being made, so sake kasu is only available this time of year.
Late Winter Kasu Jiru: The Ingredients
From the left, kokakura (small turnip), nanohana (rape blossoms), sake kasu (sake lees) and chicken.
Kokabura is translated as ‘turnip’ in my dictionary, my experience with turnips are that they are rather dry and tough. These Japanese ‘kokabura‘ turnips are quite soft and juicy though and so much so that the first time we made this dish the inner part of the kokabura just melted with only the surface retaining its shape. This time we cooked them just 7 or 8 minutes. They were tender and intact, with some fresh veggie taste still in them.
The nanohana rape blossoms still had no yellow flowers on them, just buds. They just appeared in stores this week. They are tender and rather hefty and ‘meaty’ for greens and pleasantly bitter. These we cooked for just 3 minutes or so.
Kasu Jiru: Adding Kasu to Soup Broth
Our kasu jiru is very thick with plenty of kasu. We make a base dashi with three kinds of shaved fish (comes in a tea bag), some salt and mirin. We simmer the chicken well and then add the kokabura and kasu. With the kasu we sometimes add a little bit of miso paste, to deepen the flavor, but not enough to taste directly.
The key here is good, fresh ingredients and not too much cooking.
Kasu Jiru Served – detail
Kasu Jiru Served with Black Shichimi
Usually shichimi (seven spice) is red, but the best, in our opinion, is the more rare black shimichi.
Kasu Jiru Served with Black Shichimi – detail
My favorite thing about this wonderful dish is the taste and fragrance of the fermented sake mash. It is pronounced and unlike any soup or stew that I have ever had anywhere in the world. Maybe in the Western countries we can use beer or spirits mash in a similar way?