Sep 30, 2010

Attraction of Taruzake (Casked Sake)

Recently, I checked old video data I took before, and found footage of kagami-biraki (ceremonial way making a toast with sake). Since I thought this can be a good movie, I edited the data and uploaded it to the Youtube site.

The movie I presents in this post was taken when we had a Christmas party for kimono lovers in 2008. A generous sales person from OZEKI Co. Ltd. (famous and big sake brewery in Japan) kindly prepared a big cask of sake for us, and we could have this wonderful experience.

The Japanese often celebrate happy events with kagami-biraki. In kagami-biraki, a wooden cask filled with sake is prepared. People crack open this cask and then make a toast with the sake.

A cask for kagami-biraki is usually filled with inexpensive regular sake, and regular sake is in many cases light and quaffable. Actually, I do not easily become tired of drinking regular sake. So, although I usually like rich and bold sake like muroka nama genshu or full-bodied sake such as yamahai, I sometimes feel inclined to drink regular sake.

Since the cask is made of cedar, the sake takes scent of cedar in the cask. Magic of cedar scent turns the cheap sake into something completely different.

Regular sake drunk as casked sake is fresh, flinty, and crispy, and gives you briskness. This is due to the scent of cedar that the sake takes while it is prepared in the cask.

Oh, after watching my video, I became to deliriously crave casked sake.

Sep 24, 2010

No 720-ml bottle, but a 1800-ml bottle

If you visit a liquor shop in Japan, you will find various sake bottles being sold there. And if you a great sake lover, you may want to buy as many bottles as possible so as to try as many types of sake as possible. In my case, I usually prefer 720-ml bottles to 1800-ml bottle to buy because smaller bottles allow you to buy many types of sake at lower cost and you don't need to continue to drink very much of the sake of one bottle before moving on to another bottle.

On the premises of Ishikawa Brewery, which is making Tamajiman sake, the company is operating the sake shop "Sake Cellar" (酒世羅). I often see bottles of Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu "Koryu" (紅龍) are displayed on a shelf in the refrigerator at the shop. And every time I see these bottles, I want to buy one, but this sake is sold only in 1800-ml bottles. So, I have been somewhat hesitant about buying the sake.

This summer, I found this sake was served in an izakaya in Tachikawa city, so I ordered a glass of this sake. This sake gave me a bold impression and I liked it.

So, recently I drove my car to the brewery and bought a 1800-ml bottle of this sake at the sake shop there. I had probably been thinking of this sake for more than a year, and finally I bought it.

Having been made from 50% polished Gohyakumangoku sake rice, this junmai ginjo sake was sweetish with a clear taste. Although I felt the sake was still young in its taste, I expect time will add to the good taste.

Sep 9, 2010

Season of Hiyaoroshi

Hiyaoroshi or namazumeshu is a certain type of sake. Usually, sake is pasteurized twice before it is shipped. The first pasteurization of sake is performed after the sake is pressed and before it enters the aging process, and then the second pasteurization comes when the sake is bottled. However, for hiyaoroshi sake, the second pasteurization process never occurs, it is shipped after the aging period of half a year or so without undergoing the second-time pasteurization. Thus, hiyaoroshi sake acquires mellowness through the aging process while maintaining a flavor of namazake.

Around September 5, I received a notice informing of hiyaoroshi sake being sold or to be sold soon from the liquor shop where I often buy sake. A flier I received showed hiyaoroshi sake from breweries in the Nishitama area. According to flier, Sawanoi, Kasen, and Chiyozuru are shipping hiyaoroshi, while Tamajiman is selling Daiginjo Muroka Genshu Aki no Yorokobi.

This summer saw excruciatingly sizzling days but autumn is steadily approaching; cicadas are no longer chirp, while autumn grasshoppers and crickets are getting louder. Hiyaoroshi is the sake that tells you the coming of autumn. I made a phone call to this liquor shop and ordered some bottles of hiyaoroshi.

At another liquor shop, they are also selling hiyaoroshi sake that comes from various places in Japan. In the refrigerator of the shop are Ichinokura, Urakasumi, Mine-no-Hakubai, Harushika, etc. I bought Harushika Junmai Ginjo Namazume and Kamikokoro Umakuchi Hiyaoroshi at this shop.

I had a try of Harushika first. Gulp, gulp, .... It was very nice sake. Hiyaoroshi is a taste of autumn.

Within a few days, the liquor to which I called will deliver the hiyaoroshi bottles I ordered. As it will become cooler and sake will become tastier.

Sep 7, 2010

Vinegared Rice with Okutama Yamame (Mountain Trout)

The Japanese food restaurant named "Imoutoya" stands on the Tama River, on the side opposite to JR Mitake Station on Ome Line.

"Okutama Yamame no Chirashizushi" they serve at this restaurant includes sliced raw yamame (mountain trout), but this yamame, (Okutama Yamame) is not of an ordinary type.

According to the Web site of Okutama Fish Breeding Center of Tokyo, Okutama Yamame is "triploid female yamame that has been bred by using biotechnology. This fish never reaches maturity and grows over 2 Kg in weight in three years. It is well suited for cuisine such as sashimi and meunière, which are usually made using meat of rather a big fish." In other words, these fish do not spawn, and they grow larger and taste better than common yamame.

Recently, I ordered Okutama Yamame no Chirashizushi at this restaurant for lunch.

The fish meat is different from common yamame in appearance, looking somewhat pinkish like salmon.

Topped with young Welsh onion, green shiso, myoga, and other herbs, firm sliced raw fish tasted nice.

And sake! They serve Sawanoi sake tasting set "Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu (起承転結)" including four different types of sake.

Ki 起: Junmai Namazake Sawane. Fresh sake with low alcohol and slightly higher acidity
Sho 承: Honjozo Nama. Sake with a typical taste. Moderate alcohol gives this sake a flinty impression.
Ten 転: Soten, junmai ginjo sake, with rich body.
Ketsu 結: Daiginjo. Nice aroma and flinty taste.