Nigorizake: So Much More Variety than Meets the Eye

Greetings sake lovers!

One of the most popular types of sake at KURAND SAKE MARKET has got to be the opaque white styles. There are several different types but all of them are listed under one category: nigorizake.

In this article we take a look at the different types in more detail.

The Definition of Nigorizake

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First, what is nigorizake?.

In order for sake to legally be labelled as nihonshu or seishu (clear sake), the solids must be separated from the liquid which is done by filtering the mixture through a cloth mesh.

However, the law doesn’t say anything about filtering all the solids away. Breweries have simply found a loophole whereby, a mesh with bigger holes is used to allow some of the solids to pass through with the liquid—some breweries completely filter and then return some of the solids. The result is a cloudy sake that we lovingly call nigorizake. Nigorizake literally translates to muddy, but as this isn’t a particularly appealing title to bear, it is often named after its ‘cloudy’ appearance—cloudy sake.

Detailed information about filtration

Types of Nigorizake

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No sake experience would be complete without at least one nigorizake, but why not go the whole hog and try them all. At KURAND, that’s certainly possible as we stock various different types for your drinking pleasure.

Orizake

Ori is basically a sediment made up of koji, yeast, rice particles and anything else that is too fine for the filtration to remove it. Brewers remove it by returning the sake to the tank and simply letting gravity pull the sediment down to the bottom where it can be extracted. Fining agents can help speed the process up as they clump the sediment together making it heavy. Nigorisake which has been filtered like ordinary sake but sediment remains is called orizake. The orthodox way of enjoying this is to mix the clear part with the sediment by gently tilting the bottle sideways at 180 degrees once or twice (do not shake as the vibrations harm the sake). But, many aficionados will tell you the only way to enjoy it is to drink the cloudy part and the clear part separately, because by doing so, you get two different taste experiences.

Sasanigori

Sasanigori literally means “lightly clouded”, and sasanigori is the least cloudiest nigorizake. The color of sasanigori is almost as clear as the water, but if you look a bit closer, you can still spot those tiny rice particles.

Usunigori

The same level of cloudiness as sasanigori.

Kasseinigori

Kasseinigori is a type of nigorizake where the sake entered a second fermentation creating gas in the bottle just like champagne.

Foods To Pair With Nigorizake

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So what food would you pair with nigorizake?

Nigorizake is quite rich, so the food you pair with it ideally needs to be also: Chinese food and meat dish, cheese. Sashimi and hiyayakko (Cold Tofu)pair better with kasseinigori.


Why not try different styles of nigori the next time you visit KURAND SAKE MARKET. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

Unfamiliar Sake Terms: Genshu

The first hurdle when buying sake is the label and navigating your way around unfamiliar terms like hiyaoroshi, origarami, or nigorizake, but these terms give little hints about the taste profile of the contents in the bottle, so understanding their meaning makes it that bit easier to find something that matches your preference.

In this article we will decipher the term genshu. Genshu is a term used not only for sake, but also for shochu and other alcoholic drinks as well. So, what does genshu mean?

Type of Sake That Is Labelled as Genshu

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Genshu is the term used for undiluted sake. In sake brewing, water is sometimes added to the sake after filtration (pressing) to adjust the alcohol content in a process called kasui. Genshu is quite simply the version that omits this kasui, so genshu tends to have a higher alcohol content than standard diluted fayre: normally, the alcohol content for diluted sake is around 15%, but the alcohol content of genshu is around 20%.

Undiluted sake can also be labelled with the word mukasui instead of genshu—and as they mean the same thing, both terms are used interchangeably.

Taste Characteristics

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As it’s not diluted with water, the taste of genshu is bold and rich. Because of the slightly higher alcohol content, some people might find that it’s a bit too strong for them, but others argue that undiluted is the only way to enjoy the real taste of sake.

The Diluting Process: Kasui

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As already explained, kasui is a step in sake brewing process, and the process is done to adjust the taste and the alcohol content of the sake. The amount of the water used to dilute the sake varies depending on the sake types and the brewery.

