Japanese Sake Enhances the Flavors of Various Cuisines

Junmai sake is sake produced from fermentation-mash - prepared from rice, malted rice and water – fermented, then squeezed. No other ingredient is used other than water, added afterwards to adjust the alcohol content. Needless to say, Junmai sake is truly pure rice wine, the fundamental form of all Japanese sake.    

Sake is also used as a condiment in Japanese cuisine, mainly to neutralize the smell of food ingredients and add umami flavor to enhance flavor, tenderize food ingredients, etc. Sake is essential in preparing seafood and meat dishes for this reason. In addition, sake is used in dishes dressed with sauces, pickled dishes, and dishes not heated after sake is added. To prepare dishes that simply use the flavor of sake without adding any alcohol from sake, simply heat sake in a pot to evaporate the alcohol content before use. This is called “nikiri-sake” (“boiled (evaporated) sake”). 

Next, let’s review representative examples of cooking methods using sake as the main condiment. 

Saka-iri (reduced down with sake): Cooking method using the flavor of sake to neutralize the gamey smell and odd flavors from seafood and meat, etc. Pour a small amount of sake into a pot with the food ingredients and simmer until the excess liquid is gone.    

Saka-shio (sake seasoned with salt): Sake flavor seasoned with a small quantity of salt. A cooking method used to marinate food ingredients in sake with salt. Otherwise, the mixture is brushed onto grilled dishes to adjust the flavor to a refined finish. 

Saka-ni (simmered in sake with salt): To simmer food ingredients in a large volume of sake, seasoned only with salt. A cooking method that maximizes the flavor of sake. Any soy sauce used is added in very minimal quantities.  

Saka-happou: Sake added to dashi (soup broth), mainly to give food ingredients with peculiar flavors a mild-flavored finish. A type of happou-dashi (a combination of mixed seasonings, often combining dashi (soup broth) with mirin (sweet rice wine) and soy sauce).    

By the way, “mirin” (sweet rice wine) was first produced from the end of the Muromachi period (1336-1392) into the Edo period (1603-1867), initially enjoyed as sweet sake. Towards the end of the Edo period however, mirin started to be used mainly as a condiment. Today, mirin is cherished as an essential condiment to Japanese cuisine, used more frequently than sake. The main components of mirin are divided broadly into sugar, alcohol, amino acids, organic acids, and aroma components. This complex composition of mirin ingredients is known to generate various culinary effects.    

These culinary effects are: ① Adds a refined sweet flavor to dishes, ② Enhances umami flavors, ③ Adds a glaze, ④ Adds a suitable grilled/broiled color, ⑤ Adds an enticing aroma, ⑥ Adds a savory and smooth flavor, ⑦ Enhances the penetration of flavors, ⑧ Prevents foods from falling apart, ⑨ Neutralizes the smells of food, etc.  



また、日本酒は日本料理では調味料としても用いられる。その主な効果は、材料の臭みを消す、旨みを加えて風味をよくする、材料を柔らかくする、などである。そのため、とくに魚介類や肉類の調理には欠かせない調味料のーつとされている。また、和えものや酢のものなど、酒を加えた後は加 熱しない料理など、アルコールは邪魔だが酒の風味だけを生かす場合には、酒を鍋などに入れて火にかけ、アルコール分を飛ばしてから用いる。これを「煮切り酒」という。 


