(I don’t drink sake, but I do love mixing it with what Courtney describes below as the “trinity of ingredients” for my dishes. Read on for some good ideas!)
You’re probably thinking sake, or Japanese rice wine, is a really odd selection for a traditional Japanese food segment but sake is used to create many of the basic marinades and glazes for dishes.
Sake is made of rice and water that is fermented. While many refer to it as a wine, the process of making sake is actually more similar to beer brewing. Similar to cooking with wines, sake is used to bring out the flavors in the ingredients as well as intensify flavors.
Selecting sake for cooking is similar to choosing wines. Overall, it is best not to use a sake for a dish that you wouldn’t drink on its own. Now being in Japan, you can surprisingly get cheap yet good sake at the local convenience stores. In America or abroad, it would be advised to seek out a moderate sake for cooking. It does not need to a super expensive sake (save that for drinking) but a decent quality sake.
Many times you will find sake mixed with what I call the Japanese trinity of ingredients for marinades: sake, mirin and soy sauce. These three ingredients highlight each other and form a wonderful glaze and char to dishes.
1 cup sake
1 cup mirin
1 cup soy sauce
¼ cup sugar (or as desired)
Combine all ingredients in sauce pan. Bring to a boil then turn off and set aside to cool.
Serve with all your favorite ingredients for sukiyaki such as thinly sliced beef, vegetables, noodles, and tofu. For inspiration, check out Just One Cookbook’s recipe for sukiyaki.
Strawberry Amazake ice cream from Whole Food Cooking
While not truly sake, amazake makes a wonderfully smooth ice cream. I love the addition of fruit to this recipe. Amazake is the fermented leftovers of sake that is traditionally warmed and served during the new years holiday at temples and shrines.
Kinpira Gobo (Braised Burdock) from Harumi
While this is more of a winter dish due to gobo (burdock), the use of sake adds good flavor to the dish.
Sake Ginger Glazed Salmon from Simply Recipes
Super easy recipe that is absolutely delicious. We love cooking up some salmon with white sticky rice, sautéed greens, and cabbage salad for an easy mid-week dinner.