The best season for sake is here. Of course, sake is great just how it is, but we’d like to introduce some special ways that it can be enjoyed during the cold months.
A well-known way of drinking sake in the winter is called “fugu no hirezake” or pufferfish fin sake. Pufferfish is a luxurious food and hirezake is often available at nice restaurants that serve the fish. However, you can also make it at home because you can easily purchase dried pufferfish fins. Use two pufferfish fins that are about 3cm and toast them until they start to char. Put them inside your sake cup. Pour tobikirikan hot sake into the cup (80°C or 176°F). Put a lid on the cup for about 3 to 5 minutes so that the fins can steep. You could also put the sake on a burner to make hirezake as well. The fins contain amino acids that bring out the umami and richness of flavor, sure to spread throughout your mouth and warm your entire body. For people who can’t find fancy dried pufferfish fins near them, we recommend replacing them with dried white fish like tilefish or red seam breams.
Another way to drink sake that involves fish is called kotsuzake. Fishbones from white fish like the red snapper and flounder are toasted and served in tobikirikan sake. Like the hirezake, the charred fish will have a very rich aroma like the sake itself, and the fishiness will be eliminated through toasting. Bones are usually thrown out, but trust us that the bones and marrow have a savoriness that will melt right into the sake and makes it incredibly delicious. Kotsuzake can also be made by using a whole river fish like sweetfish, char, landlocked salmon, or minnow. The fish is cooked until it is crispy and then hot sake is poured on top of it. Make sure that you don’t use too much salt when cooking the fish, or else it will spoil the sake flavor.
We’ll introduce one last way of enjoying sake with seafood. Boil or grill a whole crab and separate the shell from the body. Pour hot sake inside of the shell. The crab butter and the chunks of crab meat stuck on the shell blend well with the sake and gives it a rich flavor. Don’t waste the crab shell and butter. Enjoy it with sake!
Hot sake is an easy and delicious way to keep yourself warm during the winter. Why not try it?