Enjoying Sake and Tastes of Fall
2021-09-15

By Yuji Matsumoto

In these modern days, we’re feeling less seasonality – but Japanese food has always focused on enjoying the four seasons. Indeed, vegetables, fruit and fish are at their best in fall to satisfy the so-called “autumn appetite.” Let’s go back to what Japanese food is about; here are some tips on some “tsumami” (small dishes to be enjoyed with alcoholic beverages) perfect for this season.

Vegetables
Mushrooms are a must for fall. When cooking fall mushrooms, avoid rinsing with water and heating for a long time, and cook quickly to keep their fragrance and texture. They are great grilled or sautéed alone, but shiitake, which contain guanylic acid, considered one of the three great umami generators, greatly increases its umami when cooked with glutamic acid of konbu, so cook them together as suimono (clear broth) or dobin-mushi (steam-boiled vegetables/meat in earthenware pot). In this case, pair the dish with a fragrant Junmai Ginjo.

Fish
Tuna, bonito, salmon, barracuda, the various mackerels, saury, yellowtail, and snapper are some of the notable fish that are excellent at this time of the year. If making nigiri, lightly broil to bring out the sweetness in the fish immediately before making them into sushi that is heavenly when paired with sake. And don’t forget the condiments. Use ginger, scallions, garlic, yuzu, Japanese pepper, and grated daikon radish to accentuate the main ingredients’ flavors.
For sake pairings, Junmai Daiginjo and Ginjo go well with white-fleshed fish, and Kimoto and Yamahai for fattier fish. For nitsuke (fish boiled with soy sauce mixture), sweeter Junmai go well.





日本酒と秋の旬を楽しむ

確かに四季感の薄れている現代だが、やはり日本食の特徴と言えば四季感があること。特に秋には野菜や果物、魚が一段と美味しくなり、まさに“食欲の秋”をむかえる。日本食の原点に戻り、新鮮な素材の持ち味を生かした日本酒のつまみを検討してみてはどうだろう。

野菜
なんと言ってもキノコはこの時期外せない素材。特に秋のキノコを調理する時に注意したいのが長時間の過熱や水洗いは避け、香りと食感を残すように短時間で調理すること。もちろん、キノコ類は単独でも焼き物、ソテーなどにしても美味しいが、3大旨み成分の一つ、グアニル酸を含むシイタケは昆布の持つグルタミン酸と混ざると相乗的に旨みが増強されるので、吸い物や土瓶蒸にも活用したい。この際の日本酒は香りのある純米吟醸の酒を勧める。


マグロ、カツオ、サーモン、カマス、サバ、アジ、サンマ、サワラ、ハマチ、タイと代表的な魚はどれも美味しい。
握りスシの場合、若干炙りを入れると魚の甘みがでて美味しくなるので握る直前にバーナーで焼きを入れ握るなどすると日本酒と良く合う。あとは薬味。ショウガ、ネギ、ニンニク、ユズ、サンショウ、大根おろしなど食材に合わせ工夫すると一層風味が増し美味しく味わえる。白身系の魚には純米大吟醸か吟醸を、そして脂分の多い魚はキモト、山廃系の純米酒をあててみたい。また、煮付けなどには少々甘いかなと思うくらいの純米酒が合う。


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