Seafood and Sake – Escape the Ordinary

Thinking about what to pair with a seafood meal? Of course a plethora of wines come to mind. From Champagne to Riesling to Gruner Veltliner to Sancerre to Chablis to Vermentino to Albarino, the list of white wines that pair beautifully with seafood is endless. But think outside of the box. What about pairing seafood with sake?

Sake is a natural pairing for sushi and sashimi but thanks to JFoodo, a Japanese Government Organization committed to promoting Japanese goods, I had the opportunity to see how versatile sake is and how well it pairs with flavors outside of Japanese cuisine.

Like wine, sake is terroir-driven. The weather, soil, water and topography of where sake is made will influence the final product. To showcase the diversity of flavors and how well they pair with seafood, restaurateur Nancy Cushman of O Ya in Boston curated a selection of sake to pair with a menu prepared by chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.

The sakes ranged in style, region and method of production. We started the evening with the Mio Sparkling sake from Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura Brewery in Nada Prefecture.

Yellowfin Tuna with leche de tigre, avocado and tortilla paired with Dewazakura Dewasansan Junmai Ginjo – The sake with its floral and peach aromas and light body was an elegant choice for the Peruvian inspired tuna and the brightness of the sake cut through the rich avocado.

“Son of a Gun” Gem Caesar Salad paired with Kasumi Tsuru Kimoto Extra Dry – The sake has a smoky and nutty nose but on the palate it was crisp and clean to cut through the Baja-California inspired rich salad and prepare you for the next bite.

Trout Amandine, rice, snap peas, lemon brown butter and dill paired with Tentaka Kuni Junmai “Hawk in the Heavens” – A French-inspired dish, the rich brown butter and nutty flavors of the fish were enhanced by the rounder flavors of this sake.

Frozen Lime Yogurt with graham crumble and toasted meringue paired with Shirakawago Sparkling Nigori – The tart dessert was matched with the light, refreshing unfiltered sparkling sake that had coconut and tropical notes.

By pairing sake with dishes influenced by American, French and Peruvian flavors, we eschewed pairings typically associated with sake. Pairing the unami flavors in the sake with a range of dishes made for a sensory experience that escaped the ordinary.