Ways To Enjoy Genshu

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Sake is usually served cold or warm, but for genshu, we recommend on the rocks: as the ice melts, it slowly reduces the genshu’s kick, so that you can avoid getting drunk too quickly. Genshu also makes for a great cocktail base; mixing it with your favourite fruits juices or soft drinks is a great easy way to make a simple sake cocktail.

Enjoy The Taste of Genshu!

It’s the fact that genshu is not diluted with water that allows you to experience the real taste and fragrance of sake. That’s why many breweries make it this way in the first place. And there is no better place to enjoy genshu than at KURAND SAKE MARKET, where you can find many different types from different boutique breweries. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

Reasons Why You Should Drink Amazake in The Summer

Thank to the spread of various elements of Japanese cuisine overseas, it’s probably quite well known that Amazake is a low, or—very often—non-alcoholic drink made from fermented rice, which Japanese people like to drink in the winter. A lesser known fact is that it actually makes a nice drink in the summer too—and in fact that is when you should drink it.

As it is rich in vitamins and minerals there are many health benefits from consuming Amazake—so much so, that it is often compared to an “IV Drip”.

In this article we look at some of the reasons why Amazake is particularly suitable for the summer months. We will also share a few easy recipes so that you can try to make it at home.

Is Amazake best enjoyed in The Winter?

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Many people think of Amazake as a winter drink, and it’s true that most Japanese people drink warm Amazake in the winter to warm up their bodies. But it might surprise you to learn that Amazake is actually originally a summer drink.

Amazake was invented in the Edo period as a summer energy drink, which is why Amazake is rich in vitamins and minerals. In the ancient times, many people drank Amazake in the summer to recover from chronic fatigue.

The drink was sold on the street by hawkers, who walked around the cities shouting “Amazake, Amazake”.

In short, drinking Amazake in the summer is a practice in Japan that dates way back.

Why People Compare Amazake to an IV Drip

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Amazake is rich in vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B-complex, Folic Acid, Fiber, Oligofructose, Cysteine, Arginine, Glutamine, Amino Acid, and Glucose. Many Japanese people compare it to an IV Drip”. In fact, the drink has many other health benefits.

・It Relieves Fatigue

We all crave sweet stuff when we are tired. That’s because our brain is designed to give signals when the body is tired. The high levels of glucose in Amazake helps aid a rapid recover from fatigue.

・It Prevents Cold

Amazake is rich in good protein and vitamins, which help boost metabolism and immunity. That’s why this drink prevents you from catching a cold, and it is one of the best remedies for cold as well.

・It Improves Your Digestive System

Amazake is rich in fibers, and since the drink is made from fermented rice, is also a good source of probiotics. You can improve your digestive system by drinking Amazake.

・It Is Good For Your Skin

Amazake is rich in Kojic Acid, which is good for skin brightening and skin conditioning. Amazake is also rich in Vitamin C, Amino Acid, Oxygen, and Biotin, which brighten and condition your skin.

・It Helps You Lose Weight

Consuming foods that are rich in fat is the main cause of weight gain. If you want to lose weight while drinking sweet drink, you should definitely drink Amazake, which is rich in Vitamin B Complex that also helps you burn the body fat.

How To get the most out of Amazake

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There are a few things you should remember to enjoy all the benefits of Amazake.

・Too Much Heat Is Bad

Preheated Amazake will warm up your body, and many Japanese people love to drink Amazake in the winter. However, too much heat will destroy the Vitamin B1 and Vitamin C in Amazake, so the ideal temperature of Amazake is around human’s body temperature.

・Check The Ingredients of Amazake

There are two different types of Amazake, one is made from sake lees, and the other one is made from malted rice.

Amazake made from sake lees is rich in fibers, but it is also high in calories since it is rich in sugar as well. This type of Amazake contains alcohol, and will warm up body your body if you drink it. It is not really suitable for children, pregnant women, and people who will partake in sporting activity.

Amazake made from malted rice is rich in minerals, but lacks fiber. This type of Amazake has no alcohol and no sugar is added, but it still tastes sweet as it is rich in glucose.

Both types of Amazake are rich in nutrients, and both of them are good for your health.

Easy Amazake Recipe for The Summer!

You can of course drink Amazake just the way it is, but where would the fun be in that. Here are a few recipes to turn it into a refreshing summer drink.

