Warm mushroom soba soup

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The weather is getting a little chilly. The time of warm soup is back. The official season of sake kasu is open, even if I didn’t wait.

Asian cuisines are very careful about seasons of dishes. You’ll say that’s everywhere that wise people try to eat season produce. True, but they have kept a concern that was important in European Medieval cuisines and has since been neglected, which is the effect of food, whether they are cooling or warming. So these are two food said to be “warming” :

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Sake kasu (sake lees). The soup made with it, kasujiru, is present all along the cold season in Kansai.

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Buckwheat, here in soba noodles. It’s also seen in sobagaki.

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I soaked a good handful of mixed dry mushrooms, then added onion, frozen and thawed tofu, garlic, soy sauce. Simmered.

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For the sides, I’ve steamed kabocha and reheated hana mame (flower beans) with soy sauce and a little sugar.

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I’ve added the soba and sake kasu in the soup, more soy sauce to make it saltier.

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And to spice it up a tonic mix : diced ginger, garlic, negi leeks, and chili pepper. Just mixed in, reheated and served.

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Kimchi in the kabocha.

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A flower on the beans. Lunch is ready.

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Fav’ season soup : SNN (sakekasu natto negi)

The season of good hot soups is back. This one has a white secret ingredient.

Do you recognize this logo ? A white crane. Hakutsuru means white crane, it’s a brand of Japanese sake. Well, that’s a big commercial brand, I’m not promoting it. It’s because of this :

It is sake kasu.
The sakekasu means roughly “by-product” of sake. Japanese sake is obtained by letting rice fermenting in some water, and later the liquid is filtered. What is left is this paste. It is the season when it arrives on the market.

It’s a sort of white paste. I’ve some darker types. The taste…well. The closest would be goat cheese, but not the least salty. It’s very strong, but not often eaten pure. Mixed in water, it’s sweeter.

Here are the nutrition data. from this page (in Japanese)

For 100 g :

Calories 227kcal
Protein 14.9g
Fiber 5.2g
Carbohydrates 23.8 g
Alcohol 8.2%
Vitamines B:
B1 0.03 mg
B2 0.26 mg 2 mg
niacin 2 mg
B6 0.94 mg
folic acid 170 µg
pantotene acid 0.48 mg

It is fermented, rich in fiber… and it is said to have the property of warming you up in Winter.

Some meals where I used sakekasu : click here

The 2 most classic usages are to make :

amazake
It’s a sweet hot drink.
The second is soup.

Basic sakekasu soup :
Eat some stock (fish dashi, kombu seaweed dashi, or simply water plus soy sauce…) and mix in a 1 tbs of sakekasu paste per cup. To mix it smoothly, you can take a small sieve, put the paste in, dip in the stock and stir with chopstick till it’s smooth. Or put the paste and a little liquid in a cup and stir, before pouring into the pot of soup.
Add any item you wish, veggies, fish, meat, croutons…

Today’s :

3 ingredients : natto fermented soy beans (it comes with a little bag of dashi + soy sauce), sakekasu and negi leeks.
Just boil water and mix. I use the natto sauce as stock.
I only add a little black pepper, freshly milled.

It’s really very tasty and warm. It’s incredible you can prepare it in 3 minutes.

Old fashion buckwheat chicken soup

To warm up the fresh nights…

It’s a very economic dish. Supermarkets and butchers sell at extremely cheap price, the bones of chicken with a little meat left on them. That won’t happen in Osaka, but your butcher may also have bones of old cocks, of ducks and other tasty poultries that make the most fragrant soups.
It’s very “long in time”, but you are only active 5 minutes in total. I never buy cubes or powder of “broth”. Even the best brands don’t even remotely taste like the real thing, but they sell well because many have not tasted home-made broth in years, or in their whole life. There exist, in refrigerated sections of certain stores, some liquid concentrated broth. It is slightly better, but extremely expensive.

Chicken broth : Place the bones of one chicken (just rinsed), 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 onion on a dish and bake under the broiler 15 minutes. Transfer in a big pot or crockpot, with kitchen scissors, break the bones wherever you can, add plenty of water. Bring to boil, take away the foam. Cover. On the slowest heat, let 1 hour. Let covered till room temperature, cool in the fridge. The next day, take away the solidified fat.
The stock can be kept in fridge a few days or frozen.

Meat : Scrap the small bits from the bones. Also take the garlic (paste it) and onion.

Buckwheat broth : Prepare of 100% buckwheat noodles (juwari soba) and eat them as you want, but keep the boiling water. Store in fridge.

In a bowl place : 1/2 bowl of buckwheat broth (it’s getting a bit gelatinous), the meat, onion, garlic, chicken broth, sea salt. Reheat in micro-wave. You get this :

Before eating, stir with your spoon, you get your silky ivory chicken nectar soup :