・酒煎り 魚介類や鳥肉などの生臭みやくせを除き、酒の風味を移すための調理法。鍋に材料と酒少量を入れて、汁気がなくなる程度に煎りつける。 

・酒塩 少量の塩で味をととのえた酒。下処理として材料を漬け込んだり、 焼きものの仕上げに塗ると、味がととのい上品な仕上がりになる。 

・酒煮(酒塩煮) たっぷりの酒を使って煮ること。味つけは塩だけで、 酒の風味を最大限に生かす調理法。醤油を使う場合は、ごく少量に控える。

・酒八方(酒塩八方) だしに酒を加えたもので、主としてくせのある材料をあっさりと炊く場合に用いる八方だしの一種。  

ところで、「みりん」は室町時代末期から江戸時代にかけて造られ始め、 当初は甘口の酒として飲用されていたが、江戸時代後半頃から主として調味料として用いられるようになった。今日では日本酒以上に、日本料理に欠かせない調味料として重宝されている。 みりんの主な成分は、糖分、アルコール分、アミノ酸、有機酸、香り成分に大別されるが、これらの複雑な成分組成が、みりんのさまざまな調理効果を生むことが分かっている。その効果は、①料理に上品な甘みをつける、②旨みを増強する、③照りつやを出す、④適度な焼き色をつける、⑤ 好ましい香りをつける、⑥味をまろやかにする、⑦味の浸透性をよくする、 ⑧材料の煮くずれを防止する、⑨材料の生臭みを消す、などである。 
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #junmai #sake


Purchase Motive and Sake Labels

By Yuji Matsumoto

When I go to a nearby Japanese supermarket, I often find Americans at complete loss as to what to choose in the sake/shochu section.  The same goes even for the Japanese, unless you have the brands memorized.  So how can we categorize sake to make it easy for consumers to choose? We need to look into their purchase motivations, and what questions they have.

Consumers’ purchase motivations

• I like sake A because it’s rich-bodied and has good acidity and pairs well with meat dishes, but I couldn’t find it in a supermarket. How can I find something similar to it?

• Which sake will be good as a birthday present for my girlfriend(boyfriend), who usually prefers red wines with higher tannin levels?

• I usually enjoy drinking B, but today is a special occasion and I want something similar but more expensive. How do I choose one?

• What’s good as hot sake?

Generally speaking, these are the sorts of questions normal consumers have. 

It’s impossible to provide answers to all such questions and display sake accordingly, but it is possible to categorize them by the aroma, body, and food parings. Below chart is what I would use as an attempt to categorize most of the sake, based on my innumerous tastings in the past. 

First, have the breweries categorize all their sake being exported to U.S. into “zones.” If they think their sake is refreshing with an aroma of a cantaloupe, it should be in the “summer zone.”  The categorizations should be displayed on labels in an industry-wide standardized format.  Restaurants and retailers can then post posters or hang messages on the neck of the bottles, to explain the zoning map. The breweries can have their own logos in the middle of the labels as they wish. I sincerely hope that sake bottle labels can be standardized as such.




• Aという濃醇なボディーで酸味香のある肉料理に合う日本酒が好きだが、スーパーに行ったらこの銘柄が無かった。Aという銘柄に近いものを探すのにはどうするか。

• 今回は、彼(彼女)の誕生日なので、普段タンニンの効いた赤ワイン好きな彼(彼女)が気に入る日本酒はどれだろうか。

• 普段はBという銘柄を好んで飲んでいるが、今日は特別な日なので値段が高い同じ傾向の日本酒がほしいがどうやって選ぶか。

• 熱燗に適した日本酒はどれ?



#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #junmai #sake


Sake Nation “A new way to promote Japanese sake combines a live-stream (two-dimensional) event with an in-person tasting (three-dimensional) event: Pa

By Kosuke Kuji

A new way to promote Japanese sake fusing a 2-dimensional live-stream with a 3-dimensional in-person event requires us real-world sake brewers to first jump into the 2-dimensional world of Vtubers (virtual YouTubers). 

Vtubers and sake brewers entered the same world via Zoom to participate in a virtual sake brewery tour and sake tasting event. 

Viewers who enjoy sake in the 3-dimensional real world and others who enjoy interacting in the 2-dimensional digital world discussed Ginjo together in the same screen, indicative of endless possibilities for future collaboration.  

Further, this collaboration with Vtubers produced an illustration by the Vtubers used on the sake label, printed onto sake cups to create limited-edition merchandise for this event. These merchandise were a huge hit, sold out on the e-commerce platform mercari, thanks to online viewers who never purchased Japanese sake before. The 2-dimesional world fused with the 3-dimensional world for Vtubers, who enjoyed a live event from the comfort of their home as they enjoyed sake during this exclusive collaboration.  

Lastly, the “Enjoy Ginjo Fair” was held at the Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Ikebukuro in late September. Here, Vtuber Yuzuru Himesaki participated by video in the digital 2-dimensional world, while sake breweries participated in the 3-dimensional real world, and performed the ritual of breaking open a ceremonial sake barrel. Here, the 2-dimensional digital world fused into this 3-dimensional in-person event. 

