This post is in conjunction with the Sake Gumi December 2021 theme Winter Food Traditions. Sake Gumi is Umami Mart's monthly club celebrating Japan's brewed beverage! Join today to try all three recipes with our club offerings.
Although we can not visit Japan again this year to join in on these festivities, the next best thing is to celebrate them from afar with recipes that are prevalent in Japan during the winter. Revel in the bounty of winter ingredients with recipes I'll be releasing this month as part of the Winter Food Traditions series. These recipes are specifically paired with sakes offered this month during Sake Gumi. However, I urge you to chart your own territories with other beverage pairings as well!
Sake kasu is abundant during the winter because sake-making is in full swing by the time December rolls around. Sake brewers are pressing their sakes and often giving away sake kasu (sake lees) which is a byproduct of sake-making. We are lucky enough to live near Den Sake Brewery in West Oakland, so I rang up Yoshi Sako last weekend and got a bag full of kasu at his brewery!
If you don't live near a sake brewery, sake kasu is often sold at Japanese markets. The lees themselves are white and pasty. They have a slightly sour and sweet aroma that smells just like a sake brewery.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy sake kasu is in Sake Kasu Tonjiru. It is warming and rustic. Every family has their own rendition, I like to add a little white miso for an extra savory punch.
This soup was extra cozy with a warm carafe of Tenmei Junmai, which is an offering for Level 2 Sake Gumi members this month.
4 cups dashi
4 oz sake kasu
1/2 lb thinly sliced pork belly
14 oz pack shirataki (yam noodle)
10 oz daikon, cut lengthwise through the middle and sliced into semi circle coins
1 gobo (burdock root) or 2 carrots, julienned
6 oz aburaage (fried tofu) or atsuage (thick fried tofu) cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp white miso
1. Reserve one cup of dashi into a bowl and break up the sake kasu in the dashi. I like to try and dissolve the kasu as much as I can in the dashi for a smoother final consistency in the soup.
2. Put the other three cups of dashi in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil and add the daikon and gobo (or carrots). Simmer until cooked, about 3-5 min.
3. Add the meat, tofu, and shirataki to the pot. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove any scum that may rise up during simmering.
4. Once everything looks cooked, turn off the heat and add the lees and mix.
5. Finally, dissolve the miso into the mixture slowly and mix well.
Kanpai with Tenmei Junmai! My plan is to have Sake Kasu Tonjiru on regular rotation this winter. I'm hoping it'll keep me warm and energized through the holidays!