A master class by Kevin Farley of The Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, California on using sake kasu, or the microbe rich remains after a sake is pressed, to make pickles.
Although there is a tradition of using something like this to ferment or preserve vegetables, fish, meat or even to make condiments throughout Asia, over at least the last 500 years the Japanese have developed an extensive array of pickles (tseukemono) and food preparation techniques that are acclaimed throughout the world.
In a sense, the Japanese have codified the ways in which they make pickles, each type it’s own class. Of course, a specific locality might have a way they make their pickles. What is available after the harvest, or sometimes what can be foraged, often dictates what gets pickled.
But the technique pretty much remains constant. As with all fermentations getting to the appropriate water content of what is being pickled or , usually by using salt or some drying technique, is the paramount concern.
As Kevin explains in this video, if water from a vegetable crashes out into the pickling medium it can change the entire fermentation process. One of the more brilliant techniques used by The Cultured Pickle Shop is to create a type of mirin, a traditional Japanese cooking seasoning, from the kasuzuke brine.
How that is then aged or immediately utilized is discussed, as well as the characteristics of aged kasu itself. This very little known technique of aging sake kasu to be used in a year or two to make pickles based on the taste of the kasu is also explained.
This video was originally created to celebrate the release of Sandor Katz’ Fermentation Journeys, one of Sandor’s many amazing books. In fact, you can pick up a copy when you visit The Cultured Pickle Shop.