In this way, traditional Japanese industries like sake breweries jumped into a new world using the latest cutting-edge IT technology, a truly fruitful collaboration and experience. 

I hope this fusion of two worlds of different dimensions attracts new Japanese sake fans to revitalize the domestic consumption of sake in Japan, showing continued decline. 

酒豪大陸「二次元と三次元の融合による新たな日本酒の道 その3」






#alljapannews #daiginjo #japanese #japanesefood #jizake #junmai #sake


Sake Nation “A new way to promote Japanese sake combines a live-stream (2D) event with an in-person tasting (3D) event: Part I”

Sake Nation “A new way to promote Japanese sake combines a live-stream (two-dimensional) event with an in-person tasting (three-dimensional) event: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji
The production volume of Japanese sake has been dropping continuously in Japan to date since 1975.
To the contrary, production volume of premium sake like “Ginjo” and “Junmai” are continuing to increase.
However, Japan’s population is starting to decline, with less opportunities to consume alcohol in part due to the aging population. Getting Japan’s population to consume alcohol is getting more difficult in this day and age. Despite the demand for sake increasing overseas, the production volume is not that high, another challenge to tackle since not all breweries export sake.
In this predicament, breweries industry-wide joined forces and founded “The Japan Ginjo Sake Association” to introduce flavorful Ginjo sake throughout Japan.
Founded in 1980 before premium sake was launched, the association celebrates 41 years since their foundation.
The Japan Ginjo Sake Association reflected on their long history of 40 years and organized the tasting event, “Enjoy! Ginjo Fair,” to take on new challenges against the Coronavirus pandemic.
This new type of tasting event is the first in the world to feature a VTuber (virtual YouTuber) to combine a live-stream (two-dimensional) event with an actual tasting (three-dimensional) event to introduce the appeal of Ginjo sake.
The next report elaborates on the background that led to the organization of this event. Please stay tuned!

The Japan Ginjo Sake Association Home Page

酒豪大陸「二次元と三次元の融合による新たな日本酒の道 その1」


#ginjo #japanese #japanesefood #junmai #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (200 years of history)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Kanemasu Brewery (Shibata city, Niigata prefecture), producer of Junmai Daiginjo “Hatsuhana” and “Kinmasu,” celebrated 200 years since their foundation. Kanemasu Brewery was founded as “Takahashi Shuzo” in Shin-Niigata city, Niigata prefecture in 1822 and relocated to their current location in Shibata city in 1930 to access quality water and rice. I received an invitation from Kanemasu brewery to celebrate 200 years in business. Since the liquor shop I operate is a client of the brewery, I visited Shibata city, Niigata prefecture to attend the celebration. On my way, I first stopped by Aumont Sake Brewery, Inc., also located in Shibata city, Niigata prefecture.
The reason for my visit was to verify a rumor that started when Ichishima Sake Brewery changed their name to Aumont Sake Brewery, Inc. in February 2022. A rumor that the brewery’s retail shop became their promotional shop and tourist attraction circulated. Upon arrival, I was surprised to see how clean the brewery was, more like a posh Japanese restaurant in the suburbs in appearance. When I stepped inside, sake brands on the shelves consisted not only of Aumont Sake Brewery, but also by Kikusui and Kanemasu Breweries. The retail shop selling local food products is equipped with a food court, acting as a promotional shop for Aumont Sake Brewery as rumored. Although I wanted to purchase some local specialty foods, I still had to reach my primary destination. Therefore, I put off my purchase and headed to Kanemasu Brewery. Upon arrival, several participants had already arrived, along with food trucks from a local café on stand-by.
First, I spoke to the founder and master sake brewer, enjoyed a glass of beer and sake served as a gesture to welcome my visit, then followed the master sake brewery on a tour of the brewery. Although I was already familiar with the inside of the brewery, it’s not often I enter the brewery with many other visitors. Just seeing the reaction of other visitors was interesting. A 40-minute introduction of the brewery was presented throughout the day, with many visitors listening to the master sake brewer’s introduction. Next came the main product of the event, coffee liquor. In September, Brazil celebrated 200 years since declaring independence from Portugal. To commemorate this celebration, the Brazilian Embassy consulted Kanemasu Brewery, also celebrating their 200-year anniversary, to discuss a collaborative product produced from Brazilian coffee beans.
Kasutori shochu (made from distilling sake lees left over from fermenting sake) is the main shochu produced by a Japanese sake brewery, produced by Kanemasu Brewery using pot distillation. The brewery also produces rice shochu, sweet potato shochu, and distilled beverages. Shochu and Brazilian coffee beans were used to produce this collaborative coffee liquor, refreshing to the palate with a fragrant coffee aroma that calms the mind of the consumer, completed to perfection. The joint celebration between the Brazilian Embassy and Kanemasu Brewery continued for several days until preparation for production started, which consisted of a photo exhibition, capoeira performances, musical performances, etc. The day left me mesmerized by the depth of Japanese sake that established a fated connection made possible only after 200 years in business.


