I’ll be honest with you, I’m a fiend for bold, complex, flavourful sake and the simpler styles never really enticed me. That is until I started pairing them with food, and today, spaghetti allo scoglio was on the menu; pasta with fresh seafood.
Being from the island of Sardinia, I would usually pair this summer seafood coastal dish with a local Vermentino; think citrus notes, lean, refreshing, and acidity-driven with a touch of bitterness. Verdicchio, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc would also work.
When it comes to sake, the same rules apply.
Sasaichi brewery, in Yamanashi prefecture, located at the foot of Mount Fuji, has to compete with Koshu and Katsunuma, Japan’s revered wine making areas. First attempts to produce wine in the area date back to 1875 but sake came first so there!
The brewery’s ‘Dan’ range (scroll down for the bottle image) is brewed for food pairing as oppose to stand alone stardom. Pressed 3 months ago, this is a summer sake, known as natsuzake. It’s unpasteurised so it has a liveliness about it and quite zippy with high acidity. Aroma is subdued with slight muskmelon, generous umami, peppery notes on the palate, a touch of bitterness and a lingering finish. With an alcohol level of 16%, adding an ice cube is an option.
This sake has slight Vermentino qualities and the generous acidity of this sake meant that it was able to carry its own and not get lost with the garlic, parsley and touch of chilli. Let’s not forget that sake is great with seafood, muting the fishiness. Also the rich umami of the sake (higher than last year according to the brewery website) complemented the ripe cherry tomatoes.
Other sakes that would work include any on the dry side (off-dry, medium-dry), unpasteurised, fresh, light but with an acidity bite.
The dish recipe is simple (added to the pan in this order); olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, clams, mussels, prawns, scallops, white wine, cherry tomatoes and parsley.
Carb overload but crusty bread to mop up those juices is a must!