Easy Amazake and Milk Sorbet

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■Ingredients: Amazake 200 ml, Milk
■How to make: Mix Amazake & Milk altogether, and put them in the freezer. Mix the frozen sorbet with spoon before eating.

Easy Amazake Fruits Ice Cream

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■Ingredients: Condensed Amazake 200 g, Fruit Juice
■How to make: Mix condensed Amazake and fruit juice with blender or food processor, and put them in the freezer. Mix the frozen ice cream with blender or food processor before eating.

Easy Amazake Soy Milkshake

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■Ingredients: Amazake 100 ml, Soy Milk 100 ml, lemon juice
■How to make: Mix Amazake, soy milk, and lemon juice with blender.


We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Why not try a little Amazake this summer and reap its health benefits. You could even bring one of the non-alcoholic types along when you visit KURAND SAKE MARKET. We look forward to welcoming you!

A beginner’s guide to pairing sake with food at an izakaya

When ordering sake at an Izakaya, what does everyone use as a reference point.
A lot of people no doubt start with the production location or whether the brand is familiar or not.

However, if you are going to go to the trouble of ordering sake in the first place, proper consideration should also be given to food-matching potential. We certainly felt that it wasn’t getting enough attention, so we decided to put together a little quick-start pairing guide of combinations of sake and cuisine that mutually compliment each other.

Some Simple Pointers

Ask for food that matches your sake order.
Match with whatever is in front of you.
・Consult those around you for hints.

*The following is intended as a rough guide only.  

1. Match by Sake Grade / Type

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Any respectable menu is going to include the sake grades that are used to classify premium / super premium sake such as junmai and ginjo. This is always a good place to start.

Junmai Type Sake

The key feature of this type of sake is — as the grade name Junmai (LIT: pure rice) suggests — a very strong rice flavour and aroma (although if you do not eat rice as a staple you may interpret it as nutty or herby instead) . Not surprisingly, the best match is going to be a similarly ricey morsel: in the case of Izakaya staples, a rice based dish with plenty of heavy seasoning like chahan (Japanese-style Chinese fried rice); in the case of western cuisine, an Italian risotto topped with lashings of parmesan cheese should get along together swimmingly.

Examples
Soy sauce simmered fish dishes, simmered dishes, meat dishes, stir-fried vegetable or meat dishes. A rice bowl of any description makes for an easy no-fuss option. Just as a little knob of butter adds something to a bowl of rice, sauteed and flambeed dishes will give you a melt-in-the-mouth taste experience.

 

Ginjo / Daiginjo Type Sake

Sake labelled as Ginjo or Daiginjo, has an instantly identifiable fragrant or fruity nose. (Daiginjo is basically the more superior version: an even more refined, sophisticated fragrance and flavour) Although this normally sits it in the aperitif / digestive category, it can also be paired with light, simple dishes. On the other hand, it is probably best to steer clear of super oily, meaty dishes.

Examples
White fish sashimi, carpaccio, Ohitashi (boiled greens in bonito flavoured soy sauce), fish broiled with salt, olives, Fatsia Sprouts. Advocado and seafood salad, white fish mouse, chop suey, mountain vegetable tempura. Daiginjos go particularly well with fresh fruit.

 

Nama (unpasteurised)

Unpasteurised sake, sake which has skipped the heat treatment stages comes with a white-wine-like freshness that enhances the characteristics of whatever it is paired with. Basically pair this sake like you would a white wine and you can’t go far wrong.

Examples
Oysters, turbot, sweet shrimp, fish roe, sauteed scallops, goya chanpuru (an dish from Okinawa), cheese etc. Most chicken dishes. Freshly prepared tomato based pasta dishes are also a definite winner.

 

Aged / Vintage Sake

With its flavour reminiscent of Shaoxing wine or sherry, aged sake is an imbiber’s nectar of the gods. It is characterised by its refined mature aromas and rich, deep, sweet flavours. Thus, the food you pair with it should follow suit. In other words, we are talking about all those dishes that you wouldn’t normally think about pairing with sake. That really opens up the possibilities doesn’t it? Indeed, pretty much anything that errs a bit on the eccentric or inventive is going to be game. If all else fails, or for the easy option, it makes a great after dinner dessert drink.

