Medieval Sake

When the age of the aristocracy ended and samurais came to the forefront, major changes took place in the world of sake production. Homemade cloudy sake common up to that point gradually became obsolete and sake breweries emerged.
Also, copper coins were imported from trades with China during this time, when the traditional barter-based economy was replaced with a monetized economy. Therefore, commercial sake production increased according to documents, while many sake breweries referred to as “Dosou” lined the streets of Kyoto and doubled as a financial institution.
During the Period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 A.D.) leading into the Kamakura period (1185-1333), both the Imperial Court and the shogunate had financial difficulties that led to taxes imposed on sake. A document from the mid-Muromachi period (1336~1573) listed the names of over 300 sake breweries in the city of Kyoto.
Also, sake production flourished in Buddhist temples around this time. Sake produced in Buddhist temples by monks is referred to as “Soubousyu.” Produced and sold to raise profits, Soubousyu were required to be high-quality, thus sake production skills advanced greatly during this period.

#japan #japanese #kyoto #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Secret Fad)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Chinese restaurant Machi-chuka is a secret fad in Tokyo. Machi-chuka was featured on TV and also in an entire magazine issue. Recently, one food producer is selling pre-packaged food products and condiments named the “Machi-chuka series,” currently in demand and difficult to obtain.
Although the line to categorize the restaurant is difficult to draw, Machi-chuka is a popular, individually-owned, community-based restaurant serving affordable delicious Chinese cuisine to the community since the Showa Era (1926-1989). At least one Machi-chuka location can be found in town throughout Tokyo. Cleanliness, ambiance, and flavor vary by restaurant location. I frequent different Machi-chuka locations on my days off. Many Machi-chuka restaurants are family-operated and opened to serve factory workers during the period of rapid economic growth, thus stocked with cartoon magazines and installed ashtrays.
Recently, many restaurants serve beer in medium bottles. However, regulars at Machi-chuka say the custom is to order beer in large bottles. I always start by ordering a can of beer with light appetizers, such as bamboo shoots and char siu. If no light appetizers are listed in the menu, I recommend the pan-fried gyoza dumplings. However, gyoza stuffed with filling is not what makes gyoza good.
Considering what to order afterwards, the ideal gyoza dumpling is filled mainly with vegetables and pan-fried to a crispy finish. I struggle with what to order afterwards every time, but will likely order stir-fried liver and garlic chives. The restaurant’s culinary techniques are evident in the exquisite balance between the liver, bean sprouts, chives and the sauce. Then comes the fried rice. Fried rice served at Machi-chuka is best moist, not dry. Stir-frying with lard is the best.
Crab used in crab fried rice must be imitation crab meat, not real crab. Using real crab meat increases the price dramatically. When students and businessmen gather during lunch hours, the more affordable imitation crab meat in greater volume is appreciated by customers. By this time, I’m starting to drink strong Green Tea-hi with a higher portion of shochu eyeballed by the hostess, not streamlined by chain izakaya restaurants.
Curry served at Machi-chuka is not stewed, but prepared to order with stir-fried ingredients, soup for Chinese noodles poured in, curry powder mixed in, and cornstarch dissolved with water added to make it thick. Mostly the same curry powder is used, while the soup for Chinese noodles differ according to the restaurant location, which allows each restaurant to serve their own original curry flavor. Machi-chuka offers a wide range of menu items with deep flavors. I expect my quest to continue for a long time.

#japanese #japanesefood #jizake #sake #tokyo


Prepare for the upcoming party season.

By Yuji Matsumoto

When we get into December, restaurants start becoming busy with year-end parties and Christmas parties, and we should start preparation from the beginning of November. During this time, wines and champagnes are consumed a lot and even served by restaurants, and it is disappointing that sales of Japanese sake is slightly held back by them. However, if you think of what goes good with food, I feel that Japanese sake is the winner. Also it can be consumed at different temperatures and I am happy that hot sake can warm up your body during the cold seasons.
With some thought out presentations, you can drink Japanese sake in style.
Let's start with the glass. By using the white wine glass instead of the usual Japanese sake glass, you can increase the luxury at your table. If you like sparkling alcohol like champagne, it would be interesting to serve sake in a flute glass. Varieties of sparkling Japanese sake has increased recently and we're thankful that they are being sold at reasonable prices. Also, we would like you to try flavor sake which is popular during this season.
If you like to drink hot sake, we suggest you buy the sake warming set on the market that uses candles to warm sake. This would be a very good match with Western style foods.


#christmas #holiday #japanese #japanesesake #party #sake #wine #yearend


Sake Nation “Activities of New Sake Breweries: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

The Japanese sake industry developed as a regional industry long-established in ancient times. On the other hand, this industry is difficult to enter for beginners. New license to produce sake is nearly impossible to obtain, a controversial issue with arguments for both sides.

