Sake Kasu Zanmai: What is Sake Kasu?

Sake Kasu Zanmai: What is Sake Kasu? 酒粕

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Sake Lees: This is what is left after the sake has been pressed out of the mash. It is called ‘sake kasu’ in Japanese and it is used in home cooking in many ways to create wonderfully complex flavored dishes during the winter sake brewing season. Many traditional Japanese confection, cracker, snack companies and so on use a lot of kasu to flavor some of their products. Non-traditional things like ice cream, chocolate, bread and so on are flavored with kasu these days.

Sake kasu is a common sight in the fresh vegetable section of any grocery store in winter in Japan. The fragrance is quite fruity. Mechanically pressed sake kasu comes in ‘boards’, hard sheets of kasu, hand-pressed (teshibori) is looser and cumbly. The pictures below are of hand-pressed sake kasu. This was kasu made premium daiginjo sake and is made with Yamada Nishiki variety rice from Hyogo prefecture.

Teshibori Sake Kasu
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Again, teshibori means ‘hand-pressed’.

Sake kasu can be eaten as is, the texture is quite like cheese but the taste is fruity and obviously tastes of sake. This hand-pressed kasu still has quite a bit of alcohol content in it.

Opening 2 kilos of Teshibori Sake Kasu

Kasu-jiru (kasu soup): Base for soups and stews
Kasu-zuke (kasu marinade): Marinade fish and meat before grilling
Amazake (sweet sake): Melted in hot water, served with shredded ginger

Kasu can be lightly toasted and served with honey. Narazuke is pickled dark brown neri-kasu, kasu that has been allowed to age for several months.

In the next few days we will do some recipe articles based on sake kasu. We are calling the series, Sake Kasu Zanmai. Zanmai means to be luxuriously absorbed in something. Last year we did buri zanmai, a number of ways to enjoy yellowtail.

6 Responses to “Sake Kasu Zanmai: What is Sake Kasu?”

  1. FFichiban says:

    Ooohh this sounds interesting indeed! Especially the chocolate and ice cream hee hee :)

  2. etsuko says:

    I love SakeKasu! and also, often use it in cooking. I baked non sugar Sake kasu cookies for my friend. It tasted like cheese crackers.

  3. diva says:

    have never heard of this but if it’s cheese-like sake, i’m in! intrigued! i can never say no to cheese..wonder if you can put this in a toastie.

  4. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Foodies, Sorry for the slow reply (again).

    FFichiban, Yes, I don’t think that I have had kasu ice cream yet — I have had sake kasu ‘soft cream’, as ice milk is called here. Sake kasu chocolate I have had, and it was excellent. (I tried shochu and even shoyu chocolate this year.)

    etsuko, oh, like cheese crackers? that sounds really nice! we will have to try baking with sake kasu!

    diva, the texture is like cheese, not the tasteね. but yeah, sake kasu is great!!

  5. Melinda says:

    Hello! It all sounds good. I must confess that I’ve only used sake kasu a couple of times b/c its consistency kind of scares me. But I will try it again soon!

    Cheers,
    Melinda

  6. Stephina says:

    thank you for the information and imspiration! I melted some machine pressed sake kasu I got as a parting gift from a factory tour in Aboshi (outside of Himeji) with some yuzu marmelade and made an egg custard! Have I been drinking too much, or is this oshii des?

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