Sake can be enjoyed with any country’s cuisine, but it’s best enjoyed with Japanese food.
In the same way that Shaoxing wine is used in China and wine is used in Europe, sake is commonly used in Japan to prepare Japanese food.
In this article, I’m going to give you some tips on how to make Japanese tapas.
Sake and cooking sake
In Japanese supermarkets, you can find “cooking sake” in the seasoning department along with soy sauce and mirin (sweet cooking sake).
Cooking sake has salt, sweeteners, and other secondary ingredients added to the sake, making it easier to flavor food, and the typical Japanese family uses “cooking sake” to prepare home cooking.
However, if you ask a chef at a restaurant specializing in Japanese food, he or she will always tell you to use not cooking sake but sake, even if it is cheap, when making Japanese food.
Benefits of using sake in cooking
When sake is used in cooking, its aroma and organic acidity help to remove odors from the ingredients.
Sake also contains amino acids, which are the umami components of sake, which help to bring out the flavor and richness of the food and to soften the ingredients.
Japanese tapas with sake
Steamed asari clam with sake
In China, it is steamed with Shaoxing wine, and in Europe it is steamed with white wine, and asari is a perfect match for sake also.
・Asari clams – 300g
・2 tablespoons of sake
・1/2 teaspoon salt
・1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1. Remove the salt from the clams
2. Put the clams in a colander and drain
3. Place the clams in a hot frying pan, pour the sake over them and cover with a lid to steam
4. When all the shells are open, pour salt and soy sauce over the clams and it is done
*The clams themselves are salty, so if the saltiness is low or thick, adjust the amount of salt and soy sauce.
This is a teriyaki using “soy sauce”, “mirin” and “sake”, which can be said to be the standard seasoning for Japanese food.
The ratio of soy sauce to mirin is 1:1 and sake to 1. This is said to be the golden ratio for all-around Japanese dishes, and it is used for simmered dishes such as “meat and potatoes”
・1 piece of chicken thigh
・A pinch of salt
・2 tablespoons of potato starch
・1 tablespoon of sake
・1 tablespoon of soy sauce
・1 tablespoon of mirin
・1 teaspoon sugar
- Dust the chicken thighs with salt and sprinkle potato starch over them
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, add a little oil in excess of the amount of oil, add 2 and fry for about 5 minutes
- When the chicken is browned, turn the chicken thighs over and grill them for 2 minutes
- Combine sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and heat in a frying pan over low heat
- When it is all mixed up and thickened, take the chicken out of the pan and cut it up into bite-size pieces
If you don’t have “soy sauce” and “mirin”, which are important for making Japanese food, you can use these instead.
Soy sauce: Shēng chōu (light soy sauce)
Mirin: Coke or honey
Recommendation of Japanese food with sake
If you enjoy sake, try the above recipes for simple Japanese tapas.
You may think it’s a waste to use sake in your cooking, but just by using it in your Japanese cooking, you’ll be able to enjoy the taste of the dish, and the chemistry between the two is even better, so give it a try!