I told you that I love Sake before and I am even certified as a Sake Sommelier too. I’m a bit concerned that if I say so it might sound like I drink a lot of Sake everyday😆. On the contrary I have it only on a very special occasion. In that way I think I can appreciate the special taste more. Anyway, Sake is the Japanese Rice Wine and becoming very popular in the world. It has started being brewed outside of Japan lately and I have recently met British people who have their own ‘Sakagura’ (Sake brewery) in London. It was so unthinkable until very recent that I see Sake made in the UK with my own eyes.
So, this week was one of those special occasions that I had Sake. I went to one of Sakaguras in London, however, this one is not a Sake brewery. It was a Japanese restaurant which has a huge selection of Sake to serve. The occasion was for attending ‘Sake Experience’ event which was organised by Japan Centre. It was designed for Sake lovers to discover new great Sake or for people who don’t know much about Sake but want to try something new. It is also the occasion to suggest people how to match what kind of Food with different kind of Sake.
At each table, people were greeted with a glass of Sake cocktail. It was a Sake & Gin cocktail with Pineapple Juice with a hint of Yuzu (Japanese citrus). It was very smooth and tasty. It was a great start.
Soon after the first Sake was introduced to our glasses and the event commenced. The person explaining all about that evening’s Sake was Atsuhide Kato, the CEO of Kato Kichibee Shoten Brewery in Japan. He brought the best selections from their brand “Born” series.
There are several types of alcohol in Japan. Two most well-known ones are ‘Sake’ (Rice Wine) and ‘Shochu’ (Spirit made from materials such as rice, wheat or sweet potatoes). We also have some liquors and the most popular one is ‘Umeshu’ Plum Liquor. I like Umeshu. Although it is an alcoholic drink I have been familiar with it since I was a child. My mother used to make it at home with fresh ‘Ume’ plums. It is very refreshing having it on the rock, neat Umeshu with some ice cubes especially after having a bath in summer. You wait a little until the ice starts melting and dilutes the Umeshu a little then you drink it. Aaaaaah, so heavenly.
Recently I had a chance to attend an ‘Umeshu’ seminar. I loved to find out more about my favourite drink.
The seminar was held at Shoryu Ramen restaurant in Piccadilly Circus, London. It was hosted by Japan Centre and Choya, the biggest Umeshu company in Japan.
The lecturer was Mr. Suzuki from Choya who had just landed in London on the same day. It was great that he incorporated a quiz into the seminar. He explained some facts regarding the Umeshu and gave us questions.
Last year I entered to a Sake recipe competition for which I had to create two Non-Japanese food recipes, one savoury and the other a dessert. To my surprise I went through to the final that was held in London in January. More surprisingly I won second place among 6 finalists. I have posted about this event and what happened to me on that day.
At the end of that event I was given some vouchers. That was great but that was not the main prize. The prize for the second place was “Two Days Certified Sake Sommelier Course” by the Sake Sommelier Academy. Although there are more and more people interested in Japanese alcohol ‘Sake’, the course runs only 2-3 times a year. So I had to wait to attend the course until the next one would be held in London and that was last week. So finally my waiting was over!
Two Days “Certified Sake Sommelier” Course
Selection of Sake
In the evening of ‘Hinamatsuri‘ (Girls’ Day, the 3rd of March) I attended the Sake Tasting seminar which was organised by Japan Centre. The venue was the popular Ramen restaurant Shoryu near Piccadilly Circus in London. Although it was early evening on Thursday the Ramen shop was packed with Ramen lovers. As soon as we arrived in a private Dining Room downstairs we were welcomed with a glass of chilled sake 🍶. Lovely 💓
Rosy Sake Jelly with Raspberry Sauce
This is the sweet dish I made for the Sake Cooking competition. The theme of my dishes for the competition was ‘Sake for Eating’. This dessert was a food but I wanted to put some reminder that Sake is alcoholic ‘Drink’. That is why I wanted to use a wine glass for serving this dessert.
My thoughts behind this dish were
1. I wanted to keep all the flavour and taste of Sake in my dessert without losing any by heating Sake. That is the reason I decided to make Jelly.
2. I like flavour of Sake, however, I wanted something ‘more than just Sake’. I infused Sake with Rose Petals in order to enhance the delicate Sake flavour. The consequence of that made the Jelly has fragrant Rose smell and also slightly Rosy pink colour. I managed to infuse Sake in both flavour and colour.
3. It has been changing in recent years but Sake still has the image as it is the drink for men more than for women. I wanted to create something which suggests that Sake could be something romantic.
Rosy Sake Jelly with Raspberry Sauce
‘Sake Souffle Quiche with Fig & Pine Puts’ and ‘Rosy Sake Jelly with Raspberry Sauce’
As I announced in my previous post I received the second prize in Gekkeikan Masters Cooking Competition. I had to develop two dishes, one in savoury and one in sweet, by using ‘Sake‘ (Japanese Rice Wine) which should not be a Japanese dish. This is the photo of my dishes at the competition venue.
My savoury dish was Sake Soufflé Quiche with Fig & Pine Nuts and the dessert dish was Rosy Sake Jelly with Raspberry Sauce. I was originally developing this Soufflé Quiche for making it in one bigger tin and then cut into smaller size for 2 to 4 people.
My Sake Souffle Quiche in a bigger size
However, during the process in the competition the situation had changed and I had to adjust the recipe for using smaller tins. I had to use a small portable oven on the site so baking it in smaller tins was much quicker and also had less chance of burning the top and bottom so that it was a good move for me in the end.
Here is the recipe of my ‘Sake Soufflé Quiche with Fig & Pine Nuts‘ in a smaller size.
Sake Soufflé Quiche with Fig & Pine Nuts
Wow … what a day, what an experience.
It was three months ago, I saw this advertisement about Sake Recipe Competition.
‘Gekkeikan Masters Cooking Competition’
The notice must have been out there for a while but when I saw this poster it was just a week before the deadline. The applicant had to create two recipes, one in savoury and one in sweet by using Gekkeikan ‘Sake‘ (Japanese Rice Wine) which should not be a Japanese Dish. Developing two recipes in a week seemed rather hard but I tried anyway. Then right after New Year’s Day I received an email saying that I was shortlisted for the final! They said that six finalists were selected from over one hundred applicants. That sounded pretty impressive. 😀
However, I faced the first problem … The contestants had to cook the dishes in the final day and serve them to judges. I submitted a baked dish but there was no oven at the venue! I had to develop some other dishes which you didn’t need to use an oven. I had tried several dishes but was not happy with them. And then one week before the final day I was told that I could bring a small oven if I wanted. Great! So I decided to stick to my original idea but had to adjust the recipe a little for making it suitable for cooking in a small oven.
The final stage of the competition took place at Ichiryu Udon noodle restaurant last Sunday (the 24th January). But there was a bigger problem waiting ahead of me…
The 21st of September was ‘Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)’ this year in Japan. It was one of the National Holidays for showing our respect and care for elderly people.
Bento on ‘Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)’
We ordered some Bento from a well known restaurant for my mother on ‘Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)’. The Bento was particularly planned for elderly people with the idea of 1. Easy to eat 2. with good source of various nutrients and 3. of course it had to be good quality food. We made a clear soup called ‘O-suimono‘ to go with it.
The ingredients and decoration was made in an Autumn theme. The amount of food was just enough ‘Hara Hachibunme (腹八分目）’ (‘Hara’=stomach, ‘Hachibunme’=80%) for us. It means moderate eating up to 80 percent in stomach is the key for a healthy life.