My Sake Lees Soup with Salmon (Salmon Kasujiru) is a kind of miso soup mixed with sake lees. The soup contains plenty of vegetables and salmon fillet. Sake Lees Soup is usually eaten in winter as it warms you up from the core of your body.
Although the origin of Sake Lees Soup is uncertain, it is known to be a local specialty of the Kansai region that includes Kyoto, Osaka, Hyōgo, and Nara prefectures. The first solid sake lees was produced in Nara prefecture in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Considering that Kyoto and Hyōgo are famous for sake production, it is natural to assume that Sake Lees Soup originated in the Kansai region.
Sake lees is called ‘sake kasu’ (酒粕) in Japanese. I introduced sake kasu in my post Pork Marinated in Sake Lees where I briefed about what it is. Because this soup is made with sake kasu, it is named ‘kasujiru’ (粕汁), taking the last Kanji character of sake kasu with the word for soup ‘shiru’ (汁). The sound changed from ‘shiru‘ to ‘jiru‘ for easier pronunciation.
Sake kasu contains 8% alcohol, so today’s soup is not suitable for children. Although most of the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process, you can certainly taste the alcohol.
Sake Lees Soup (Kasujiru) Variations
Each region/household in Japan has different way of making Kasujiru. However, the most commonly used ingredients for Kasujiru are daikon, burdock, carrot, konnyaku, aburaage and either salmon fillet or kingfish fillet.
It seems that salmon is used in the northern region of Japan and kingfish is used in the western region of Japan. This is probably driven by the quantity of salmon and kingfish caught in the region, i.e. Hokkaido and Tōhoku region rank in the top 3 of salmon production, while a couple of prefectures in the western region are famous for kingfish.
I am from Tokyo and the flavours and methods of making of my dishes are based on the northern region of Japan in most cases. So, I make Kasujiru with salmon in it, which is called ‘sake no kasujiru’ (鮭の粕汁).
‘Sake’ (鮭) is salmon, which is the same spelling as drinking sake (酒). But salmon ‘sake‘ is pronounced with an accent on ‘sa’, while the little accent on ‘ke’ makes it drinking sake. It is pretty confusing because ‘sake‘ in the word ‘sake kasu‘ is drinking sake, but ‘sake‘ in ‘sake no kasujiru‘ is salmon.
If you are making Kasujiru using kingfish, i.e. kingfish Kasujiru, it is called ‘buri no kasujiru’ (鰤の粕汁). Incidentally, some Kasujiru recipes use sliced pork instead of fish. You can add different vegetables too.
There are variations to the soup as well. I added miso to give some flavour to the soup, but you can add light soy sauce and salt in place of miso. Some Kasujiru recipes do not use miso and soy at all and simply dilute sake lees in dashi stock.
What’s in My Sake Lees Soup with Salmon (Salmon Kasujiru)
- Salted Salmon, cut into bite size pieces
- Daikon, sliced into thin semi-circle or quarter circle pieces
- Carrot, cut into thin rectangle pieces
- Burdock, cut into matchsticks, or small sasagaki pieces
- Konnyaku, cut into thin rectangle pieces
- Aburaage, cut into thin strips
- Green onion, cut into 1cm/⅝” long pieces
Sake Lees Soup
- Dashi stock
- Sake kasu (sake lees)
Although the ingredients I picked for Sake Lees Soup are a typical combination of ingredients, it doesn’t stop you from using other vegetables. The ingredients that are suitable for miso soup are good in general. I avoided potatoes as sake kasu contains a good amount of carbohydrates.
The salmon used in Kasujiru needs to have a slightly salty flavour. I always have Japanese Salmon (Salted Salmon) in the freezer, so I used it for today’s dish. If you don’t have salted salmon, you can use fresh salmon fillet by heavily salting it for 2 hours or lightly salting it overnight.
It is best to keep the skin on so that the salmon pieces do not easily break while cooking. But if you prefer, you can have it without skin on.
As mentioned in the previous section, you can use kingfish fillet instead of salmon if you want. If you are a vegetarian, use vegetarian dashi stock and replace the fish fillet with tofu or other ingredients. You can still enjoy great flavour of Kasujiru.
How to Make Sake Lees Soup with Salmon (Salmon Kasujiru)
If you are using salmon with the skin on, you need to blanch the salmon pieces first. This will remove the fishy smell. See the video.
- Place salmon pieces in a sieve and pour boiling water over them. This removes the fishy smell.
