The article focuses on Kubota Senju (ginjō) from Asahi Shuzō in Niigata Prefecture [not Asahi Shuzō, makers of Dassai, in Yamaguchi Prefecture], but obviously you can try pairing the side dishes with any similar sake.
The article describes Kubota Senju as part of Asahi Shuzo’s “everyday range” designed to drink with meals and enhance the qualities of food. It also has a special seasonal akiagari [秋上がり, “peaks in autumn”] release, on sale from 3 September 2020 for JPY 2,595 including tax for a 720 ml bottle. This year, the release is accompanied by a selection of simple side dish recipes that complement the sake perfectly.
The Kubota Senju akiagari label design has colour gradation reminiscent of the red leaves that symbolise autumn. The contents are a genshu [原酒, undiluted] version of Kubota Senju brewed over the previous winter, left to settle and mature over the summer and released as a limited edition in the autumn. Despite being pasteurised, it keeps the deep flavours of a just-pressed nama genshu [生原酒, unpasteurised and undiluted sake] which over time turn mellow and smooth. When drunk cool it has a short finish and gentle acidity, and when heated it changes character and develops a heavy mouthfeel and ample umami.
The special matching recipes were published in the brewery’s newsletter Kubotaya, and use classic autumn ingredients such as autumn aubergine and sweet potato. [Autumn aubergines are harvested from around end September to October, and are supposed to be softer and plumper than ones harvested earlier.] And here are two to try out!
Fried aubergine and camembert
Nothing goes better with sake than cheese! The aromas and flavours of this dish are permeated by the gentle notes of dashi stock and highlighted by the intensity and saltiness of the cheese, which when paired with the sake boosts its flavours and creates a moment of luxury.
- 2 aubergines
- 100 g Camembert cheese
- 6 okra
- Oil for frying
- Katakuriko (starch powder)
- Spring onion sliced into rounds
- Dashi mixture:
- 100 ml dashi
- 1 Tbsp mirin
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- Cut off the top of the aubergines and slice in half, then cut a grid pattern into the skin. Cut the Camembert into four pieces and dredge with the katakuriko. Cut the stem off the okra, boil in salted water for 1 minute, then plunge into cold water and cut in half.
- Put the dashi mixture ingredients in a bowl and mix.
- Take a small pan and fill to about 1 cm with oil, and heat to 170° Fry the aubergine until both sides are soft, then blot off oil. Fry the Camembert until browned all over, then blot off oil.
- Arrange the aubergine, cheese and okra in a bowl, pour over the dashi mixture and garnish with spring onion.
Minced lotus root and boiled turnip with daikon radish
Bring out the umami in seasonal lotus root! Crunchy minced lotus root contrasts with meltingly soft turnip in this sake side dish. Try it warm with the sake at room temperature, to experience the sake’s smooth mouthfeel!
- 150 g lotus root
- 150-200 g daikon radish
- 4 small turnips
- 60 g shimeji mushrooms
- 10 g mitsuba greens
- Katakuriko mixed with water
- Pork mixture:
- 150 g ground pork
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp katakuriko
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dashi mixture:
- 500 ml dashi
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp and mirin
- 1 tsp ground fresh ginger
- Peel the lotus root and mince. Cut off the leafy part of the turnips and wash with a clean scrubber. Cut the base off the shimeji and separate. Cut the mitsuba into 1-2 cm strips. Grate the daikon and remove some of its moisture.
- Put the lotus root and pork mixture ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
- Put the dashi mixture ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil. Form the lotus root and pork mixture into balls about 3-4 cm across and cook over a low heat for 3 minutes. Add the turnips and cover with a drop lid, and carry on cooking until the turnips are softened (about 15 minutes). Remove the solid ingredients and leave the liquid in the pan.
- Add the shimeji and mitsuba to the pan and bring to the boil. Add the katakuriko mixed with water to thicken the liquid.
- Pour the thickened liquid over the lotus root and pork balls and serve with the dried grated daikon.
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