The Science of Pairing Sake with Food. Asabiraki Namacho and Izumidai Sashimi

11 Oct 2018

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The combability of sake and food is very much related to the components of umami and acids, sweetness, saltness, fat content both in food and sake. Fragrance components contained in food and sake also play and important role in pairing them well. The aroma of fermented liquors and distilled liquors is especially related to the aroma of foods and it is the factor when it comes to pairing sake with foods.

The fishy smell in seafood comes mainly from trimethylamine. Trimethylamine is alkaline so adding acidic foods (seasonings) such as miso or soy sauce and citrus flavors neutralizes and subdues the fishy smell. Sake also contains organic acid and is acidic enough to neutralize the fishy odor and that is one of the reasons why raw fish pairs so well with sake. Another reason is that both fish and sake contain amino acid components known as umami, which makes this combination even better.

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That is why we recommend pairing sake with solid umami bonds with raw or lightly seared fish. Asabiraki Namacho has a rich umami taste so it is our recommended sake for pairing with sashimi. Asabiraki Namacho is a very fresh semi dry sake which has been stored under 0° in a cool room and only pasteurized once just before the bottling. It is a fresh sake as at its birth. Since this Namacho sake only goes through one pasteurization, the result is a very aromatic, fruity and rich taste. A deep, intense flavor that smoothly fades on the palate for a dry, clean finish.

Asabiraki Namacho falls into honzojo category sakes. Only a very small amount of distilled alcohol is added to the sake to the final stage of moromi (fermentation mash). This is done for several reasons.  Many brewers believe that the addition of the distilled alcohol brings out more fragrance and rounds out the flavors of the sake. Drinkers believe the distilled alcohol lightens the flavor  making it more drinkable than its junmai counterparts. Sake connoisseurs may believe that junmai is the superior form of sake, but honjozo is also considered premium sake, since the rice polishing must be at least 70% just as in junmai. Today, honjozo sake retains still its popularity among brewers and sake lovers.

The food pairing we recommend is Izumidai sashimi grade frozen Tilapia fillet. It has a similar quality with Tai (Red Seabream). It doesn't have a skin or bones and is ready to use. Also, it leaves almost no food waste at all. This product is low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates, sodium and a good source of protein. It also contains vitamin D, vitamin B12 and potassium.

Enjoy this combination of Asabiraki Namacho and Izumidai Sashimi!

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