- Put some dashi stock and sake lees in a blender and whiz until the sake lees become a smooth paste. Add miso and mix well.
- Cook daikon, carrot, burdock, and konnyaku with the remaining dashi stock in a pot until the vegetables are nearly cooked through.
- Add aburaage and salmon to the pot and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the sake lees mixture to the pot and mix gently.
- Scatter the green onions and turn the heat off.
Although there are many ingredients involved in this dish, the process of making Kasujiru is quite simple.
I used a blender to make sake kasu paste, then mixed in the miso using a spatula because my sake kasu paste was not watery enough to use the blender with the miso added to it. You can also use a mortar & pestle or a bowl with a whisk, although it will take a bit longer to make a paste.
It was early September, the beginning of spring in Australia when I tested this Salmon Kasujiru recipe. But the weather was still like winter with continuous rain. I enjoyed Kasujiru on a cold day. It really warmed me up!
Watch How To Make It
My Sake Lees Soup with Salmon (Salmon Kasujiru) is a kind of miso soup mixed with sake lees. The soup contains plenty of vegetables and salmon fillet. Sake Lees Soup (Kasujiru)is usually eaten in winter as it warms you up from the core of your body on a cold day. Watch the video.
If you are a vegetarian, use vegetarian dashi stock and replace fish fillets with tofu or other ingredients.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Salmon: Cut the salmon into bite-size pieces, then pour boiling water over them in a sieve. This removes the fishy smell.
Daikon: Halve or quarter the daikon vertically depending on the diameter of the daikon root. Then slice them into about 5mm/3⁄16" thick semi-circle or quarter-circle pieces.
Carrot: Cut into rectangle slices of approximately 4cm x 1cm x 3mm/1½" x ⅜" x ⅛".
Burdock: If using fresh burdock root, cut it into thin matchsticks of about 4cm/1½" long. As soon as you cut them, put them in water to prevent discolouration. Frozen burdock is already cut into matchsticks.
Konnyaku: Cut it into rectangle slices of approximately 4cm x 1cm x 3mm/1½" x ⅜" x ⅛" (note 4).
Aburaage: Halve it lengthwise, then slice into 5mm/3⁄16" wide strips.
Green onion: Cut it into 1cm/⅜" long pieces.
Put about 150ml/5.1floz of dashi stock and sake kasu in a blender and whiz until the sake kasu becomes a smooth paste (note 5).
Add miso and whiz to blend them well.
Put remaining dashi stock, daikon, carrot, burdock, and konnyaku pieces in a pot and bring it to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and cook with a lid on for about 5 minutes until the root vegetables are almost cooked through.
Add salmon and aburaage to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Ensure that salmon is cooked through.
Add the Sake Kasu Mixture to the pot, gently mixing into the broth.
When it starts boiling again, scatter the green onions and turn the heat off.
1. If you don’t have salted salmon, you can use a fresh salmon fillet and salt it before using. If you have time, sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt all over the fillet and leave it overnight in the fridge. When in a hurry, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt all over the salmon and leave for 2 hours. Rinse the salt off and pat dry with a paper towel.
It is best to keep the skin on the salmon so that the salmon pieces don’t break easily. But if you prefer, you can remove the skin.
If you can get fresh burdock root, that’s better. Cut it into thin matchsticks and leave them in water to prevent discolouration.
3. You can use any kind of miso. I used brown miso. Depending on the colour of your miso, the soup will be slightly whiter or browner than mine.
4. A half konnyaku block is about 8cm x 7cm x 2cm/3⅛" x 2¾" x ¾". So, I sliced the block horizontally, making 2 x 1cm thick blocks. Then halve them crosswise making 4 pieces of 4cm x 7cm x 1cm/1½" x 2¾" x ⅜" pieces before slicing each piece into 3mm/⅛" thick rectangle strips.
5. You can use a mortar & pestle or a bowl & a whisk instead of a blender but it will take longer to make a smooth paste.
6. You can keep Kasujiru for a few days in the fridge.
7. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 331g calories: 186kcal fat: 8.7g (13%) saturated fat: 1.8g (9%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 2.8g monounsaturated fat: 2.9g cholesterol: 13mg (4%) sodium: 719mg (30%) potassium: 515mg (15%) carbohydrates: 9.5g (6%) dietary fibre: 3g (12%) sugar: 2.4g protein: 12g vitamin a: 45% vitamin c: 15% calcium: 5.8% iron: 5.7%