Recapping Kani-Sake Night
Many readers who cannot make certain True Sake tasting events always ask if I could offer a summary of the occasion. It would be my honor to do so for the most amazing crab pairing that I have ever been involved with. On November 16, fifteen lucky folks went to Toraya Restaurant in Japan Town (not the Fillmore location) and were witness to crab served 9 different ways paired with sake. Chef Scott Kudo and his wife Motomi and daughter Mina produced flavors that I have never tasted before. It was truly an amazing pairing and Scott has committed to doing it again next year when Kani season opens.
Herewith is the menu with the pairings in brief:
Welcome Sake – Hoyo Manamusume "Farmer's Daughter" From Miyagi. (I selected this sake to start rather than a Dai Ginjo because I wanted people to have a solid base with a nice acidity balance)
First Course – Crab Sunomono "crab and seaweed in a sweet vinegar." Paired with Otokoyama Fukkoshu "Man's Mountain" From Hokkaido. (I selected this sake because it is a genshu with a very high acidity level. It is also quite deep and richly sweet. This was voted one of the top pairings of the evening as the sweetness and acidity popped with the vinegar)
Second Course – Fresh boiled crab from Japan and the US with a ginger ponzu. Paired with Mukune "Root of Innocence" from Osaka Prefecture. (I selected this sake because I wanted the gentle sweetness of Mukune to dance with the natural sweetness of the crab, and the higher acidity level worked well with the ginger ponzu.)
Third Course – Kani miso "fresh crab guts." Paired with Juyundai "14th Generation" from Yamagata Prefecture. (I selected this Koshu – aged – Junmai to meet the large flavor of the guts, and I wanted the higher acidity to pair well with the richness of the crab essence. This was my favorite pairing of the night)
Fourth Course – Crab sushi and sashimi. Paired with Mineno Hakubai "White Plum Blossom" from Niigata. (I selected this sake to pair with the sushi because I like the flavor created by this single pasteurized Ginjo with rice. There is a flintiness that really cooks with richness of the crab and the rice.)
Fifth Course – Crab Croquettes "Fried crab and potato balls with a sweet miso sauce." Paired with Gokyo "Five Bridges" from Yamaguchi Prefecture. (I selected this Junmai as it has "that" Junmai flavor that goes so well with fried foods and also has a deep a rich sweetness that worked really well with the miso sauce.)
Sixth Course – Kani Chowamushi "fresh crab custard served in the crab shell" Paired with Meibo Yowano Tsuki "Midnight Moon" From Aichi Prefecture. (I selected this sake because "MM" has a hidden layer of sweetness in a pretty dry sake that worked extremely well with natural sweetness of the eggs and crab and yet was dry to play with the savoriness.)
Seventh Course – Kani Sawagari "tempura min crabs" Paired with Kikusakari Asamurasaki "Red Rice" from Ibaraki Prefecture. (I picked this sake because it is weird just like eating small crabs whole, and for other reasons such as a meaty/earthy sweetness that went very well with the tempura crunch.)
Eighth Course – Kani Zosui "Crab in a rice porridge" Paired with Narutotai Hiyaoroshi "Autumn Draft" from Tokushima Prefecture. (I paired this sake with the porridge because I served it Nuru-kan (lightly warmed) and the deep "hammerhead" flavors came out swinging against the largely rice based concoction. This was my second favorite pairing of the evening.)
Ninth Course – Kani-zake "hot sake served in a crab shell." Paired with Otokoyama "Man's Mountain" from Hokkaido. (This was the dish that Scott spoke to me about several months back that gave me the idea for kani-sake night. We paired this dish with the dryness of the sake in hopes that the crab remains would dance with the hot dryness of the Tokubetsu Junmai. And it did!)
My mouth was watering as I wrote this remembering all those killer flavors, and how each one had a purpose that was paired to highlight that purpose. If we offer this event next year, a word to the wise, book it immediately. And if you are looking for a quite little sushi shack with a great family who really look after you then pop by Toraya in Japan Town and tell Scott that True Sake sent you!