Text: Ronny Lau
Sashimi is national diet in Japan, but not all the Sakes produced in the country are good to pair with seafood, especially the ingredients that carry a fishy taste such as oyster or sea urchin. Well, Japanese culture is sometimes quite miserable. Another example is the Glorious Mt. Fuji Sakes, you may think they are made in Yamanashi Prefecture by the name " Mt. Fuji", but the brewery is actually established in Yamagata Prefecture, five hundred kilometers from Mount Fuji!
If you are really looking for a bottle of Sake to go with oyster or sea urchin, try "Unfiltered Nama Genshu".
In order to keep Sakes stable, toji (brew master) would pasteurized them in two stages before bottling, so that the micro-organisms and enzymes from the koji and yeast do not continue working. However, this process may take away the freshness of Sake, taste profile is more on rice than fruit, when you enjoy it with oyster or sea urchin, the fishy taste will be exaggerated. Fishy seafood is better to pair with unpasteurized Sake, or "Nama" in Japanese.
Some breweries understood Sake lovers may prefer unpasteurized Sake with stronger taste, so "Unfiltered Nama Genshu" is born. Unfiltered Sake keeps the original aromas and flavour, and Genshu (undiluted Sake) keeps the original alcoholic strength. As a matter of fact, regular Sakes were diluted with water before bottling.
Glorious Mt. Fuji is an expert of unfiltered Nama Genshu, during the Sake Walk 2019, the owner of Eiko Fuji Brewery showed me some of his products in this category. Among them, the limited edition Junmai Daiginjo The Platinum really grabbed my attention. It's made from Yukimegami, with Yamagata yeast, and 33% rice polishing ratio. It shows tropical fruit aromas and fresh acidity.
"Yukimegami" literally means "Snow Goddess", which is the latest rice variety developed for making Sake in Yamagata prefecture in 2015. Since Yukimegami has low protein, it inhibits amino acids during the brewing process and make the Sake clean and smooth. If you enjoy this Sake with oysters or sea urchin, it will take the definition of "smooth" to a new level.