#daiginjo #japanese #japanesesake #jizake #junmai #niigata #sake


Communicate the appeal of sake to customers

By Yuji Matsumoto

Happy New Year! We look forward to working with you again this year.

No matter how good a product is, the message needs to be communicated for customers to try the product.
let’s consider when the appropriate timing is and how to communicate the appeal of Japanese sake in a way that leads to sales.

Consider who the message is directed to
Are chefs, servers, and bartenders trained appropriately? Training the staff to thoroughly understand why a brand of sake tastes delicious and why customers should try it is important because a single try will not be sufficient to understand even ten percent of the appeal of a brand. Therefore, please have staff try the sake paired with the cuisine.

Of course, a good place to start would be to have the servers change their ordering from “What can I get you to drink?” to “It’s cold outside, would you like to try some hot sake?” This suggestion alone is a major difference. Also, please mention two to three different brands of Japanese sake during the recommendation.

Speak informatively to customers in a way that generates a response like “Oh really?” For example, “How about AAA, a dry and refreshing sake from Niigata that goes great with sushi?” Or “Would you like to try BBB, a brand of sake from Akita that has body and goes great with teriyaki?” The point is to word the recommendations into easy-to-understand sales pitches that makes customers want to try the brand. Offer two to three different brands that range from reasonable to mid-range prices.






#japanese #japanesefood #japaneserestaurant #junmai #kanpai #newyear #sake


Let's drink Sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

What is good sake?
Certainly one standard is the price, but we need to think if we can find a sake that has the value to satisfy ones taste. It is important to find a "sake that suits me" instead of a good sake. There would be a tendency for one that likes fully body red wines to prefer a Junmai-Kimoto or Honjozo type, and one that likes a young, fruity chardonnay to prefer a gentle, strong aroma Daiginjyo type.

Cold or Hot
Many people think that high quality sake should be enjoyed cold but this is wrong. Compared to fine quality sake which you can drink without worrying about the temperature, sake that has poor balance should be enjoyed extremely cold.

Tasting method
Sip it with air like you would with wine. For the glass, it is important to pour a small amount into a glass for white wines type and swish it around lightly to come in contact with air.

Drinking container is important
It is amazing that the taste can totally change with the glass you use not only for sake but for wines and beers also. If you want to enjoy the taste, especially examine the aroma, it is good to use a small white wine glass. If you are having it hot, it is good to use a smaller ceramic type container that doesn't have the shape to be smothered with alcohol steam and doesn't cover your nose when you put it to your mouth.






#japanese #japanesefood #junmai #sake #tasting


Get Your Appetite Back with Sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

The other day I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas due to business, but couldn't believe that the day high was 45 degrees C (113 degF). With hot winds and scorching heat that may seem to melt the asphalt, I lost my appetite and found myself in an unhealthy predicament to spend a whole week in an air-conditioned room.
To ease my body from this heat, I decided to join (mariage) miso grill with a summer favorite vegetable nasu (eggplant) with extremely cold "Junmai Daiginjyo" .
Nasu doesn't contain much of nutrition value, but as you know miso (soybean paste) helps you with fatigue recovery, cancer prevention, cholesterol control, proper bowel movement, beauty improvement, brain activation, age prevention, stimulation of body function etc and the list goes on. Also, soybeans that are the main content contain fine quality protein, an abundance of necessary amino acids, saponin that is known to prevent increase of peroxide lipids, different vitamins, potassium, and food fibers etc. You couldn't be more than happy that miso goes well with Japanese sake.
So why don't we enjoy ourselves by having high nutritional value miso food and Junmai Daiginjo and help our body recover from the summer heat.



