Monday, May 30, 2011

Yaki Kasu

Yaki Kasu

Kasu snacks are the pork scratchings of sake production, industrial by-products that have become beloved foodstuffs in their own right. When sake has fully fermented, it can be filtered to remove the starchy solids. There are a couple of different methods for squeezing the lees or kasu to extract most of the precious alcohol; hand-wrung kasu comes in soft lumps and contains more residual alcohol, while machine-pressed kasu looks like thick sheets of paper and is less alcoholic.

Kasu has a range of uses. It can be added to winter soups or used to pickle vegetables. Sake manju are sweet buns flavored with kasu, and an almost-instant version of the fortifying winter drink amazake can be made by those who want a similar flavor without the 3-day process of making amazake from scratch (simply dissolve kasu in hot water and add grated ginger and sugar or honey to taste).

I had also heard that you could grill sheets of sugared kasu, so when I found raw kasu for sale at Uwajimaya, I decided to try. I don't have a grill and I didn't have any real recipe, so there is probably a method that would be better/or more authentic. I just sprinkled a sheet of kasu with a thick layer of sugar and stuck it under the grill until the caramel bubbled and the edges crisped. The result was sticky, chewy, sweet, and surprisingly boozy--like butterscotch's exotic and intense cousin. One of my odder experiments, but something I'd definitely try again.


timea said...

Sounds great. I have to try your recipe too. Is it in the fridge with the tofu stuff at Uwajimaya?
BTW: Just heard about kasu first time when I was up in Vancouver B.C. in the spring. There is a sake brewery on Granville Island, they sell it. They had some articles posted in the store about local restaurants using their kasu.

Julia said...

yes, it's over by the tofu and natto. i'd love to compare it with the stuff from BC sometime.