You need to allow for a day or two to marinate but other than that, this is very simple to make Pork Marinated in Sake Lees (Pork Kasuzuke). Sake lees is highly nutritious and makes a flavoursome marinade.
I posted a couple of marinated fish dishes, both of which are quick to make, although you need to marinate the fish at least the day before. In case you haven’t seen them yet, here are the links: Saikyo Yaki Fish, Japanese Salmon Mirin-zuke. Today’s recipe is no exception, even if sliced pork is used instead of fish.
Pork kasuzuke is made in a very similar way to Saikyo Yaki Fish, which is marinated in Saikyo miso with some seasonings. Kasuzuke uses a marinade made of ‘sake kasu’ (酒粕, sake lees) and seasonings but sometimes the marinade contains a small amount of miso.
About Sake Kasu (Sake Lees)
Sake kasu is the lees of sake that is left over in the process of sake making. Although it is a by-product of sake, it has a high level of nutrition. For example, 100g (3.5oz) of sake kasu contains about 15g (0.5oz) of protein, which is close to pork loin. It also contains different kinds of vitamin B as well as a good amount of fibre.
Even if it is a leftover from sake production, sake kasu retains about 8% of alcohol and you can certainly taste alcohol in the food marinated in sake kasu.
Unlike Australia, Japan has zero tolerance laws for drink driving. So, sensible people do not eat dishes containing sake kasu if they are driving home. When my sister told me about it, I thought it was a joke, but apparently some people have been caught when they did not drink alcohol at all. Alas, they enjoyed a meal of kasuzuke too much.
There are various dishes using sake kasu but usage is categorised into three types – (1) grill and eat as is, (2) as drinks or soups, (3) as marinades. Even marinades using sake kasu have many variations and the foods to be marinated in it are endless. I must post different dishes using sake kasu in coming months!
In Japan, sake kasu is sold as a sheet that has a similar texture to play dough, as a soft paste, or as wet crumbs. But here in Australia, I can only get it in sheets and they are sold frozen in a pack of 200g (7.1oz) at Japanese grocery stores. Here are my sake kasu pack and the play dough like sheet (this is the leftover piece from today’s recipe).
Marinade using sake kasu is called kasu doko (粕床) which translates as ‘sake lees bed’. Apart from using sake kasu, there are so many different combinations of ingredients added to make kasu doko.
Some recipes add just sake, some just mirin. Some add miso, sugar and salt like my recipe. The amount of miso added to sake doko also varies a lot. You may want to experiment with different proportions of seasonings and find your favourite flavour.
My kasu doko is made with a small amount of miso (10% of sake kasu), mirin, sugar and some cooled boiled water to make it softer.
Because the marinade contains sake, pork kasuzuke can be kept for up to a week in the fridge, or a couple of months in the freezer. You can marinate not only pork but chicken, fish fillets and vegetables.
Marinating time depends on the type of ingredients and thickness of each piece. Thinly sliced meat can be ready over night but I find that a couple of days of marinating time gives better flavour to the meat. Thick slices of meat should be marinated for 5-7 days. Fish can be marinated over night.
I sometimes use up a pack of sake lees and marinate a couple of different ingredients and freeze them after leaving them in the fridge for a day.
You need to allow for 1-2 days to marinate but other than that, it is very simple to make Pork Kasuzuke (Marinated Pork in Sake Lees). Sake lees is highly nutritious and makes a flavoursome marinade.
Prep time does not include time to marinate (overnight to 48 hours). Cook time assumes cooking meat in two batches.
- 450g (1lb) pork belly , thinly sliced to 7mm (¼”) thick (note 1)
- ½ tbsp oil
- 100g (3.5oz) sake kasu (note 2)
- 10g (0.4oz) brown miso (note 3)
- ½ tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp sugar (note 3)
- 1 tsp salt (note 3)
- ½-1 tbsp cold boiled water (note 4)
Add the Kasuzuke Marinade ingredients to a blender (note 4) or a food processor and whiz until it becomes a smooth paste. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to grind the sake kasu and mix well. The consistency of the marinade is like hummus.
Using a soft spatula, thinly spread the marinade at the bottom of a container that has enough volume to contain the entire pork slices (note 5).
Lay slices of pork on the marinade in the container without overlapping. Then spread the marinade over the pork slices. Ensure the sides of pork slices are also coated with the marinade.
Repeat until all the slices are piled and covered with the marinade.
Place a piece of cling wrap to cover the surface of the marinated pork slices. Place a lid and store in the fridge overnight to 48 hours (preferred).
Scrape off the marinade as much as you can (note 6) and get ready for cooking.
Heat oil in a griddle or a fry pan over medium heat. You will need to cook pork in batches unless you are using a very large griddle or fry pan.
Place the pork slices on the griddle/fry pan without overlapping and cook for 1-1.5 minutes until the edges of the pork slices start getting cooked (becomes whitish).
Turn them over and cook further 1 minute or so. Transfer to a cutting board. Repeat Step 3 and 4 when cooking in batches.
Cut each slice into bite size pieces and serve with fresh salad.
1. I think that pork belly is well suited to this marinade but you can use pork loin if you like. I find that pork loin comes out a bit dry but it is up to your preference. If you are using pork loin, you may want to increase the oil to 1 tbsp when cooking.
My pork belly slices were about 20cm (8”) long. Since I used a small container to marinate, I cut them half in the middle to make short slices. If you are using larger container, you can marinate the long slices without cutting them. It does not matter how long they are because you will cut them into bite sizes in the end.
2. Sake kasu is the lees of sake that is left over in the process of sake making. Although it is a by-product of sake, it has a high level of nutrition and great flavour. You can buy sake kasu at Japanese grocery stores. It comes in a pack, usually sold frozen.
3. You can use either common brown miso (I used this), shiro miso or Saikyo miso. Depending on the type of miso used, the colour of the marinade will be marginally different (dark to light in the previous miso order).
Also, depending on the type of miso, you will need to adjust the amount of sweetness and saltiness because they differ greatly depending on the type of miso. If you are using Saikyo miso, omit sugar and double the amount of salt. If using shromiso, increase salt by 50%.
4. Amount of water required depends on the type of miso. If miso is soft, you will need less water. I would suggest that you start with 1/2 tablespoon of water and then add more if the consistency is not right.
5. I used a 15 x 10 x 5cm (6 x 4 x 2") air-tight glass container. I could fit in only a few slices in each layer, so I had several layers. But you can use larger containers and reduce the layers. Alternatively, you could marinate the pork slices in a zip lock plastic bag as long as each slice is coated with the marinade.
6. When cooking, marinade burns quickly if left on the meat too much of it. This is how I remove the marinade: Scrape off the marinade on the surface of the pork using a soft spatula. Then transfer the slice to a baking sheet, scraped side down. Use spatula to remove the marinade on the other side of the pork slice. You can put the scraped marinade back in the marinating container.
Alternative method I sometimes use: Hold a pork piece at the end and run through your other hand to remove the marinade. It's a bit messy but I put on surgical gloves to do that!
7. Pork kasuzuke can be kept in the fridge for a week and 2 months in the freezer.