Meanwhile, new sake breweries do emerge in Japan. Since a new license to produce sake is impossible to obtain, a different corporation typically emerges to rescue a closed sake brewery in many cases.
One such case is Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd., based in Yamaguchi prefecture, producer of “Tenbi.”
Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. (Yamaguchi prefecture) was founded when Choshu Industry Co., Ltd., capitalizing on their photovoltaic (PV) power generating system, emerged to rescue Kodama Brewery that had already ceased sake production. Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. welcomed a female master sake brewer (my junior colleague), a graduate of Tokyo University of Agriculture, Department of Fermentation Science; to regroup as Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. and produce a new sake brand “Tenbi.”
For detailed background information on the brewery, please refer to the home page (https://choshusake.com/history).

The female master sake brewer is passionately and carefully thorough in her excellent sake production skills. The quality sake “Tenbi” produced the first year after the new brewery was built garnered many headlines nationwide.
Since this sake cannot be produced in large volumes yet, export to the U.S. is not available. Since Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. is still a new sake brewery producing a rare new brand of sake with a delicate and delicious flavor, please try “Tenbi” if you see it in Japan on a store shelf.

酒豪大陸「新しい酒蔵の息吹 その1」

#japanese #japanesefood #sake


Sake Nation: “Craft Gin and Vodka: Part 3”

By Kosuke Kuji
The last issue covered craft gin. This issue covers craft vodka.
When we obtained a license to produce spirits, the spirits we were permitted to distill did not include “vodka” at the time. Vodka is a specialty of Russia with no need to force production in Japan, while gin was fast gaining attention in Japan with many craft gin distilleries across Japan and worldwide. Therefore, our plan was to produce gin only.
As we produced gin however, we researched vodka, defined simply as “filtered using active carbon from Japanese white birch.” The alcohol to be filtered can be the same base alcohol as gin, produced from sake rice. The most important point was that Iwate prefecture boasted the highest production volume of coal in Japan. The city of Kuji neighboring the city of Ninohe is home to the renowned “Hiraniwa Kogen,” famous for their forest of Japanese white birch. We decided to use active carbon already generated from decayed Japanese white birch to produce vodka.
Gin production requires “lacquer,” the highest volume produced in Japan. We decided to use carbon from Iwate prefecture, where the highest volume of carbon is produced in Japan, to exude regional characteristics in our craft vodka also. Using two raw materials from Iwate prefecture, boasting the top production volume in Japan for both to distill craft gin and craft vodka, we truly succeeded in creating products produced in Iwate prefecture only.
Our craft gin and craft vodka will both be released in the U.S., so please try them if you find them on store shelves. These products are monuments to the new dreams and challenges of Japanese sake breweries.

酒豪大陸「クラフトジンとウォッカ その3」

#flavor #gin #japanese #sake #vodka


History of Sake

Chapter 1: What is the Origin of Sake?

Sake production (brewing) requires rice “molded” with rice malt, thus the same classification as Chinese rice wine. Compared to the Korean sake production exactly matching the Chinese, Japanese sake varies greatly according to the mold type and sake production process.
These differences are due to geographical and climate conditions more suitable for mold to grow in Japan, and the sea distanced Japan from direct influence by the continental culture. This distance is one reason why the continental culture was not accepted as is in Japan, but led to the invention of original and creative brewing technology unique to Japanese sake, another reason for the major difference. This original and creative brewing technology is still used today.

Wetland Rice Cultivation Introduced
Around the second and third centuries B.C., wetland rice cultivation was introduced from Goetsu, China to North Kyushu prefecture, Japan, and South Korea. Rice planting spread from Northern Kyushu to Sanin, Setouchi. The Yayoi people developed new rice fields at low lands, and concurrently passed on sake production using malted rice prepared from only planted rice.


第1章 酒のルーツは?



#history #japanese #origin #sake #wine


Sake Nation: “Craft Gin and Vodka: Part 2”

By Kosuke Kuji
The last issue covered how the coronavirus pandemic inspired our production of craft gin and vodka as a new business. Although the initial plan was to produce gin only, the decision to also produce craft vodka was made along the way, which I’ll explain in another issue.
First, Japan’s first domestically produced craft gin pioneered by the recent release of “KI NO BI” in Kyoto sparked the gradual launch of craft gin distilleries in Japan.
The greatest appeal of craft gin is the adherence to one rule - use Juniper berry with ingredients that determine the aroma components, such as “botanicals” – allows the use of various botanicals.
In other words, the selection of botanicals add regional characteristics effectively, another appeal of craft gin. The Nanbu Bijin craft gin uses “Japanese lacquer,” the highest volume of world-class botanicals proudly produced in Ninohe city, Iwate prefecture, Japan, where Nanka Bijin is based.
Japanese lacquer of Ninohe city is registered as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage and as Japan Heritage, used as an adhesive to apply gold onto the Kinkaku-ji Temple and to repair the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, an important cultural heritage that supports the national treasures of Japan.
The Japanese lacquer tree is scorched to use as botanicals to produce craft gin abundant in regional characteristics, possible only in Iwate prefecture.
Sake rice left over from the pandemic is used to produce the base alcohol.
This gin made from Japanese lacquer is one-of-a-kind worldwide; a truly valuable craft gin released from Iwate prefecture to Japan to the world, now complete.

