Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Cooking with Dassai 23

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Sake lovers might not want to miss the rare opportunity to taste Japanese dishes made using Dassai 23 sake kasu (the lees or solids that are left after the sake is pressed from the fermented mash).  On Tuesday, November 24,  a tasting at The Japanese Culinary Center will feature sake kasu-marinated black cod and chicken as well as a salmon sake kasu nabe (hot pot).  Attendees will receive a free package of sake kasu for at home use.

For more details please visit the Japanese Culinary Center website.

Summer Surprise: Heirloom Tomatoes and Yamahai

Friday, August 21st, 2009


August is the height of tomato season so we’ve been indulging ourselves at every opportunity. Due to several factors including a wet June and July, there has been much discussion and angst about a blight affecting much of the tomato crop in the Northeast this year. The result has been a surge in price, particularly with heirloom tomatoes. Current prices at the Union Square Greenmarket range from $6 to $8 per pound. Because we look forward to this late summer treat so much and want to support the farmers in their hour of need, we continue to buy them but are more careful about weighing them before we buy.

However, even the high price has not discouraged us from purchasing our beloved summer favorite heirloom tomatoes. This year, we experimented with pairing our tomatoes with different types of sake. Since tomatoes have an abundance of umami, we thought that there would be a natural affinity for an umami-laden Yamahai junmai sake. For our choice of Yamahai, we decided on Kuroobi Do Do Yamahai Junmai from Fukumitsuya brewery in Ishikawa prefecture. Usually, we like to warm this sake to further awaken its earthy, rich, creamy character. But this particular food pairing, coupled with the August heat and humidity suggested that giving this brew a slight chill in the fridge was the way to go.

We were delighted but not surprised to discover that the Kuro Obi Do Do and tomatoes were a sensuous, palate-pleasing match. The pairing of the sweetness and slight acidity of tomatoes and the earthy flavor of Yamahai danced a seamless tango in our mouths. The mozzarella we had added to the salad also played perfectly off the lactic elements that are the hallmark of Yamahai sake.

So don’t wait for the fall or winter to drink Yamahai (or its cousin Kimoto) sake, its umami makes it a wonderful complement to some of summer’s best produce, locally grown tomatoes!

(For a complete selection of Yamahai and Kimoto sake please visit SAKAYA.)

Thanksgiving With Sake

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Thanksgiving sake

For many, choosing a wine to match the diversity of dishes associated with the traditional Thanksgiving meal  poses a challenge as imposing as finding a tie/pair of shoes that matches every suit/outfit in your closet and gaining the agreement of your friends and family on the decision.  Impossible? Insane? Absolutely.  With the big day close at hand, and facing the annual beverage selection conundrum, why not take a new tack entirely?  You know what we’re about to suggest don’t you?  That’s right…

Drinking sake with Thanksgiving isn’t as unorthodox an idea as you might think.  The flavors of roast turkey, cranberry relish, and sweet potatoes all have components that pair incredibly well with a number of sake.  Kimoto and yamahai sake’s creamy, earthy notes  are a perfect complement to the roast turkey. We drank Hiraizumi Junmai Yamahai last year and still haven’t found a wine that was as enjoyable with this Thanksgiving centerpiece.  Likewise, a complex, compact Ginjo from Okunomatsu or a slightly rich, fruity Junmai such as Urakasumi would be perfect partners for the Sweet Potatoes in Mirin recipe that we’ve included here.   If you’re a cranberry relish fan, try the recipe below with your meal and either Chokaisan Junmai Daiginjo or Kudoki Jozu Junmai Ginjo with their clean, apple-tinged flavors.

Come visit us at SAKAYA and tell us what you’re planning to make.  We’ll be happy to offer some sake suggestions.  Make this the year  that brings the change we need to the Thanksgiving table, the change from the same old beverage of the last eight years (or so), the change to Thanksgiving with sake!

Cranberry Orange Relish  adapted from New York Times

1 cups fresh cranberries
1 oranges, pitted, peel removed from one orange
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

1. Wash the fresh cranberries, and grind them in a meat grinder using a fine blade or process in a food processor until the cranberries are finely chopped.
2. Cut the oranges into eighths, and grind or process until finely chopped.
3. Combine fresh cranberries, oranges, maple syrup, Grand Marnier, sugar and nutmeg; stir well, and refrigerate at least an hour but up to 3 or 4 days.

Yield: 2 cups.

Sweet Potatoes in Mirin
2  Sweet Potatoes or yams, wash well and cut into 3/4 slices
1/4 cups mirin
1/4 cups sake
1 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cups water

1. Combine the sweet potatoes or yam, mirin, sake, sugar, 1 tablespoons of soy sauce and water in a small sauce pan.
2. Cover and cook over medium heat until the sweet potato is tender, about15 minute. Add a little more water if necessary.
3. Taste it and adjust seasonings.  (If it needs sauce sauce, add more.  If it needs more sugar, add more.)

Hoppin’ Down the Sake Trail…Nihonshu for Easter

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Why not blaze a new beverage path and drink sake with Easter dinner this year! We’ve come up with seven sake to precede and accompany the traditional Easter meal.

Start things off with a fresh, lively unpasteurized sake as an aperatif to excite and prep the palate. Ichinokura Namazake (Miyagi) or Eiko Fuji Namazake (Yamagata) pair perfectly with crudites with Wasabi-Mayo dip and light finger snacks like edamame or classic deviled eggs.

When you move to the table for the main menu, the fruit and subtle sweetness of Chiyomusubi Tokubetsu Junmai (Tottori) or Nanbu Bijin “Southern Beauty” Tokubetsu Junmai (Iwate) , or the full flavored well-balanced acidity of Kagatobi Yamahai (Ishikawa) are all great complements to the salty, smokey, and sweet flavors of traditional brown sugar and mustard glazed ham.

Recommended sake-friendly side dishes such as arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, steamed asparagus with chopped hard boiled egg drizzled with olive oil, sauteed artichoke hearts, and/or cucumber sushi rolls won’t be in supporting roles when paired with the citrusy notes Tsukinokatsura “Yanagi” Junmai Ginjo (Kyoto) or silky, smooth Shimeharitsuru “Jun” Jumai Ginjo (Niigata).


Wasabi-Mayo Dip

1/2 cup Kewpie Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Mix all the ingredients together. Serve with crudites.