#daiginjo #japanesefood #junmai #sake


Harmony of Sake and Cuisine

By Yuji Matsumoto

Especially when it comes to pairing Japanese sake with food, many people likely think, “What’s with the exaggeration…? It doesn’t really matter.”
In this issue, I’d like to pass on to our readers a trick that enhances one’s abilities to pair sake with food.
First, please select three brands of sake with very different properties. The differences in properties are hard to tell without drinking the sake, but first, let’s select the sake according to the information listed on each label.
For example, please select a Junmai Daiginjo, Tokubestu Junmai, and Junmai Kimoto, all produced in different regions like Akita, Niigata, and Hyogo prefectures, etc. Sake produced in the U.S. are reasonably priced, for including a few of these brands in the mix may also be fun. Please be sure to use the same shaped glass for each of the three sake brands. It’s best to store the glasses in the refrigerator for approximately 3 hours and to maintain their temperature at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. (white wine glasses are better)
And now, for the cuisine. There’s no need to stick with Japanese cuisine, for it’s fun to also pair sake with Chinese and Italian (please avoid excessively spicy or strong garlic-flavored dishes) cuisines. Please be careful to compare the balance between the sake and the food upon consumption, the changes detected in the umami flavors, and any changes in the aroma particular to that food, and aftertaste. If these factors in the pairing are satisfying, then it’s safe to say the pairing was a “success.”


#alljapannews #junmai #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Circumstances Surrounding Japanese Sake at the End of the Year)

By Ryuji Takahashi
Last year, many could not travel to their hometown due to the impact from the coronavirus, thus celebrated the year-end/New Year at home. For this reason, Japanese sake sold in high volumes compared to the end of the previous year. High-end sake over 10,000 JPY also sold in high quantities because expenses spared from having no year-end parties to attend was directed instead on high-end sake to celebrate the New Year at home. December 2021 started with anxiety over year-end sales as the emergency declaration was lifted. Anxiety stemmed from the concern that people who couldn’t return to their hometown the previous year to celebrate the New Year will all leave at once and empty the cities.
In addition, although consumers can now dine inside restaurants, some companies cancelled their year-end parties resulting in fewer orders from restaurants, signaling minimal increase in sales. The outcome was as expected. Early to mid-December generated lower sales than anticipated, surprisingly low for the month of December. Later half of the month of December, shipments to other prefectures picked up at the timing people returned to their hometown to celebrate the New Year holidays. Sales of high-end sake comparable to the previous year finally appeared to signal a return to normal sales for the month of December. However, sales gradually dropped, marked with large sales recorded only during the last three days of the year. This drop in sales seems attributable to the cancelled year-end parties, people returning home to their hometowns, and celebrating the New Year at home as anticipated.
We also received help from sake breweries to sell sake at sales events. Kondo Brewing of Gunma prefecture, producer of Akagisan, sells mainly Akagisan Junmai Daiginjo produced by squeezing Yamadanishiki rice (from Hyogo prefecture) using a centrifugal machine. Echi Shuzo from Shiga prefecture sells mainly TOMITSURU CHIKURIN 2021 and TOMITSURU SHIUN 2021, both winners of Kura Master 2021 held in France. Kanemasu Brewery of Niigata prefecture sells their new Ginjo Draft “Takarazukushi” and “Junmai-Ginjo “Hatsuyuki,” in addition to Junmai-Daiginjo “Hatsuhana” from last year.
Sales events held jointly between Hakuro Shuzo of Niigata prefecture and Fujisaki Sobei Shoten of Saitama prefecture - managed under the same group - sold approximately ten different types of sake. All the sales events were successful, generating high sales during weekends only. Working with sake breweries to sell sake together brings back fond memories of working for a sake shop, which motivates me. Even as I write this article however, the new omicron variant is infecting many. I only hope and pray we don’t return to a time when sake cannot be enjoyed together in public.

#contest #covid19 #daiginjo #dinein #jizake #junmai #kura #master #niigata #sakagura #sake #tokyo #wagyu


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