January 27, 2016

Searching for Good Uses for Sake Kasu/酒粕のいい使い道を探す

Now that I have almost 2 kg of sake kasu in the fridge, I have to think of good ways to use it up before it goes bad.

1. Sake kasu paste
1. 酒粕ペースト

The sake kasu I recently bought is called ita kasu (lit. sheet lees), which is hard to dissolve in water. Another type is bara kasu, which is crumbly.

So, I tore some sake kasu into pieces by hand, put it in a measuring cup, added some hot water from the thermos flask, let it sit for hours to dissolve. The paste turned out very soggy. I should have added much less water! Anyway, I can put in some more sake kasu later to achieve the desired texture.
You can put such sake kasu paste to any dish you like to give it additional flavor

2. Sake similar to nigori zake (lit. cloudy sake)
Just put some sake kasu paste to a glass of sake with some ice cubes.
2. にごり酒のようなお酒
Left: Sake kasu paste
Right: Glass of sake with some ice cubes
左: 酒粕ペースト
右: お酒と氷を入れたコップ

I added two tbsp of sake kasu paste.
Then, I stirred with a spoon. Perfect! I really liked it! Much, much better than regular sake!
2. Yaki (grilled) sake kasu
2. 焼き酒粕

When I searched for good uses for sake kasu, I found a simple recipe: simply grill pieces of sake kasu in a toaster oven. Another recipe says to sprinkle sugar on the grilled sake kasu.
I grilled two pieces in the toaster oven until partially browned.
Well, I didn't like it, with or without sugar.
Now I have to think of other uses for sake kasu!

Sake kasu contains about 8% alcohol (ethanol). I didn't want to evaporate the alcohol when making sake kasu paste, but if you do, you need to boil the sake kasu solution for some time, say, 2-3 minutes, to evaporate the alcohol.

January 24, 2016

Amazake Made from Sake Kasu (Lees)/酒粕で作った甘酒

Today, I bought a bag of sake kasu from a local sake brewery, Takachiyo Shuzo.
Well, I just had to, partly because I had to make another batch of amazake for my son, but mainly because this particular sake kasu was so cheap (2 kg, 500 yen).

It is more than five times cheaper than koji.

I searched for good recipes for amazake made from sake kasu. Some recipes say to tear sake kasu and soak it in cold water overnight to dissolve. I didn't want to wait that long, so I just tore some sake kasu into pieces, put it in a pot, added some water, brought to a boil, stirred well, left it covered with a lid for several minutes, reheated, stirred again. I added some sugar. (I left out salt.)

500 ml water
100 g sake kasu
3 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Optional: Ginger juice

水 500 ml
酒粕 100 g
砂糖 大さじ3
塩 一つまみ

Right: Amazake made from koji and leftover rice
Left: Amazake made from sake lees
右: 麹と残りごはんで作った甘酒
左: 酒粕で作った甘酒
I'm not a big fan of amazake made from sake lees, but luckily, my son said he could drink it.

January 22, 2016

Amazake Recipe, Updated/甘酒レシピ更新

Just wanted to inform that I have updated my amazake recipe (Japanese only) on COOKPAD, which I previously described here in my blog.

I have slightly modified the amounts of water and leftover rice:
1,400 ml water (not 1,200 ml)
450 g leftover rice (not 400 ml)
400 g koji (unchanged)

The biggest difference is to put the microwaved leftover rice and half the boiling water to the thermos flask in an attempt to make the rice porridge-like.
The contents of the thermos flask will be at around 80 degrees C.
Let the remaining water to cool to around 55 degrees, and add it to the flask.
Make sure that the contents of the flask are at 67-65 degrees, and add room-temperature koji.
Mix well and check the temperature. It should be around 60 degrees.
Amazake will be made in 8-12 hours.  

I decided to heat the amazake this time to deactivate the enzymes.
Just heat the amazake to around 80 degrees, and simmer at that temperature for a few minutes.

