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Ask Beau - "What's a good recipe for sake cuisine?"

beauI get about 20 emails per month from people who are looking to take sake deep into their cooking and eating experiences. As such they are constantly on the lookout for recipes that either use sake in the production or better yet go excellently with sake. The good news is that my book – to be released in March (I think that you may preorder through B&N and Amazon) – has several outstanding dishes that are easy to prepare and even easier to consume. But alas the bad news is that I cannot release those to you yet! So to Mary D. from Spokane Washington, who wrote "please help me look like I know what I am doing with a recipe that will impress my husband's Japanese boss" I say relax because Miwa from True Sake has provided the following ditty that will make us all look good.


Braised tender pork

'Kakuni', translated as braised cubes, has sweet and savory flavors that go well with full-body Junmai sake, served either 'jo-on' (room temperature) or 'nuru-kan' (slightly warm). Served along with a side dish of green would make this dish perfect winter 'tumami' (sake snack).

Serving: 6-8

3lb pork shoulder or ribs, cut into 2-inch squares
Cooking oil
4 cups of liquid, combination of sake and/or water
1 large ginger chunk, yielding 6 1/8"-thick slices
2 leeks or 'negi' (Japanese leeks)
- Green part, washed well and several pieces saved
- White part, cut into 1"-long pieces
2 tablespoon Chinese dark soy sauce* (When using Japanese soy sauce, skip the salt)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon course salt
3 to 4 tablespoon brown sugar, not packed

6-8 cooked baby bamboo shoots, cut into quarters--available at Japanese supermarkets
6-8 Shitake mushrooms, cut into halves

1 large knife
1 cutting board
1 flying pan
1 pot with a lid, large enough to lay the meat in one to two layers
1 plate
1 ladle or large spoon
1 wooden or heat-resistance spatula


Time: 20 minutes to prepare and 1-1/2 to 2 hours to cook


      1. Sear the meat.
        Heat the pan over high heat and pore the oil just enough to coat the surface. When the oil heated brown each piece of meat but not over crowding the pan. Once browned, transfer the pieces to a plate.
      2. Deglaze the pan.
        Once the meat is removed pour out the fat. Place the pan over medium- high heat and add º to ‡ cup of liquid, either sake or water. Using the spatula, scrape browned meat juice coating the pan. Once the liquid starts to boil, turn off the heat.
      3. Add the ingredients.
        In the pot, add seared meat, deglazing liquid from the pan, ginger slices, leek green, and the rest of liquid enough to cover ‡" over the meat--if not enough liquid, add more. Bring the liquid close to boiling over high heat.
      4. Remove 'aku' (impurity).
        When the liquid starts to boil, turn down to heat to medium. Using the ladle, skim off impurity that floats on the surface. This is important.
      5. Add seasoning.
        Add soy sauce, sugar and salt to the meat. Since most of the liquid evaporates after few hours of braising, it tasting too light at this stage is fine. The taste can be adjusted at the very end. (*Chinese dark soy sauce gives nice color and less salty. When using Japanese soy sauce, skip the salt, also to give more dark color to the dish, sugar can be caramelized then added.)
      6. Slow cook
        Turn the heat to low and partially cover the pot with a lid, being to cook. Occasionally turn the meat gently and skim any impurity that floats. About 45 minutes into cooking, remove the leek green and the ginger but add the bamboo shoots.
      7. After an hour or so of cooking, check the tenderness of the meat. If fibers of the meat separate easily with a touch of chopstick, it is almost done. At this point, add pieces of leek white and cook them until tender for about 10-15 minutes.
      8. Finishing
        After 1-1/2 to 2 hours of cooking, about 1/4" liquid remains in the pan. Try the sauce with a little of meat and adjust the tastes if needed.
      9. Serving
        Plate the meat and pour the sauce over. If needed reduce the sauce or add a little bit of cornstarch to thicken.

Copyright © 2005 Miwa Wang

Thank you Miwa for this dish, which is superb! And for readers who would like to share their own recipes please send them to me specifically at askbeau2 @ and I may consider starting a new section within this Newsletter.

Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All correspondence should use info @

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