Sake Tasting with Slow Food at Harajuku Kitchen
Sake, the Japanese rice wine, and its unique properties are still not widely known in Scotland despite some mixologists using it more and restaurants starting to suggest food pairings.
Sake specialist, Masayo Nuttall from World Sake Imports, travelled from London, to educate guests on the fermented rice wines including their production process and tasting methods. Note, however, that sake simply means alcoholic beverage in Japan.
Masayo told us of the over 1200 sake breweries in Japan and we taste rice wines crafted in the mountainside of the prefectures of Kyoto (Tamagawa), Akita (Akitabare) and Nagano (Masumi).
The flavours and body of the wine come from the polishing of the rice. Generally speaking, the higher the polishing ratio (percentage of the rice kernel that remains after polishing) the more refined the sake.
Premium sakes fall into three main categories junmai, ginjo and daiginjo each of which lends a different flavour.
The tasting started with an Akitabare Daiginjo (Winter Blossom) light and fragrant that Chef Nobuo paired with Sashimi Moriawase made with hand-dived West of Scotland Scallops, salmon, seabass and Mediterranean tuna with seaweed, daikon radish, tsuma and shiso (beefsteak plant).
For the second tasting, Masayo, opted for a Masui Shiro (Sake Matinee), balanced and smooth to help clean the fat of the paired slow-cooked Scottish Mackerel, simmered in Miso, dashi, sake, mirin, and Daikon radish. This dish is a work of art as the strong taste of the fish is balanced by the other ingredients.
Finally, a fuller-bodied Tamagawa Tokubetsu Junmai (Heart of Oak) nutty with a wild berry zing the spirit is accompanied by an Aburi Charshu pork belly with soy marinated boiled egg and Japanese slaw.
If you are interested in tasting and understanding pairing, the staff at Harajuku Kitchen will be happy to introduce you to the world of sake. (E. Vanello)
Harajuku Kitchen - 10 Gillespie Pl, Edinburgh EH10 4HS - - 0131 285 8182