The charm of sake is that it shows various faces according to what delicacies it’s combined with, its temperature, and the differences in the vessel in which it’s served. The harmonizing elegance it displays while bringing out the strengths of its partner foods is its distinctive characteristic.
While enjoying the “gentle tipsiness” unique to sake, how about we search for your preferred flavor?
“Marriage, Drinks with the Family” is a section where Yoko Suganami, a sake specialist who has visited over 10 thousand restaurants both in Japan and abroad, introduces various local Seto Inland Sea region sakes, and what are in her view the best foods to go with them.
I selected an Ehime sake that you should definitely try – The Ishizuchi unfiltered fune-pressed junmai sake by Ishizuka Shuzo of Ehime prefecture.
In addition to the 4 main elements included in sake, 1) fragrance rate 2) umami rate 3) acidity rate 4) sweetness rate, the graph expresses the “rate of locality” (Setouchi rate) which I added to express how locally the rice and yeast utilized is sourced.
As might be expected of Ehime sake, which is known as the “onna-zake of Iyo“, the water used is moderately soft and gives the characteristically mild flavor of “smooth sake“.
“Ishizuchi”, a sake brewed in the bosom of west Japan’s highest peak, Mt. Ishizuchi, the cool, clear waters of the mountain are used in brewing.
However, this sake has quite the character! As it’s unfiltered, the moment you taste it, your tongue prickles. The sour yoghurty flavor together with the spicy fragrance of hinoki cypress spread in the mouth.
“This one is quite strong-willed”, is the first impression it makes. However, as you continue to sip, its abundance of flavors and full character slowly become apparent.
One point sake jargon
Unfiltered: Freshly brewed sake usually goes through a filtering process. Sake that doesn’t is, of course, unfiltered.
Fune-pressing: A method of pressing sake-fermenting mash without using a machine. The mash is put into a wooden container called a ‘fune’ and then pressed. The liquid extracted when pressing with this low amount of pressure is then put into earthenware pots.
Marriage with food
As today’s sake is full-bodied, firm and rich-flavored, I paired it with a Chinese-style salad, Ehime-grown young yellowtail and tofu. The tofu and daikon are covered with a layer of fatty Ehime-grown young yellowtail, and then wrapped in a special sauce made of soy sauce, broad bean chilli sauce and sesame oil. The dish is finally garnished with some finely cut leek as an accent.
I imagine that some of you may be surprised: “Chinese cuisine with Japanese sake?”
Unique and unfiltered sakes filled with character have a tendency to be hidden behind the character of food. By garnishing the impact of the dish with broad bean chili paste and sesame oil, a balance can be reached between the flavors. It’s not just Chinese cuisine as is, an important point is arranging it to the tone of the sake using fresh Japanese-style ingredients such as sashimi, tofu and daikon.
When you meet a sake that seems hard to pair up, how about taking it as a chance to enjoy novel food arrangements?
To enjoy this sake‘s puff of wood scent, we recommend serving it at normal temperature (around 13 degrees)!
Choosing the drinking vessel
To be able to focus on enjoying the full-body and flavor of the sake, I chose large cylinder-shaped sake cups. POTTER Kanae, a modern artist from Hiroshima, made these unique owl cups.
So that the sake doesn’t come rushing out, the part from where you drink is curved from the inside. After enjoying the first sensations with your tongue, the ‘slow-flow-speed’ of these cups is perfect for this sake.
“Well then, let’s try it!!”
It might seem like a powerful pairing, but creating an eloquent performance between exquisite flavors, neither side tries to intrude upon the other, each respects the other by moving forward and drawing back in turn.
The sake alone gives a smooth finish, but by pairing it with this dish, the smoothness is brought to a crisp finish by the acidity. The cool side of Ishizuchi is its nonchalant gentleness that, even after finishing, leaves a soft aftertaste on the palate.
How about a trip to the Seto Inland Sea area to enjoy sake?
By searching for your preferred sake and delicious snacks, and choosing a wonderful vessel to drink it from, you will certainly find new sake flavors while increasing your appreciation of this wonderful beverage.
Ishizuchi Shuzo Co.,Ltd.
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers: Makoto Esaki & Yoko Suganami
Yoko Suganami Rainbow Sake, Inc. After an extended stay in Hawaii, in 2011, I returned to my hometown of Kure, Hiroshima. Having worked at advertising companies in both Japan and Hawaii, I founded Rainbow Sake - a PR company with the goal of spreading Sake abroad. I hope that sake will ""bring the people of the world together"" and that I can be a part of that. I often travel abroad, and mostly to Hawaii and Singapore. Every time I come back home, I rediscover the beauty of my hometown and the happiness the easygoing, calm, fresh and simple sea and mountains of Setouchi bring.
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