Sake Update III.
At the end of the last post, I'd pressed the sake and bottled some as nigorizake. The rest is sitting cold in my lagering fridge, and I'll rack it in a few days, pasteurize it, and let it bulk age for about two months. Then it'll get bentonite, filtering, repasteurizing, and bottling. Then drinking! In the meanwhile, I've got cleanup to do.
One of the fortunate side effects of making sake is the lees, or sake kasu. Kasu is composed of yeast, koji, spent rice and unextracted sake left over after pressing. Fortunately it is really useful in the kitchen, a lot like its soy-sister: miso. So I made a tasty weekend dinner for my lovely wife to showcase a couple of its various uses.
- Kasuzuke Black Cod and Halibut
- 1 pound Kasu
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 T light miso
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1 1/2 pounds fish, preferably 4-6 oz steaks with (well-scaled) skin on.
I used a Black Cod steak, and a nice piece of Halibut fillet. Think fatty, firm fish not oily. Black Cod, Salmon, Halibut, work great. Heck I used Pompano once and it was great. Really killer fresh Kingfish (though typically considered very oily) might work too, if it was caught that day.
Combine the kasu, miso, sugar, mirin and a cup of water in a bowl and whisk together. In a pyrex baking dish or plastic tub of some kind, pour some of the marinade on the bottom, then place the fish in and pour the rest of the marinade over. Make sure the fish is covered. Then lid it or plastic wrap it, and into the fridge for three days at least.
Mmmm smells like sake.
After three days, you can go ahead and cook it. Or leave it there for a while longer, no worries.
Preheat your oven to broil. Spray a baking sheet or broiler pan with oil. Take out the fish and wipe off most, but not all of the marinade with a brush or paper towel. Arrange on the sheet and broil for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway, until it's golden brown and starting to flake.
Serve toasty warm and dig in with chopsticks. The fish flakes nicely, and the kasu gives it an awesome sweet-tart-salt-sake flavor that it very unique. Just watch for bones, if you're not using a boneless fillet.
You can save and reuse the marinade a couple times. Just use your nose. If it smells pleasantly of sake, it's good. If it's growing fuzzies and smells like low tide, then ditch it, obviously.
- Soup: Kasu jiru
So I made one up.
Step One in a lot of Japanese cooking is the dashi, fresh fish stock that is found somewhere in many, many Japanese dishes. Basically it's a quick stock of katsuobushi, (dried, fermented, smoked, and shaved Bonito) and kombu, (dried kelp). For this round I decided to go a little more on the fish route, and instead of using katsuobushi, I made iriko dashi.
Iriko, are dried tiny little sardines. They haven't been smoked like the katsuobushi, and so their flavor makes for a fishier soup, which I thought would go well with the kasu. The recipe for the dashi came from Elizabeth Andoh's Washoku, an excellent and beautiful guide to Japanese home cooking. I recommend it highly.
- 15-20 small Iriko, trimmed (pop off the head, scoop out the guts as best you can. As you can see I kind of forgot to do this. I don't think it really hurt anything.)
- 4 1/4 cups cold water
- 10-12 square inches of kombu
- 1 dried shiitake mushroom
Now to make the soup. Put a tablespoon or so of kasu in a serving bowl. Add a dash of stock, then whisk to get the cold kasu warmed up and dissolved. Add a pinch of dried seaweed, wakame, if you've got it. Then ladle some more stock in and add a dash of soy sauce to counter the sweet kasu. Sprinkle on some green onions or, in my case, fresh chives. Done. Soup. Like miso, but more sake-y.
You could add cubes of tofu if you wanted to, and it would be very similar to miso soup. I was fresh out. I'll probably make a more complex soup later on.
- Madrona Smoked Scallops
My thought was to try an wok smoke something with the bark, as you might wok smoke with tea leaves. It makes a good tea, what kind of smoke would it produce? Experiment time.
I had three large sea scallops, so I sliced them in half into six smaller scallops. More surface area for smoke, and twice the value! They went into a marinade of:
- a tablespoon of mirin
- a tablespoon of soy sauce
- a teaspoon of sesame oil
- a few minced chives
- a bit of grated ginger
- a bit of minced garlic.
Put my wok on high, and put a folded over piece of aluminum foil in the bottom. Otherwise cleanup will be a royal PITA.
Next I took my veggie steamer, gave it a spray with some oil, and arranged the scallops on it. Soon as the bark started to smolder I set the steamer in the wok, put the lid on and turned down the heat to medium. Kitchen fan on full blast, I smoked the scallops for about 10 minutes until they were done.
Meanwhile I knocked up a sauce. I didn't know what the scallops were ultimately going to taste like, so I just got creative. Some decent homemade Ranch Dressing? Check. Medium-Sweet Soy Sauce? Check. Rooster Sauce (sriracha)? Check. Not bad. Not bad at all!
Arranged the scallops on a bed of the sauce, with a squirt of wasabi and some chives. Only four actually made it to the table, as two fell apart after smoking and were eaten by a hungry cook.
They were delicious, but not at all what I thought they'd taste like. Despite the heavy Asian influence of the recipe, the Madrona had a real hardwood smoke character that I reminded me more of barbecue. Honestly, you could totally give these a light dusting of BBQ rub before smoking and they'd be excellent. Or steam some duck or chicken, dust it with BBQ rub, then wok smoke it for 'BBQ on a Rainy Day.'
As it was it was still pretty great, for an experiment. Next time I'm inclined to try throwing other things on the foil with the bark. A Star Anise? Brown Sugar? Some whole Coriander and Cumin Seeds? Mmm possibilities...
Finally, to complete the dinner I made a quick salad, and steamed some rice with furikake on top. Served with the Nigorizake that gave it rise, the Kasu Dinner was a delicious success.