The Small Town in Kanagawa
As I neared the last of my savings, I though to myself that I should play life loose. Rather than take that money and use it for an extra month of rent, I decided to use the money to go to the greatest place on Earth. Traveling to Japan is like living inside a poem. The beauty and elegance of nature surrounded by some of the hardest working humans on the planet. A culture designed to produce to most skilled individuals on the planet. I haven’t been to every place on this planet, but I am arrogant enough to know that none of these places will invoke the romantic self more than that of Japan. Also none would give me the idea to make Daibutsu kushikatsu beer batter
Tokyo is great. Spend as much time as you can there and then realize that it will never be enough to truly understand such a great city. But, if you have half of a day, take a day trip to Kamakura. This Kanagawa prefecture town has that nostalgic Japanese charm, plenty of beaches, and is known for its shirsu (white bait fish) dishes. Also here is a small craft brewery called Kamakura Beer Brew Co. This is a small brewery far from the city center. But don’t worry. Japanese towns are all about providing you with their local specialty. So go grab some shirasu don and expect to find Kamakura brewing instead of the typical Sapporo and Kirin options.
Pale Ale By the Beach
This Daibutsu is a pale ale, but comes off more of a pale lager. It is named after Daibutsu, the giant Buddha statue that the town is known for. It is light and refreshing and there is no sign of hops. However, you are not burdened with the typical lager taste on the back end. Don’t expect anything mind blowing here. In fact, I welcome this flavor profile. The hops and barley don’t get in the way and the flavor is not in abundance. However, it will remind you that you are drinking a beer, but won’t remind you of any particular flavors once the beer is finished. Why this flavor profile works so well is that is embodies exactly the feeling of what Kamakura is. A memorable place that lives very much in the moment. This is Kamakura Daibutsu beer.
Kushikatsu is Life
I fell in love with Osaka due to its food. In fact, they have a word for it. Kuidore means to ruin oneself with extravagance in food. It comes from at the proverb, “Dress into ruin in Kyoto, eat into ruin in Osaka.“ And that I did. Jumping from one establishment to the other, I indulged in everything takoyaki and okonomiyaki. But the one dish that stands out in Osaka is the Kushikatsu.
Kushikatsu (串カツ) or kushiage (串揚げ) is simply deep fried vegetables and meats on skewers. And who doesn’t like deep fried foods. But this batter is light. Very light. Just the minimal amount of liquid and egg is added to the batter before the breadcrumbs. Just enough to allow for the breadcrumbs to stick to skewer, but not an over abundance of breading. Just enough, which seems to be a running theme in all things Japan. Never spoil oneself with too much of a good thing…and that is a good thing. Although you can find this Tokyo as well (Ueno anyone), it just doesn’t taste the same as that first Osaka experience. I kushikatsu a few times during my visit in Japan, knowing that I was going to make this recipe when I get home.
Daibutsu Kushikatsu Beer Batter
To make kushikatsu batter, it requires very minimal ingredients: egg, water, milk, and breadcrumbs. Adding beer directly to the batter is a no go, so the only other option is so make the breadcrumbs from scratch using a beer bread. I decided to forgo doing generic beer bread recipes anymore, mainly for the lack of content. You know how a beer bread works: beer, flour, baking powder, salt, mix, bake. Seems pointless to make it a solo recipe when it is apart of a bigger meal. However, with kushikatsu comes the sauce, and I do plan to make that the next recipe instead of adding it here.
After creating the beer bread with the Daibutsu beer, let the bread cool down. Then dice up the bread and put it back in the over again. We are going to make croutons essentially and then grind them up into small crumbs.
That is the basics of kushikatsu. From here you can fry anything you would like. However, if you are looking for authenticity, stick to frying the following: Daikon, burdock, lotus root, chikuwa, camembert cheese, takoyaki (yes the whole thing deep fried), quail eggs, kabocha squash (Japanese Pumpkin), squid, octopus, pork, chicken Gizzards.
I highly recommend the lotus root. It provides just the right amount of crunch as the lotus root is very crispy even when boiled down for a few. It reminds me of a thick fried potato chip.
Kushikatsu holds a special place in my heart and will always remind me of Osaka and all of the kuidore inducing food.
- Preheat the oven to 350º F to prepare the beer bread. Add flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Pour dashi into a cup. Add the beer to the cup and mix until dashi soup stock is dissolved completely. Pour beer into the dry ingredients and mix. Place small portions of the dough into 6 cupcake liners. Add the liners to a cupcake sheet and bake for 20 - 30 minutes. If you want you can brush some butter on top of the bread and place back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes if you like that golden crisp top. Let bread cool completely.
- Dice bread onto a baking sheet and place back into the oven for another 15 minutes. This is going to bake our bread and make croutons. Once baked, place into a blender or use a rolling pin to smash the bread into breadcrumbs. You now have breadcrumbs for your kushikatsu.
- Add the egg, water and milk and whisk together to form your batter. Heat up some oil and prepare to fry your veggies and meats. Create an assembly line. Dip in order, batter, bread crumbs, then hot oil. These don't need to fry for more than 2 minutes. Remove from oil and place onto a drying rack. Be sure to dip into some kushikatsu sauce and enjoy.