Pairings | Japanese food
What type of food is the best match for sake and why? Shirley Booth, founder of the British Sake Association comes up with a few surprises and some useful pointers on serving temperatures.
The sound of the temple bell reverberates in the distance. It’s midnight in Japan, and the Shinto shrine is full of people celebrating the new year. Some are drinking amazake – a cloudy unfiltered (and non-alcoholic) type of sake drunk warm; others proffer cups to be filled with cold clear sake, served from gold kettles by ceremonially-clad priests. And the gods get their share – offerings of large straw-covered sake barrels called komokaburi are placed in front of the shrine. Only sake is good enough to keep the gods happy – in the hope they'll bestow health and happiness in the coming year.
I was reminded the other night of how the average wine newbie must feel confronted with a wine list in French. The names of the wines and the grape varieties mean nothing. You have no idea what they taste like and what to order. Panic sets in.
Winemakers like to tell you that their wines go with everything but in the case of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s best known white wine, it’s true.
A newbie's guide to sake from wine writer Natasha Hughes.
I was always taught the best sakes were served chilled but the other evening at London's Sake no Hana I got to taste a super-premium daiginjo sake at room temperature with a dish of grilled Chilean seabass and it matched perfectly.
Perfectly prepared Japanese food is not what you expect to find in the gastronomic desert of the Languedoc but this superb dish of rare tuna was a brilliant match for the richly textured white wine I drank at Côté Mas the other day.
The best meal on my whirlwind tour of the Centre Loire* last week - and there was stiff competition - was a Japanese meal prepared by sommelier Juli Nakata-Roumet, the Japanese wife of the local promotional body’s director of communication Benoit Roumet
You might think sushi would be tricky to match with wine but surprisingly that’s not the case. And there are other drinks that work too . . .
I’d have been hard pushed to explain exactly what sukiyaki was before I had it this week at Jason Atherton’s swish new restaurant Sosharu in Clerkenwell.
A terrific pairing which was part of a fascinating tasting I went to last week of sakes from the Tohoku region of Japan, the area most affected by last year's earthquake and tsumani. It was organised jointly by the British Sake Association and events company Tengu Sake (@tengusake on Twitter) and took place at Tombo, a Japanese cafe in South Kensington which laid on some particularly delicious food.
We get so used to thinking of red wine as the only pairing for beef that it’s good to be reminded there are other options. Especially when it comes to Japan’s fabled Wagyu beef which is all about subtle tastes and textures.
I don’t that often order sake in a restaurant but when I do I wonder why I don’t drink it more often.
I’m beginning to get Christmassed-out already so this week’s pairing is not the very old madeira and Comté I had last night, amazing though that was, but a steaming, spicy bowl of ramen and an Asahi Super Creamy Head beer I enjoyed at Bone Daddies Ramen earlier in the week.