|The moisture in the nukadoko glistens off the paste.|
Photo of nuka paste in brown pot.
Upon seeing the pH test results, Elizabeth encouraged me to go ahead and drain some of the liquid. This was a big moment, and I was super excited. She talked me through the process, and I took copious notes, and she also sent a series of photos of the draining process so I could have some visual support of this process, too.
|The sake cup I used to drain liquid from my nuka paste.|
Photo of blue, black, and white cup held between thumb and forfinger.
I patted down the nuka paste so that it was flat in the nukadoko. I then inserted a small sake cup, pressing firmly as it went straight down to the bottom. I chose a wide, low cup that I thought would accommodate the depth of my paste at the time (about three inches or so).
|Sake cup immersed in nuka paste with sides sloped toward it.|
Photo of black, blue, and white cup in nuka paste.
Per Elizabeth's advice, I then "banked" the sides around the cup, meaning I gently shaped them to slope down toward the cup. This would encourage excess liquid to drain into the sake cup rather than pooling about on the surface. Ideally, the cup should be about three inches below the surface, but in my case, the sloping surface ended at the lip of the cup. I had been cautious about adding fresh nuka powder, so the depth was a bit lower than might be ideal. I also wonder if this might account for the sourness, too, as there wasn't enough to keep the pot happy and busy. Something to ponder for later.
|Elizabeth's nukadoko being drained. |
Notice how deep the cup is in the paste and how the sides of the nuka are sloped toward it.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Andoh
Photograph of white cup below surface of nuka paste.
Then, it was a question of waiting. Liquid, Elizabeth advised, could accumulate overnight, but she suggested giving it a full 24 hours. She said that she typically gets 150 - 200cc when she drains her pot, but in my case, we could have to see.
|A not very attractive photo of the drained liquid in a measuring cup.|
Brown liquid in bottom of clear glass measuring cup with red painted measurements.
It was 10am on a cool, cloudy morning when I inserted the sake cup. When I returned the next morning around 8:30am, about an ounce (29cc) of dark brown fluid filled the cup. I gave it a good turn and flop and noticed the paste felt much drier, but I decided it was still a bit too wet. I resloped the sides and inserted the cup once more. The next morning, I had another ouce (29cc). The paste was drier still, but I inserted it once more to get any last excess fluid. There wasn't much in the sake cup the next morning, so I went ahead and gave it the usual flop and turn before inserting a salt-rubbed cucumber for a test run. To my delight, it came out pleasantly sour.
In hindsight, it would have been sensible to do another pH test before doing the cucumber to get an idea of what might have changed. Something to remember for the future.