Sake and food pairings

March 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fabulous sake and food pairings. Tips for the perfect combinations from sake sommelier for Ozumo Restaurant in Oakland, Jessica Furui.

Pairing sake and food:

1 . Shiromi Usuzukuri (Thinly sliced white fish, carpaccio style) w/ Masumi Arabashiri Namazake
Namazake, or unpasteurized sake, is typically bright and vivid, often with just a touch of sweetenss, great for thinly sliced white fish.. Perfect as an aperitif with it refreshing attributes.

2. Light Sashimi Salad (Seafood Salad) w/Kokuryu Tokusen Ginjo
Ginjo's beauty is in its versatility. Great with salads or tempura with enough body to be flavorful while not overpowering the dish.

3. Grilled KushiYaki (Assorted Grilled meat/vegies) w/ Denshu Tokubetsu Junmai
The subtle sweetness of this special junami brew helps to draw the sweetness of the tare sauce with enough structure to stand up to the strong textures of grilled meats and vegies.

4. Braised Kakuni (Short Ribs) w/ Masumi Nanago Yamahai Daignijo
Yamahai style sake often have a rich, supple texture with sometimes gamey and earthy tones. These brews are the quintessential pairing for hearty and juicy BBQ or braised dishes.

***One caveat: As with all things sake, there are a myriad of exceptions and variations of each style of sake, which makes pairing sake with food much more approachable. To put is simply: Nihonshu wa ryori wo erabanai, or sake does not get into fights with food.

About Jessica Furui:
Jessica Furui first tasted premium sake while living in Truckee, California 10 years ago. This was her first experience working in a sushi bar and it inspired so many aspects of her life there after. Moving to San Francisco in 2003 gave her the opportunity to further her passion for Japanese food culture and sake. Hired at Ozumo in 2004 as a server, she then had the wonderful opportunity to train as a sushi chef and worked for 2 years in her dream job; all the while, loving and learning the sake story and the humble passion surrounding its production. As of June 2008, she has been the house Sake Sommelier responsible for buying new product, staff education, writing descriptions and product recommendation to guests. Last summer, she took Sake Professional Course Level 1 given by author John Gauntner and passed. She will travel to Japan next month to take Level 2. Jessica has been to Japan every year for 4 years as a guest of several breweries all over the country, witnessing first hand how this beautiful elixir is created. She has been intimately involved with the Joy of Sake event here in SF for the past 4 years. Jessica will be heading up monthly sake tastings as well as writing a monthly newsletter for Ozumo Oakland.