Written by Chris Hughes
Venue: Kurand Sake Market Shibuya Branch
Duration: 3.5 hours
Theme: The Marriage of Sake & Miso / Dashi (stock)
On 28th February 2016, we held a special SET (Sake Exchange Tokyo) event together with the company KOUJIN at our Shibuya Branch.
This time we were very lucky to be joined by not only a sake brewery, but a producer of miso as well, both hailing from the aptly nicknamed “Bordeaux of Japan” (so-called because of the number of terroirs), famous for its wide-variety of local delicacies, I am of course talking about none other than… drum roll please… Niigata Prefecture.
Both sake and miso are made from the same type of koji mould (you might also refer to it as a fungus/microbe/bacilli, but not yeast; it is a different entity all together). Furthermore, the savoury flavours of both the beans used to make miso, and the sake are extremely similar which makes for a delicious combination that brings out the flavours of both. Additionally, by combining with some of the other signature delicacies of Japanese cuisine such as soy sauce, bonito flakes and kombu you can achieve an even more sublime marriage.
● Sake in a nutshell
● Rice & Rice Polishing
● Koji Mould
● Water for Brewing
● How sake is made (brief rundown)
● 4 Flavours of Sake (tasting map)
● Basics of miso
● The raw ingredients of miso
● Types of miso
● Tastes of miso
● Colour of miso
● Regionality of miso
● Miso & the Japanese diet
● Miso health benefits & nutritional value
Guest Speaker Mrs. Kawabata
Koujin was set up in January 2016 to protect the time-honoured traditional food culture of Japan for future generations, with a focus on the national micro-organism of Japan Koji. We hope to provide lots of different people, people from all over the world, with opportunities to experience the value of the real cuisine of Japan, the wishes of the craftsmen and artisans who for over thousands of years have continued to produce, to hand down and protect the traditional foods of Japan made with koji, the backbone of Japanese food culture.
Introducing Takarayama Brewery
Brewer Mr.Wakabayashi (on the left)
Takarayama Brewery is a small brewery that began life in 1885 as regional sake to Iwamuro Onsen,a well-known 300 year old inner parlour in Niigata. In the frozen lands of Echigo, with “harmony among people” as their motto, a team of three including the master cherish every single drop of the brewing process. In a little plot at the back of the brewery the staff grow the variety of sake rice that was developed in Niigata: Echigo Tanrei. From this year, master brewer Watanabe Keita who completed his training in a brewery outside the prefecture joins the team and takes over the reins from 78 year old master Mr. Aoyagi. A new wind is blowing at this brewery.
Introducing Minemura Jozo
I had to make notes to make sure I provided an accurate detailed interpretation for our non-Japanese speaking participants. I might be an expert on sake, but not on miso, well, having said that, I feel a bit like one after this event.
Guest Speaker: Mr.Onozuka
Established in 1905, in Niigata City, they have been making Echigo Miso ever since the company’s founding,but are also well known for their brand of pickles. The brewery runs regular tours where you can buy and even eat the miso.. Using the experience and skills that they have fostered over generations they also produce all kinds of stock and other fermented food flavourings. This is a company that is constantly striving to improve the flavour of their products, giving it a modern twist while protecting the tradition of Japan that is Japanese food culture.
Participants were taken through a guided tasting of 4 completely different sakes. Minemura Jozo prepared a selection of specially hand-crafted miso, stock and pickles to pair with each sake. Guidance about which sake paired with which miso was of course provided beforehand.
No workshop featuring miso would be worth its salt without a proper representation of all the different regional misos from all over Japan. Luckily, we had that covered also.
There was also some scrumptious dashi (stock) which was overflowing with umami (savoury goodness).
International Exchange Through Sake
With so many new faces this month’s event provided everyone with the perfect opportunity to make friends. Japanese speakers could meet English speakers and vica versa.
Chazuke to Finish
If this event report has tickled your taste buds, there are plenty more SETS were this came from.
I look forward to seeing you all there!!