Sake Kasu Zanmai: What is Sake Kasu? 酒粕
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
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.