We now have some details of the next pairing dinner. It will be on May 11th, starting at 8pm - We are continuing with the single sake brewery series, this time the focus is Yoshinogawa Brewery with some 460 years of history, from Niigata which is a snowy region well known for its sake and rice.
$60 including the sake (but tax and gratuity is not) - It is not only a wonderful deal but also a real fun experience! If you have friends, great! But fear not even if you cannot find anybody to come with you - we will pair you with some friendly guests at the communal table - Food, sake, new encounter!! What more could we ask for? Well, more would be that the brewery is going to be present at the dinner so you will have the opportunity to interact with the sake-maker.
As usual, it is going to be a reservation and prepayment required event - Please contact us to reserve your seats, and the sooner the better, seats are limited... Thanks!
Now, to some details of the dinner, or what is known so far of it... * Amuse-bouche is TBD, but to be paired with Yoshinogawa Daiginjo * Appetizer: Bonito salad paired with Echigo Junmai * Entree #1: Grilled rack of lamb paired with Yoshinogawa Gensen Karakuchi * A little soup... * Entree #2: Sushi nigiri, paired with Yoshinogawa Gokujo Ginjo * Dessert: TBD, but to be paired with Yoshinogawa Ginjo.
April's pairing dinner was conducted last Wednesday with Tama No Hikari Brewery's sake as its theme. This Kyoto brewery sticks to making Junmai type of sake.
Amuse bouche: Kampachi carpaccio with broccolini ohitashi, mentaiko and yuzusko --- paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Ginjo Mizore sake.
Mizore means a mixture of snow and rain - "slush" would be what it wants to say here. The story is that there was an event held at a tea house in Kyoto, and as there were not enough cold sake, they put it in the freezer (which is normally a taboo), an action that made the sake much too cold, however it was good. So they decided to market it as such. The cold temperature gives the sake a little bitterness at the end, which is here echoed in the broccolini's bitterness.
Appetizer: Seared scallop with pine nut vinaigrette --- paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Ginjo (served cold).
This is the same sake as the first one, but served in a different temperature. It is overall smooth and dry, which balances out well with the sweetness of the scallop. The nutty flavor from the pine nut also echoes well with the umami in this sake of this temperature.
Assorted Sushi Rolls: Spicy tuna topped with sea urchin, grilled salmon topped with salmon roe, hamachi mango topped with wasabi tobiko, sweet potato tempura topped with broom seeds (tonburi) --- paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Daiginjo.
This sake has a sturdy body with a good amount of floral notes and a slight sweetness of rice. The richness of the roes makes a good companion to its floral aroma and sweetness.
Entree: Squab - grilled breast, leg confit, liver & gizzard pate, on top of buckwheat rice, pumpkin and cabbage dressed with the jus from the squab --- paired with Tama No Hikari Yamahai Junmai Ginjo (served warm).
This is a big challenge, as we are not accustomed to eating squab in Japan.
The strength of the Yamahai, its smoky aroma and earthy flavor pairs very well with the mild but gamey taste of the squab. This sake was served warm, which causes it to lose some sharpness but instead gaining more aroma, its earthyness amplified, along with some spicy accent at the end, all of which enveloped beautifully the squab meat.
Dessert: Kinako (Soybean flour) macaron with carrot jam + green tea madeleine --- with Yamahai Junmai Ginjo (served cold).
Served cold, the same sake is now sharp, clean, crisp and very well balanced (Personally, I may prefer this sake served cold...).
The next pairing dinner is planned to be on May 11th - more details to come soon!
Sushi is not all about the fish. Rice is also a very important component.
You may go to different sushi restaurants and notice the difference of rice at each place. Each one of us have different tastes too, so it could be a fun thing to go around a few places to compare and find your own favourite sushi rice.
For our sushi rice, we mix couple of different kind of rice, couple of different vinegars, then salt and sugar.
It is important to cook the sushi rice in the minimum amount of water possible. This allows the rice to absorb the vinegar mixture afterwards - This is also to achieve a good texture and taste balance between the fish and the rice.
So normally, you use less water than when you cook white rice regularly.
This is a personal opinion, but I like Koshihikari for regular white rice, and Sasanishiki for sushi rice (less moisture).
Rice used for sake making is a different type (not so tasty to eat but oh so good for sake! How was this all figured out...?). Sake makers try to avoid the rice absorbing water, counting even seconds with a stop watch when washing the rice.
Back to the sushi rice - Sushi rice cooked in the minimum water possible requires some techniques to handle. If you are going to make sushi rolls at home for a party with friends, it may be easier to make those rolls with rice cooked normally. Well, it's a long road to become a sushi master...
Parrot Fish from Nagasaki. Red Ruby Fish (this is not ruby snapper)/Hachibiki from Nagasaki.
We had never seen this fish before, not even our sushi chef who is from this region. Before cleaning the fish, nobody expected red meat. Red, but with much more transparency than tuna. It has a good amount of fat and Umami, but not so much of iron like flavor as in tuna or the usual red fish.
The smaller ones beneath are Kohada from Kumamoto, Japan.
Kohada is often the signature item to check out in a Tokyo style sushi restaurant in Japan. The sushi chef prides oneself for the way he serves the kohada with his own recipe. They marinate it in salt and vinegar, but depending on the season, the size of the fish and its fat content, they change the recipe and time of marination. It's a subtle thing.
Back in the time before refrigerated transportation system was available, all fish had some work done for its preservation. Despite all the changes in the transportation possibility, there are still items served the old fashion way - simply because they are really tasty this way. Next time you have the chance, imagine yourself back in time when you try our kohada, zuke, nihamaguri, fluke kobujime and sea-eel.
Next week on Wednesday April 21st @ 8pm is April's pairing dinner.
This time around, the theme will be sake made by a brewery in Kyoto, Tama No Hikari Shuzo.
The brewery will be present at the dinner to introduce each different sake being served - Which means it is also an opportunity to talk directly with the maker of the sake while you are tasting it - and moreover, to have paired dishes meant to elevate the experience with the particular sake. What more could we hope for?
The dinner including the sake is only $55! (tax and gratuity is not included). Reservation and prepayment is necessary to attend this dinner, so please contact us if you are interested.
Here is a peek at the menu.
Amuse-bouche / Kanpachi carpaccio paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Ginjo mizore sake
Appetizer / Seared scallop with pine nut vinaigrette paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai
Assorted sushi rolls / Spicy tuna topped with sea urchin, grilled salmon topped with salmon roe, hamachi mango topped with wasabi tobiko, sweet potato tempura topped with broom seeds - paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Daiginjo
Entree / Grilled squab with buckwheat rice paired with Tama No Hikari Yamahai Junmai (served warm)
Dessert / Macaron with carrot jam, sake to be paired with is TBA
We plan on hosting pairing dinners monthly, but each time, the theme will be different. Either a different brewery, a different region, not only sake but it could be wine, it could be a paritcular ingredient.... The possibility is endless, but it will never be the same!
In case you wonder if sake with cheese could really go together, how would you imagine truffles with sake? You will be surprised.
Cana de Oveja with Masumi-Arabashiri.
The sharpness of sheep cheese is here paired with the subtle sweetness, freshness and tropical fruits note of Arabashiri.
Rocbleu with Kakurei-Plum Sake work well together too. But this is a bit classic. I think that blue with unfiltered sake work well in general too, but have not found any other sake making good friends with blue yet. If anybody has a suggestion, please let me know -