Breweries, wineries, distilleries; Portland, Oregon has them all. Its craft beverage scene is the envy of cities around the nation. But sake? Yep: I visited SakéOne in Forest Grove to view the sake-brewing process firsthand and learn what distinguishes Oregon sake from Japanese.
'sake' on Serious Eats
Did you know that sake is great with cheese? We chat with Sushi Seki's sake sommelier Yasuyuki Suzuki about how to learn about sake, unusual sake/food pairings, and more...
A few pros—including Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery and Jordan Salcito of Momofuku—tell us which beers, wines, sakes, and ciders we should be sipping with each style of ramen.
The Dai-drop ($7 each; 6 for $35) is a high-minded take on a decidedly low brow imbiber's pasttime. Using a compound of calcium chloride and sodium alginate (a naturally occurring substance derived from brown algae), the sake is encapsulated within a thin film that bursts under light pressure. Just be careful when you drink it.
Most people don't think of sake when considering what to drink with dessert, but Nicole Bermensolo and Michael Berl, owners of Kyotofu in NYC, make a strong argument for trying it out. Since 2006, the soy based dessert bar in Hell's Kitchen has paired artisanal sakes with desserts for a surprising and unique flavor experience. Of course, not every sake will work with every dessert—here are some guidelines and recommendations to get you started.
I've just come back from a week in Spain, eating the best seafood I've ever had in my life. Briny barnacles, giant, creamy Galician oysters, slipper lobsters, razor clams, impossibly fresh sardines—up until this point I always thought Tokyo's Tsukiji market was unparalleled in freshness and variety, but Spain showed me a completely different way to enjoy seafood. And as good as the Spanish wine pairings were, I found my mind drifting to sake, and thinking of the perfect sake for each dish. Here are some basic guidelines for finding the best sake to drink with seafood.
Sake comes from Japan, right? Not always. Greg Lorenz, brewmaster of Momokawa brewery in Oregon, is on a mission to open people's minds about American-brewed sake. I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about how a non-Japanese speaker became a premium sake brewer, what challenges he faces brewing sake in Oregon, and the future of the sake industry in the US.
Easy-drinking Ginjo sakes have expressive floral and fruity aromas; they're smooth and well-balanced. While the ginjo category offers wonderful sakes, for a special occasion nothing quite compares to the elegance of Daiginjo. We'll discuss both today.
In honor of Mr. Niizawa, the sake brewer at Niizawa Shuzo, and many others who are trying to get back on their feet in Japan, I'd like to take a break from Sake School today and offer instead a list of food and drink events around the country that are raising money for relief in Japan.
Within the world of premium sake, any labels that do not explicitly state "junmai" on them can be assumed "honjozo." Honjozo is sake that has a small amount of brewer's alcohol added to the fermenting sake mash. That doesn't mean it's sweet, and it also doesn't mean that is has a higher alcohol level than junmai.
All premium sakes fall into one of two categories: junmai-shu, which is sake made from only rice, water, yeast, and koji; and honjozo-shu, which is sake that has a small amount of distilled alcohol added.
In December 2007, Rick Smith and Hiroko Furukawa opened what is to this day the East Coast's only store dedicated entirely to sake. But they weren't always sake's biggest fans.
There's a lot going on in each sip of sake—all you have to do is pay attention. Here are a few basic tips to take the intimidation factor out of your sake explorations.
The strain of yeast that a brewer selects—as well as the way the fermentation is carried out—has a direct affect on the sake's aroma and flavor. Knowing a little about yeast can help you pick out flavors in sake, and guide you toward discovering which types of sake suit your palate best.
There's no appellation system with sake, so ingredients are not legally required to come from the prefecture where the sake is made. But for practical reasons, the water in sake is mostly sourced from local wells. The stability of well water is prized for creating consistency in sake brewing. Where great water sources are abundant, you'll find more sake breweries.