April 20, 2015
Since this month commemorates Umami Mart’s Japanese beer and sake shop debut, here is another post on sake-related cooking.
Sakekasu (sake lees) is a quintessential Japanese ingredient because of the concept of mottainai (no waste!). Japanese people try not to waste anything. For example, after squeezing soy beans when making tofu, the leftover scraps (called okara) can be used as a meat substitute to make a light hambagu or for a dish called unohana with stir-fried carrots and mushrooms (Yoko’s recipe here). Another example is hoji tea: after green tea leaves are harvested, the stems are turned into hoji tea since there is still a lot of flavor in them.
Sakekasu is also the same thing. Once you squeeze the rice out to make sake, you are left with solids called kasu (literally meaning ‘waste’). You can marinate fish or meat with this sakekasu to add sake flavor and also to tenderize it. Yoko has used sakekasu before to make pickles too.
But here is a dessert you can make using sakekasu. Sake ice cream, made with sakekasu, is a light, palette-cleansing dessert compared to regular ice cream. I actually don’t like the flavor of sakekasu very much — it tastes too fermented and cloying for me — but this recipe tones down the edge, and the sake flavor is much more subtle. Here is how you make it.
300 gram sakekasu (what you can widely buy in the US contains 300 grams)
300ml apple juice (or apple cider)
375ml milk (whole is fine, or almond milk makes a vegan version)
75ml heavy cream (if you want to make it vegan, substitute this with almond milk)
60 grams sugar
One of the most common sakekasu you find here is this:
Some reputable sake breweries sell their own sakekasu, which is far more flavorful than this, but this will do the job.
First, put sakekasu and apple juice in a pot and turn up the stove.
Then try to mash up the sakekasu as much as you can.
Once it boils, you should be able to mix this into a paste like this:
You can also use a blender or food processor to make it pretty smooth.
Cool this to room temperature. Use 1/4 of this paste (about 150 grams) — you can save the rest in your fridge or freezer for future sakekasu ice cream.
Now add sugar and milk (and heavy cream):
If you have an ice cream machine, use it. If not, you can put the liquid into a shallow pan and put it in the freezer. Mix it every hour or so until the consistency becomes ice cream-like.
If you use ice cream machine, it will take about 20 minutes or so to reach this consistency:
Scoop and eat.
This is really refreshing. Since it’s made mostly with milk rather than heavy cream, it’s lighter. The sake flavor is very subtle. Since the alcohol evaporates when making the sakekasu paste, kids can eat it too.