Seafood Loves Sake Event: Singapore’s Top Chefs Whip Up Menus, To Be Perfectly Paired With Japanese Sake
The next time you order your favourite seafood dish, try something different and pair it with sake instead of the standard white wine. Take a bite of, say, lightly torched lobster that's been layered with gooey cheese, then take a sip of a Daiginjo or Junmai, and enjoy the explosion of sumptuous flavours.
It’s not magic. Simply put, sake is a much better option for a variety of reasons. One is its amino acid content that gives that desired umami taste, therefore contributing to bolder and more defined seafood notes. It also has little iron content compared to white wine, which is responsible for the unpleasant aroma and slight bitterness when combined with fish or crustaceans.
Now that we’ve established the beautiful harmony between sake and seafood, JFOODO, an organisation within the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), is celebrating it with the launch of the "Seafood Loves Sake" Restaurant Campaign, a series of tantalising dinners at acclaimed restaurants in Singapore from October 1 to November 30.
The premise is that each chef comes up with exclusive dishes that are paired with high-quality sake chosen by a professional sake sommelier. As a testament to the quality sake he has picked, these brands have been awarded at the International Wine Challenge Sake Competition (IWC) that was first introduced in 2007.
Says Hiroki Oizumi, director-general of JFOODO: "Singapore is a country which has developed into a crossroad of various cultures, the people have discerning palates and are highly sensitive to diverse cuisine. Several top restaurants are going to hold a 'Seafood Loves Sake' Restaurant Campaign. We would like the people in Singapore to ignite their taste buds and try out the unimaginable combination of seafood and sake."
In fact, here are the restaurants where you can enjoy these delicious pairings.
Chef-owner Kenji Yamanaka’s first dish is a pillowy ravioli encasing fresh sea urchin from Hokkaido and freshly-made fennel cream—topped with a generous dollop of indulgent Antonius Oscietra caviar from Poland. The seafood-forward dish is best matched with the dry and well-balanced Mutsu Hassen Hanaomoi 40, layered with fruity hints of pear and apples.
Don’t stop there because you can indulge in lightly-seared scallop, elevated with the ZAKU Kanade No Tomo, a complex but smooth Junmai ginjo with fairly good acidity and pineapple-melon finish.
2/11 Burnt Ends
Chef David Pynt’s only dish for the event is the kingfish collar, seasoned with miso and lemongrass and deftly grilled in a massive custom-made grill. The fish is firm but fatty, so the sommelier paired it with the ZAKU Gen No Tomo, to cut through the fattiness and relieve the palate.
One good reason to head to this restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa is for the culinary team’s serving of plump Hokkaido scallop, glazed with malt and delicately grilled over binchotan to enhance its natural sweetness. It comes with the meaty pork terrine and braised sauerkraut for extra acidity, while the parsley emulsion rounds off the dish with its bright herbaceous components.
A complex dish like this needs the right match, which is why the John Sparkling IWC Trophy 2016 (Winner of the IWC Sparkling Sake Trophy 2016) was picked for its mellow fruity notes and lively bubbles that accentuate the different elements of the dish.
Make it worth your trip by tossing in the firm, white-flesh perch skilfully pan-fried to achieve a crisp skin and succulent meat. It comes with a smoked beurre blanc with le puy lentils, and the Tatenokawa Seiryu, made with the original Dewasansan sake rice from the Yamagata Prefecture. It’s light, fruity and vivacious, and its gentle and smooth finish doesn’t overpower the main.
(Related: What Makes Sake The Perfect Choice For Any Dish)
4/11 Foc Restaurant
Sake is so versatile that you can drink it with a multitude of cuisines—including Catalan. That’s the reason why culinary director Jordi Noguera was inspired to create six exclusive dishes for the special dinner.
The quintessential grilled Galician octopus and pork belly skewer is one; its smokiness complemented by the perfectly balanced Hatsukame Tokubetsu Junmai Homarefuji. Meanwhile, the grilled Mediterranean tuna belly is paired with the Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50, as it evens out the fattiness on the palate. It’s also served with strawberries and green apples.
