Sake Reminder - Grill Master Where's Your Brew?
The conversation was about a killer party she had at her house the other day - one of those great sunny afternoon backyard grill fests. "My husband's friends are fishermen and meat lovers, so we fired up the Weber and ate grilled everything all day and night." I said that it sounded awesome and followed that with the dagger, "What sakes did you pour?"
I watched her face contort in both regret and shame, which was followed by the trailing "Noooooooo!" "We blew it. We forgot the sake! Oh, I am so embarrassed! I just forgot." Basically I would never type "shame" but she is a super sake slut and that's what I saw on her expression - almost hurt!
Alas she is not alone. There is such a disconnect - still - of those who love sake and have a fondness for grilling. Why? I dunno. Maybe it's the grill and beer relationship - Maybe it is the grill and wine image. Nevertheless, often after I am told of great summer afternoon grilling gigs I get the same "Oh we forgot the sake!"
Herewith are my Top Ten Reminders why sake and grills go together like Hollywood and rehab:
- 1) Junmai and Honjozo brews were born to dance with fowl and meat juices in your pallet - they act both as a wash and a flavor enhancer and as they are less pricey you can focus your budget on better quality grillin' fare.
- 2)Yamahai and many Kimoto efforts embrace grilled vegetables as higher acidity levels work with the veggies to create herbaceous and "vegginess" pairing that most wine and beer cannot hit!
- 3) Nigori or unfiltered cloudy sakes have a sweetness and "smothering effect" that go right at the heart of spicy grilled fare and of course grilled peppers!
- 4) Ginjo and Daiginjo sakes are clean and pristine enough to pair wonderfully with that super clean white fish that is right off the line.
- 5) Kimoto Ginjo and Daiginjo brews have a creaminess balanced with a gentle fruitiness that excel with grilled oysters if you want to pull that briny flavor or enhance that sweetness.
- 6) Full-bodied Ginjo and Daiginjo (with a touch of sweetness and perhaps genshu) sakes and grilled lobsters are one of those amazing moments in life.
- 7) All sakes play the temperature game - if you want them to be refreshing with your cuisine then keep it chilled - if you want to meet the heated temperature of the food then pair at room temp - and when the sun goes down and the slight chill comes out in the night air then warm you sakes - right on the grill and enjoy heated flavors with bigger cuts of meats, beans, and your favorite sausages.
- 8) Sparkling sakes have a place around the grill too - their sweetness and brightness bounce very well with grilled shrimp and scallops and don't forget grilled fruit such as pineapple.
- 9) Koshu (aged sakes) are the perfect pairing friend for game and wild meats. The deep richness of these brews stand up to all of the wonderfully strange gamey characteristics of the meats from wild boar to deer.
- 10) Dry Junmai brews work well with all of the grilling accompaniments like buns, chips and potatoes.