As has been the case for the past 3 years, Le Cordon Bleu Paris has once again given a seminar on pairing food and sake from the province of Hiroshima in the presence of sake specialist, Sylvain Huet, and the Institute’s Wine Department Manager, Franck Ramage.
This seminar aims to provide participants with an introduction to sake, with a particular focus on Hiroshima sake.
On Tuesday 22 November 2016, Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts students had the opportunity to taste 9 sakes from Hiroshima paired with 9 dishes, created and prepared by Chefs Eric Briffard, One of the Best Craftsmen in France (Meilleur Ouvrier de France - MOF), and Alexandra Didier.
The participants had the chance to taste the following pairings:
Where does Japanese sake come from?
In general, Saijo in Hiroshima, Nada in Hyogo, Fushimi in Kyoto are considered the 3 best known brewing locations in Japan. This relates to their high concentration of breweries around abundant high quality water, amongst other factors including rice, climate and logistics. These regions have all played an important historical role in the development of sake.
Sake is however produced all over Japan, from the most northern prefecture of Hokkaido to the most southern prefecture of Okinawa.
How should food and sake be paired?
Complex, highly aromatic sakes such as daiginjos can often be enjoyed as an aperitif, while koshu, which has some earthiness or aged aroma, can make a good after dinner drink. However, sake has always been associated with food. As a matter of fact, its chemical composition (amino acids such as glutamic acid, succinic acid and many other organic acids), absence of tannin and lower acidity than wine make it more versatile and easier to associate not only with Japanese food, but to Western flavours as well. Sake is much less overbearing than wine, and in particular red wine, and is renowned for enhancing the umami in food.
Sake and Japanese Cuisine
Why sake works well with Japanese cuisine:
- Sake contrasts well with salty food : the saltier the food, the dryer the sake
- Sake complements fermented foods; koji kin and yeast are used in a number of Japanese cooking bases
- Sake is often used in recipes for cooking
- Sake eliminates the fishy flavors in raw fish, fish eggs or shellfish
Sake and Western Cuisine
Some basic guidelines for pairing sake with Western food:
- Generally, sake goes well with umami-rich-ingredients such as cheese, smoked ham or tomatoes
- Aromatic sakes such as ginjo and daiginjo with less aromatic dishes
- Sake with crisp acidity with oily dishes
- Full bodied, rich sake with rich food and lighter body sake with lighter food
- Dry sake with fish egg or shellfish