Cooking with sake

24 April, 2020

Get confident in the kitchen with this Japanese favourite

It wasn’t long ago that sake was considered an exotic drink that people would only have tried if they’d been to Japan or were a particularly dedicated drinks aficionado. An alcoholic liquid made from fermenting rice, sake is made using a two-step brewing process that takes between one to three months. The alcohol content is usually between 15% to 20%. In recent years, sake has become far more mainstream in Australia. It’s readily available in many bottle shops and both home cooks and restaurants are embracing sake in the kitchen.

Ways to use sake in the kitchen

Cooking with sake is a versatile way to add depth and complexity to food. Sake can be used as a steaming or braising liquid, as well as marinades and cures, or reduced to make a rich,
sweet glaze. With flavours ranging from delicate to robust, sake can be paired with everything to light shellfish, oily fish, and prime cuts of red meat, as well as vegetables. Sake is considered to be enriched with umami (savouriness) and have a delicate sweetness, with both of these attributes able to be accentuated in the final dish depending on the other ingredients used.
Sake is often popular in the kitchen as it has a milder taste than other alcoholic cooking liquids such as beer, wine or spirits. Due to the high levels of umami in sake, it can also mean that less salt is needed in the cooking process, as well as creating depth with a lower fat content.

Some of our favourite dishes with sake

Here’s some ideas for cooking with sake:

  • Steaming: Use sake as a steaming liquid for things like clams and mussels, or give an Asian spin to the French cooking method of en papillote and use sake as a steaming liquid in baked parcels with things like white fish, chicken breasts and vegetables.
  • Marinade: Try marinating tough meats like beef ribs overnight for a more tender final dish.
  • Glazing: A classic mix of sake, miso and other flavourings like garlic and ginger can beblended to make a glaze for a range of different proteins (fish, chicken and tofu areall great starting points) as well as vegetables, like eggplant, butternut squash and many more.
  • Pickling: Use sake as a pickling liquid for vegetables or for cured fish dishes, both Japanese as well as a variation on Peruvian ceviche, Hawaiian ahi poke, Italian seafood carpaccio and French steak tartare.

Where to buy sake in Chatswood

Both premium sake for drinking and cooking sake is generally available. Bottle shops like BWS have a range of drinking sake, and cooking sake is usually available in supermarkets like Woolworths Metro.