Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa and Kokusai Sake Kai co-hosted a celebration of this year’s rare supermoon with a Tsukimi no En, or Moon Viewing Party, on Nov. 18 at the Consul General’s residence in Nu‘uanu. (A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new full moon with the closest approach of the moon, which results in the largest apparent size of the lunar moon as seen from earth.) The next supermoon is not expected until Nov. 25, 2034.

Photo of Chef Yuki Kawamura prepared foods that complemented the sake.
Chef Yuki Kawamura prepared foods that complemented the sake.

The social/educational event gave guests an opportunity to learn more about the three varieties of sake — Daiginjo, Ginjo and Junmai — and to sample sakes not available in the United States. The guests also got to see how pairing sake with certain foods enhances the flavor of both the food and the sake. Chef Yuki Kawamura prepared nine different dishes to complement the sakes.

Understanding sake, including acidity level and whether a sake is sweet or dry, can take years to truly understand and appreciate. However, the following is a brief description the three types:

Ginjo sakes are fruity and floral and light and refreshing. The rice grains have been milled down to 60 percent of their original size prior to steaming. This means that 40 percent of the outer layer of the rice grain has been polished off. Light dishes such as pumpkin salad, miso-marinated tofu, and cucumber and octopus with sweet vinegar dressing are recommended with Ginjo sakes.

Junmai sakes have a rice polishing ratio of 70 percent, meaning that 30 percent has been polished away. These sakes have a robust flavor and can be enjoyed either warm or cold. Junmai sakes are easy to drink and are reasonably priced. They are best served with down to earth comfort foods such as grilled mackerel sushi, vegetable tempura, and simmered pork and radish.

Daiginjo sakes are very expensive because the polishing ratio is taken down to 50 percent or lower. They are made in smaller and limited quantities and employ traditional methods. The flavor and aroma profiles tend to be richer and thus require an equally rich-tasting dish to complement it. Recommended dishes include deep-fried smelt marinated in sweet vinegar and served with vegetables, matsutake mushrooms and Chrysanthemum with soy sauce and yellowtail sashimi.


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