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COOKING WITH KUZU  

Kuzu is unsurpassed as a thickening agent. It produces sparkling, translucent sauces; adds a shiny gloss to soups; and provides a smooth texture for sauces and gravies with no starchy or interfering taste. Try using kuzu as a thickener in sauces and gravies, and for added body in soups and noodle broths. Vegetables and fish that have been dusted with kuzu powder and then deep-fried have a light, crisp coating. Since kuzu helps balance the acidity of sweets, it is ideal in desserts such as kantens and puddings, and it is the perfect ingredient in icings, shortcake toppings, and pie fillings.

Store kuzu in a sealed jar. When you buy kuzu, the powder will be in small chunks. Crush the chunks with the back of a spoon before measuring. Use approximately 1and1/2 tablespoons of kuzu per cup of liquid for sauces and gravies and 2 tablespoons per cup for jelling liquids. For most preparations, completely dissolve the measured amount of kuzu in a little cold water, then add it to the other ingredients near the end of cooking time. Gently bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly while the kuzu thickens and becomes translucent.

Kuzu should not be confused with arrowroot, potato starch, and corn starch. Corn starch, in particular, is not recommended because it is highly processed and treated with chemical bleaches and toxic extracting agents. Potato starch is also mass-produced, and chemicals are used to accelerate the extraction process. While arrowroot is made by a simple, natural process, kuzu is far superior in jelling strength, taste, texture, and healing qualities.

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