Why Pairing Sake With Seafood Is The Perfect Combination
The bounty of the ocean and the vastness of its rice fields have provided Japan with two of the country’s most defining culinary offerings—a wealth of wonderful seafood, and a rich and diverse history of sake. The two are a natural marriage in the realm of gastronomy, where the umami characters of sake complement and heighten the natural flavour of seafood dishes. It’s the principle behind the Seafood Loves Sake campaign by The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Centre (JFOODO), which aims to showcase the idea that sake is, in fact, the best possible drink to pair with seafood.
In Hong Kong, enjoying the latter is a part of everyday dining—and this year, the Seafood Loves Sake line-up features Chinese restaurants Fresh Seafood Restaurant, Shun De Kun, and Dragon Gown in order to showcase how perfectly sake can complement the cuisine’s iconic seafood dishes.
“In the last two years, sake has risen in popularity, not only in East Asia but in America and Europe as well,” says sake expert Ivan Sean. “Sake can counter fishiness in foods, making it ideal to pair with seafood.” Sean explains that the majority of Cantonese seafood dishes can be divided into two categories—simple steamed or poached preparations that emphasise the natural flavour of the ingredients, and more heavily seasoned methods such as typhoon shelter, garlic and chilli, or black bean. “Both of these preparations can suit sake—fresh and smooth sake can be paired with lighter dishes, while richer and more aromatic sake can match with more intense flavours,” he explains.
Dishes by Dragon Gown (Photo: Courtesy of Seafood Loves Sake)
Dishes by Shun De Kun (Photo: Courtesy of Seafood Loves Sake)
Dishes by Fresh Seafood Restaurant (Photo: Courtesy of Seafood Loves Sake)
For the campaign, each of the participating restaurants will offer at least three Seafood Loves Sake pairing menus for the home, which will each include a seafood dish plus a complementary half bottle of sake, which is good enough to share between two people. Stunning dishes and sake pairings include deep-fried Chinese noodle fish with chilli and spice salt from Fresh Seafood Restaurant that is matched with a strong-tasting Hakutsuru Yamada-Nishiki Tokubetsu Junmai sake; deep-fried dace fishball with clam sauce from Shun De Kun that goes with the clean-tasting Shirayuki Tokusen Ginjo; and stir-fried celery with abalone from Dragon Gown, which goes with a sweet and fruity Tatenokawa Seiryu Junmai Daiginjo.
The special menus are available via UberEats, creating the opportunity for food lovers to enjoy the magical pairing of seafood and sake in the comfort of their own home. As an added treat, customers who order the Seafood Loves Sake pairing sets will also receive a sake bag while stocks last.
The trend of home cooking continues, and enjoying sake and seafood pairings is not necessarily only available in restaurants, suggests famed chef Ben Li Kam Luen, who has developed two unique recipes for the promotion. These sake and seafood pairings for the home are just one part of the entire campaign, which will also highlight culinary promotions not only in restaurants but in retail outlets around Hong Kong. Between 10-22 December, head to Aeon supermarkets around the city to seek out the special Seafood Loves Sake corner that will feature food and wine bundles, curated by kikisakeshi (certified sake sommeliers) who will also be on-site to explain more about the pairings. In 2021, the Seafood Loves Sake kiosks can be found at Yata supermarkets around the city between 5 - 18 January.
While it may be some time before travellers can enjoy trips to experience Japan on holiday again, certainly through the Seafood Loves Sake campaign they can get a taste of why seafood and sake remain, to date, one of life’s finest pairings.