January 18, 2016

Nagaoka on Jan. 17/長岡、1/17

On Day 2 (Jan. 17) of the Center Test, I took the 7:30 train bound for Nagaoka to see my son a little after 8:30. I waited for him to get ready to leave the hotel in the hotel lounge, where I had a cup of complimentary instant coffee.
Impressive pictures on the walls.

I saw him off at the bus stop at around 9:20, and then I headed for the Nagaoka War Damage Exhibit Hall.
You can find some info about the Hall on this page of tripadvisor.
Then, I went to the East exit of Nagaoka Sation, and strolled aimlessly toward a coffee house.

Destination: Coffee shop called Komeda Kissaten.
Official website of this coffee shop chain.
目的地: コメダ珈琲店

I decided not to visit this place this time, and headed back to Nagaoka Station. I absolutely wanted to have this soft-serve ice cream at the YASUDA YOGURT SHOP in the station building.
280 yen. Best soft-serve ice cream I've ever had.

I bought four cups of "Yogurt Rare Cheese" for souvenir for my family. I got one complimentary fig-flavored Yasuda Yogurt because the total amount of purchase exceeds 1,000 yen.
Note that "rare" in Japanese means unbaked.

My son came home at 8 o'clock that night. He had been given just a lot of sweets for praying for passing entrance exams by relatives, teachers, and others. Shown below are just some examples of such sweets.

長岡、川西屋本店の酒饅頭/Saka Manju at Kawanishi Ya Honten, Nagaoka

According to this page of the website of Kawanishi Ya Honten, these saka manju (shio azuki or salted azuki) take three hours to hand-make, one by one, in the traditionally way, by fermenting koji.

This particular brand of saka manju, which is special in that the azuki filling is not sweetened, was a favorite of Yamamoto Isoroku, who was native to this city.

According to this page of the website of Kawanishi Ya Honten, Yamamoto had the saka manju in the following special way:

Pour water in a donburi (large rice bowl) until it's 70% full, float blocks of snow (ice?) to cool the water, float a manju there. Leave it for a while, and the manju, which soaked up the cold water, becomes swollen and large to fill the donburi. Sprinkle sugar, and eat it by scooping with a large spoon.


In this YouTube video, you can see how Yamamoto had the manju. View the video at 0:50 and 1:36. This video is part of the movie produced in 2011.

Edited to add:
Yamamoto Isoroku called the saka manju eaten in this way "mizu manju" (mizu = water). Usually, mizu manju means manju made from kuzu ko (arrowroot powder) and an (bean jam).

Despite the fact described above, I had the manju in a usual way.

January 16, 2016

Nagaoka on Jan. 16/長岡、1/16

Today, I took the first train to Nagaoka on an important mission: taking with me the o-bento my wife made for my son, who went to Nagaoka last night to stay at the hotel in the station building for two nights to take the Center Test.

View from Nagaoka Station
After I handed him the o-bento and saw him off at the bus stop at around 8 o'clock, I headed for the coffee house on Suzuran Street.

COFFEE HOME Charlent/Charlin (sp?)

This particular coffee house started business in 1957, and with its 21 tables and 90 seats, it's the biggest coffee house in Nagaoka. The nostalgic "Showa Retro" interior will remind any Japanese, particularly those in their 50s or over, like me, of the good old days in the Showa period.

I'm not a good photographer, so here are links to sites that contains some nice photos of the coffee house:
Link 1
Link 2
Here is a link to a YouTube video.

I ordered a breakfast special (called "morning service" in Japanese), although I had already breakfast at home at around 6:00. The thick slice of toast was so tempting!
530 yen.

Mouth-watering, right?
(Copied from one of the sites linked to above.)
According to this board, the coffee shop is called CHARIN in English (but I really don't think it's the correct spelling for シャルラン in Japanese).
According to this sign, the English name is CHARLIN.
Photo copied from here

I dropped by the city hall plaza, Aore Nagaoka.

I also went to Kawanishi Ya Honten, which I previously talked about here in my blog, to get some "saka manju".

I'll talk about the saka manju in a separate post.