Examples
Eel braised in soy sauce, Mabo Tofu, Buta Kakuni (a super dish of pork braised in its juices and soy sauce), beef stew, spaghetti with a bolognese or ragu sauce, fois gras, Peking Duck, Chinese Dumplings, lamb or steak etc. Also try Korean Kimuchi and even Indian curry.

 

Honjozo & Futsushu Type

An ‘eatery’ classic, with its more reserved aroma and light dry palate, this is a type of sake to suit all tastes. On a basic level, food pairing options include all kinds of cuisine. It really depends on preference but at a push, simple cuisine is probably going to work the best.

Examples
Hiyayako (a cold dish of tofu with onion and soy sauce), salted fish entrails, seafood with a sake marinade, fish cake, pickles, Ohitashi, vinegar seasoned dishes. For sakes that are on the richer side, pair with equally rich dishes.

 

2. 3 Fundamentals of Food Pairing

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Sake making goliath, Hakutsuru Brewery carried out some research on food pairing. Based on this research, we have divided some fundamental flavour combinations into 3 distinct categories.

Aim for Balance

Rich cuisine goes with rich sake. Light cuisine goes with clean, smooth sakes. Salty dishes go with dry sake. Matchings like these achieve an equilibrium between the flavours of the sake and the food.

Examples
Sauce type Yakitori = sweet sake <> Salt type Yakitori = dry sake.Tempura + dipping sauce = sweet sake <> Salt + Tempura = Dry sake etc etc.

 

Aim for Harmony

Believe it or not, harmony among sake and food is possible. It is a bit like when a meat dish gives you a hankering for red wine. So that sake never feels out of place positioned after each bite, pay attention to the sake’s finish. A shorter length or crisp finish makes sure that the sake won’t get in the way of whatever you pair with it.

Examples
Pairing a delicate Ginjo fragrance with a no-frills, honest cuisine puts the aroma of the sake centre stage. In the completely opposite way, sweet sake doesn’t argue with dishes that have a strong vinegar flavour.

 

Exploit the Wash

Not to be confused with the finish. The wash is the refreshing feeling that you get at the end of certain sakes, that if paired correctly, can have the effect of cleansing the palate in between mouthfuls, in the same way that a glass of water does; indeed, it is called the wash because it is effectively a washing action. If a glass of water acts as a full stop, then a sake with the right wash acts as a semicolon or comma. It doesn’t break the flow, it adds to it. It is bit like following a bite of a sausage with a beer: the beer resets the palate so that you can enjoy the next bite. In the case of sake, it does so much more than this because it actually enhances the flavour of whatever comes next.

Examples
Deep fried dishes with clean, smooth sakes. Fatty cuisine like steak with simple, uncomplicated sakes.

 

3. Food Pairing Taboos

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Next, we take a step back from the first half of this article to take a look at the sorts of food pairings that should be avoided like the plague.

Fallout

Considering that sake is often referred to an alcoholic beverage that: “doesn’t get into fights with food”, it seems rather ironic that we should be writing about such a pairing, but sadly even the most demure of creations can bring out a dark side. Sake is no exception.

Bringing out the Dark Side

The fallout of this type of pairing is the enhancement of unfavourable flavourings such as bitterness, fishiness, astringency. In short, the sake and the food amplify each other’s faults.

Erasing Each Other’s Traits

A pairing without balance results in a loss of character for both the sake and the food.

For example, trying to pair an aromatic sake with a stinky, fishy dish. Such a pairing wipes out anything good in either. In the worse cases, the flavour of the ingredients in either are completely wiped out. Another example would be trying to pair a very watery, light sake with strong-flavoured boisterous or super-oily dishes.

Bringing out the best parts of the food is normally one of sake’s strengths. Even so, it might be worth keeping the above less desirable outcomes in mind.

Finally,

Well that about wraps up another article and our little sermon on sake and food pairing.

Don’t forget that it is just a very rough guide. There are plenty of other combinations we haven’t touched upon. Why not try and find them yourself the next time you pop into KURAND SAKE MARKET.

Source: Hakutsuru’s Research
Source: SSI (Sake Service Institute) Homepage