酒豪大陸「クラフトジンとウォッカ その2」

#flavor #gin #japanese #sake #vidka


Compatibility between Sake and Japanese Cuisine

Also, clean and dry sake mild in distinct flavor along with pure sake pairs well with any food.
Aromatic sake and refreshing sake pair well with acidic foods or food prepared from bland food ingredients, while pure sake pairs well with simmered and stir-fried cuisines, food that line the dinner table daily, and food flavored with milk and butter.
Rich foods pair well with hot sake rich in flavor and refreshing sake.
Next, let’s think about foods compatible with Japanese sake.
Foods that pairs well with sake evolved since traditional sake fans once licked salt and miso paste while enjoying sake.
Sake is not selected to match the food, yet foods can be selected to enhance delicious sake flavors.
Appetizers paired with sake are unique dishes for which the Western counterparts are rarely found.
Traditionally, licking salt or miso paste is a unique way for true sake fans to enjoy sake.
Appetizers served with sake also tend to be salty, such as salted and dried mullet roe or salted fish guts.
Similar to sake, rice crackers and snacks are also made from rice and contain salt, thus pairs well with sake.
On the other hand, chocolates, cheese, and nuts enhance the sake flavor.
First, classic appetizers paired with Japanese sake consist of salted fish guts, dried mullet roe, and other classic delicacies served in the industry.
Strong salt flavor and rich fermentation flavor enhances the sake flavor.
Nuts faintly aromatic like rice and fermented food products like cheese pair well with sake, along with sweets like chocolate.


#flavor #japanese #pairing #sake #wine


Sake Nation: “Craft Gin and Vodka: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

The widespread novel coronavirus depleted supplies of rubbing alcohol across Japan early in the pandemic and created a supply shortage.
Therefore, regulations were relaxed on an emergency basis for sake breweries like my own to produce rubbing alcohol, as I wrote before in this series.
I met disabled children requiring lifelong care and their families, who thanked me saying, “thank you for saving lives.” To ensure these families lifelong supplies of rubbing alcohol, I vowed to continue “local production (of rubbing alcohol) for local consumption” to service the approximately 200 patients in Iwate prefecture. As I wrote before, the production of Japanese sake decreased dramatically at the same time, with plenty of leftover sake rice originally allocated for contracted farming.
To continue the production of rubbing alcohol indefinitely requires a license for the authorized production of “spirits.” This license to produce spirits also authorizes the production of gin and vodka, along with distilled, highly concentrated alcohol for which the leftover sake rice can be used. Nanbu Bijin decided to produce craft gin and vodka as a new business during the coronavirus pandemic.
I, along with other Japanese sake breweries, decided to start new businesses in this manner.

酒豪大陸「クラフトジンとウォッカ その1」

#flavor #japanese #pairing #sake #wine


Pairing Japanese Sake with Foods


Bad pairing refers to the delicious flavor diminished when sake is paired with food.
Depending on the combination, the sake flavor may counter the flavor of the food, generating unpleasant aroma and texture.
In many cases for example, sake may enhance the odor of fish and seafood. On the other hand, we want to avoid combinations where the balance between the sake vs. food flavors are bad and completely overwhelms the flavor of the paired item.

Therefore, let’s confirm the following.
-Does Japanese sake pair well with other foods besides Japanese cuisine?
Japanese sake pairs well not only with Japanese cuisine, but also with various other cuisines such as Western, Chinese, and ethnic cuisines. In addition, Japanese sake also pairs well with food ingredients other than Japanese food products such as butter, cheese, and spices.

- Flavor of sake paired with food is characteristic by sake type.
For each sake type, certain combinations pair well. Depending on the sake classification type, food that pairs well differs according to the flavors and aroma.
For example, mellow sake pairs well with rich foods, pure sake pairs well with foods strong in umami flavor, refreshing sake pairs well with refreshing foods, and aromatic sake pairs well with light foods.
Now, let’s pair specific sake with foods.
The basic approach when selecting sake is whether to pair sake similar in flavor (to the food), or to pair the food with sake completely different in flavor. Combining sake with foods similar in flavor ensures the best compatibility. For example, sweet foods are compatible with sweet sake, while spicy foods are compatible with acidity sake. On the other hand, combining alcohol with a unique, different flavor can generate a new delicious flavor. This type of phenomenon is referred to as ‘marriage’ in the wine world, also slightly more difficult to pair.





#flavor #japanese #pairing #sake #wine


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