Best Japanese Snacks to Pair with Sake
Sake is Japanese rice wine that originated in the 8th century. It is made with a multi-step process that involves removing the bran from rice, steaming it, fermenting the polished rice with koji and yeast, and making it more delicious using the maker’s secret recipe. Because of the many steps, a simple base of sake, koji, and water can result in a complex flavor with a wide variety of flavor profiles.
Additionally, it can be served either cold or hot, so it’s loved by Japanese people all year around. Creaminess of sake makes perfect balance with salty food like soy sauce and sweetness of rice adds more flavor to sweet food as well. That being said, sake goes well with almost any type of food, including desserts! So let us introduce you to some sweet Japanese snacks to pair with your sake!
Sugata Nama Genshu
And Salt and Camembert Cheese Cookie
When it comes to cheese, you’d think of wine to pair with. In japan they say that you can drink sake just with salt, as the saltiness makes sake taste even better by bringing out the sweetness of the drink. Plus, although they originated from different cultures, cheese and sake are both fermented foods, a quality that makes them taste great together!
Try Salt and Camembert Cheese Cookies with Sugata Nama Genshu. Sugata Nama Genshu is a type of nama genshu sake, which means it’s unpasteurized (nama), undiluted (genshu) sake. It tastes quite strong and very fresh with clean aftertaste. Its high alcohol percentage and strong acidity balance out well with creaminess and richness of camembert cheese. The crunchy texture of the cookie is a plus.
Mizbasho Early Bloom Junmai Ginjo
And Kaju Gummy: Peach
If you’re looking for something more refreshing than cheese, we suggest the peach flavored Kaju Gummy. We prefer the Peach Kaju Gummy over actual white peach for pairing! It’s sweet, tart and juicy just like white peach, but the mochimochi (chewy) texture makes it even tastier.
But it will taste even better with Mizbasho Early Bloom Junmai Ginjo. Made with pure rice (junmai), this sake has a very smooth texture. Along with the smoothness, you can taste delicate peach and mild aromas of apple and banana with a tangy finish. If you’re craving something fruity, pair this sake with Kaju Gummy: Peach or Aomori Apple Caramel Yakkoi Sable Cookie to fully enjoy the flavor of tangy fruits.
Ginkobai “Hannya Tou”
And Kyoto Matcha Waffle Sandwich
Ginkobai Hannya Tou is a unique bottle made with the spirit of Hannya. Hannya is one of the Japanese monsters who used to be an innocent beautiful woman betrayed by her husband. Hannya is full of anger and resentment and for that reason, pepper is added to this sake to make it spicy.
But even before pepper is added to this sake, Ginkobai Hannya Tou is plum sake. Plum is one of the most common fruits in Japan and is used in many foods and drinks. One pairing recommendation is ume ochazuke, which is a bowl of rice topped with ume (pickled plum) that has tea poured over it. We suggest recreating this food by pairing this sake with Kyoto Matcha Waffle Sandwich. It’s almost like having a Japanese classic meal with a sophisticated kick of pepper in your cup!
Ichinokura Himezen Junmai
And Japanese Kit Kat: Strawberry Otona no Amasa
If you’re looking for something light, Ichinokura Himezen Junmai is what you’re looking for. This sake is a type of amaguchi sake which means sweet sake, and Ichinokura Himezen Junmai is intentionally made into dessert sake by stopping rice fermentation when the sugar content reaches its highest level. It is low in alcohol (8%) and tastes sweet and a bit fruity as well.
We recommend you to drink this with Japanese Kit Kat: Strawberry Otona no Amasa! This Kit Kat is part of the “sweetness for adults” line. It’s coated in flagrantly fruity strawberry chocolate, with flecks of strawberry blended in. The tartness of strawberry adds a refreshing kick to your sake and cleanses your palate which will make you want to eat more and drink more.
Mizubasho Dessert Sake
And White Black Thunder
Is there dessert sake just like there’s dessert wine? Yes! Mizubasho Dessert Sake is processed in the kijoshu style and is aged in cold temperatures for five years. When sake makers make a sake mash (moromi), they add koji, steamed rice and water to a yeast starter (shubo) little by little in three steps over 4 days. But in kijoshu style, the makers add sake instead of water in the last step (tomejikomi) to slow or stop the fermentation to yield sweeter taste. This type of sake is known to have golden pumpkin color!
Mizubasho Dessert Sake is then aged for five years to maximize its umami flavor. As a result, this sake has full-bodied sweetness that goes especially well with smooth-textured foods like foie gras or desserts like chocolate! That’s why you should try this sake with a rich dessert snack like White Black Thunder. The creamy white chocolate coating the bar enhances the texture of the sake, then the intense chocolate flavor adds richness to your sake (and you can also find fun puffed rice inside)!
Pairing Japanese snacks and sake is not just for people who like sake already, but it is also great for people who don’t usually drink sake. The right pairing can help maximize your enjoyment of the drink and bring out the best qualities. Sake’s sweet umami and lighter body also make it a good beverage for a casual evening. Also, sake will make your experience with Japanese snacks even better too with harmonious flavors!
Confused which sake to drink? Take the quiz here to find out the perfect sake for you!