(Related: 10 Top Sakes To Savour Right Now)
Even modern European fare is a good match with this Japanese brew, as proven by the pairing of Hokkaido scallop tartare dressed with coriander oil, with the super dry Kinryo Junmai Yamahai which boasts a clean finish.
A simple grilled Amadai bedecked with smoked zucchini, cabbage and an umami-packed seaweed-butter sauce tastes even better with the Hideyoshi Junmai Daiginjo, as the drink’s sweet and citrus body complements the smokiness and soft texture of the fish.
Chef Petrina Loh loves clean and bright flavours, evident in her appetisers of fresh oysters topped with mangosteen shrub and marigold cress, and Himono Kuhlbarra Barramundi lathered with berry jam and served on toast. Both need an equally lively sake, which is why the sake sommeliers have picked the Mutsu Hassen Pink Label, with a good acidity that rounds off the citrus and floral undertones.
Onto mains and she has whipped up the wild Sri Lankan prawns with smoky scarmoza, pistachio yoghurt and sweet potato, and venus clams in fig chicken broth and a side of homemade kimchi. You’ll witness the versatility of the Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50 as its minerality and fruity aromas make the dishes even better.
Chef Ivan Brehm lends his culinary prowess to the "Seafood Loves Sake" Restaurant Campaign, creating a dish of carefully grilled scallop bathed in a rich coconut sauce, which goes well with the Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50. It’s made with highly polished rice, using a specific yeast, which pairs well with the dish’s herbaceous and floral notes.
Brehm's take on the local black pepper crab features the meaty shellfish drenched in a piquant and peppery sauce. It found its perfect match in the Shimazaki Junmai Yamahai Uroko; it has a more defined acidity that cuts through the richness of the sauce.
In line with his Monochrome theme, chef Fernando Arévalo is serving monkfish in a potent vin jaune sauce, accented with seasonal mushrooms, truffle, cod and liver. A complex dish like this needs to be paired with the equally fascinating Kamoizumi Aged Junmai Ginjo Sachi 1997, whose touch of ageing sake notes meld wonderfully with the dish.
In the same vein is the serving of obsiblue prawns, their inherent sweetness is amplified by the juicy, pineapple notes of the Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50. There is also the poached Nantucket scallop with salted corn, enhanced by the clean and beautiful notes of the ZAKU Kanade No Tomo.
Preludio | 03-01/02 Frasers Tower, 182 Cecil Street, S(069547) | 6904 5686 | firstname.lastname@example.org
9/11 Punjab Grill
Indian food and sake may seem worlds apart, but not in chef Javed Ahamad’s kitchen where he has been dishing out unique dishes for the local palate. He has even crafted a dish of pan-seared Tellicherry pepper prawn in a piquant coconut and curry leaves sauce; its well-balanced spices are complemented by the invigorating Kinryo Junmai Yamahai.
It’s the same with the barramundi fish tikka and chargrilled basil and mustard, where the sommeliers have chosen the Uzume Tokubetsu Junmai for its creamy texture as well as balanced and clean finish.
Guided by the culinary philosophy of La Cuisine Naturelle, head chef Takuya Yamashita simply cures the Ina mackerel in vinegar, then accents it beautifully with fresh herbs, fennel and apple slices. It’s light and easy on the palate, and its delicateness isn’t overpowered by the ALPHA Kaze no Mori TYPE 3.
But for the Hokkaido crab somen with a dash of sherry vinegar—inspired by the Shanghai crab stewed noodle—the Hanahato Kijoshu aged 8 years, acts like a condiment and final piece that completes the elements of the dish.
Last but not least is this stellar restaurant helmed by executive chef Tristin Farmer, and its unique cuisine, which is a blend of Nordic and Japanese influences, and is best savoured with fine sake.
His chawanmushi with pork belly topped with rossini golden osetra caviar comes with the Tamagawa Spontaneous Fermentation Junmaishu (Yamahai) "Vintage", an older but better sake with intensely heady umami notes that strike a harmonious note with the pork dashi. Meanwhile, its subtle roasted nuttiness magnifies the natural flavours of the caviar.
Zén | 41 Bukit Pasoh Road, S(089855) | 6534 8880 | email@example.com