What is Umami?
Many people have already heard of “Umami,”
but do they really understand what exactly umami is?
Umami is one of the five basic tastes that are discovered in Japanese cooking (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami that is recently recognized as a fifth taste in the Western food world.) and often describes a type of savoriness.
The Umami Information Center explains Umami as follows:
As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize it when they encounter it. But in fact, umami plays a central role in making food taste delicious, and is found in most seasonings and condiments, including soy sauce, mirin, miso, chicken/beef stock, fish sauce, ketchup, etc.
Takara Mirin (a century old Japanese cooking seasoning) is the leading product among many mirin products. What’s more, it is rich in amino acids (umami). A combination of umami and rich sweetness, Takara Mirin enhances flavors of variety of foods.
* Umami Information Center. (2014). What exactly is umami? Retrieved from http://www.umamiinfo.com/2011/02/What-exactly-is-umami.php
(The Tasting Panel Magazine, October 2014)
Sake Kasu. The unveiling of a secret ingredient!
Sake Kasu (sake lees) is a by-product of sake. It is leftover from the Sake fermentation process. Once fermentation is completed, the raw sake is run through a pressing machine which separates the Moromi (main mash) into fresh sake and Sake Kasu. In the past, Sake Kasu applications were limited to traditional soups, hotpot style dishes and marinades for fish and vegetables. But this magical ingredient has much more than that up its sleeve! Use it in savory dishes, desserts or even drinks, hot and cold alike! Its versatility can’t be beat! Best of all, Sake Kasu has wonderful natural flavors packed full of UMAMI.
Check out the image below from a pickle shop in Berkeley that uses our Sake Kasu!
Restaurant “Benu” in San Francisco serves wonderful desserts using our Sake Kasu:
Sake Kasu foie gras, mountain yam and yuzu,
Sake Kasu sherbet, strawberry, nasturtium
Sake Kasu sherbet, strawberry, yuzu
Sake Kasu, chestnut, satsuma
UMAMI Recipe #5:
MIRIN is one of a traditional and treasured Japanese seasoning, used in cooking to enhance the Umami– the unique, natural savoriness– of a wide array of foods. In recent years the Umami has become well known among many food professionals and food lovers. We are introducing a special series of Umami Recipes, on our home page, featuring ways to enhance your food with our Takara Mirin.
(This recipe was adopted from the original recipe found at Food Network Kitchen.)
* 8 slices - White bread, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
* 1 1/2 pounds - Mixed mushrooms, such as Cremini and Shitake, stemmed and quarter
* 6 pieces - Shallots, sliced
* 1 cup - Leeks, chopped
* 4 cloves - Garlic, chopped
* 1 tablespoon - Fresh Rosemary, minced
* 2~3 tablespoons - butter
* 2 tablespoons - Extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 cup - Takara Mirin
* 2 cups - Chicken broth
* 1 teaspoon - Kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon - Black Truffle salt, plus more for sprinkling before serving
* 1 cup - Heavy cream
* 3 - Large egg
* To taste Freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup - Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spread the bread cubes out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
4. Add the mushrooms, shallots, leeks, garlic, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and brown, about 25 minutes. (If vegetables are sticking, add additional table spoon of butter.)
5. Add the Takara Mirin, and simmer until the liquid is slightly syrupy.
6. Stir in the chicken broth and salt and bring to a simmer.
7. Whisk the cream, eggs and pepper to taste, in a large bowl.
8. Combine the bread, mushroom mixture, and parsley and toss until the bread is moistened.
9. Transfer the stuffing to a buttered 1-1/2 quart baking dish.
10. Bake uncovered until the stuffing sets and to top browns, about 1 hour.
11. Sprinkle black truffle salt for taste and let stuffing sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Food Network Kitchen, “Savory Mushroom Dressing,” 2014, Television Food Network G.P., Food Network Sites, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/savory-mushroom-dressing-recipe.html
TAKARA SAKE USA INC. www.takarasake.com copyright ©2014 by Takara Sake USA Inc.
UMAMI Recipe #4:
* 1 bag (12oz) Fresh Cranberries
* ¾ cup Pure Maple Syrup (Not pancake syrup)
* ¼ cup Takara Mirin
* 1 cup Orange Juice (or any mixture of cranberry juice, orange juice, lemon juice, apple juice, etc.)
* 2 table spoons Orange zest
* 1 table spoon Lemon zest
* 1 cup Raisins and/or Mixed Currants
* Spice to taste Cinnamon, Nutmeg, All Spice
*Optional: ½ cup Roughly chopped pecans
1. Wash cranberry. Add all the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan on high heat and bring to boil.
2. After it reaches a rolling boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer it for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst and juice is thicker.
3. Remove from heat. Cool completely at the room temperature before chill in refrigerator. As it cools, cranberry sauce will thicken.
TAKARA SAKE USA INC. www.takarasake.com
Copyright ©2014 by Takara Sake USA Inc.
UMAMI Recipe #3:
Chicken Ginger Teriyaki
UMAMI Recipe #2:
Mustard Onion Sauce with Pan Roast Beef
• 2 lbs Tenderloin or Top Sirloin Beef for Roast
• 1 Medium Onion
• ½ cup Takara Mirin
• 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
• ¼ cup Sho Chiku Bai Sake Classic or Sho Chiku Bai Extra Dry
• 1 tablespoon Whole Grain Mustard
• 2 tbsp. (1tbspx2) Butter
• 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
• To Taste Salt & Pepper
Sake Pairing Suggestions: All Junmai type sake
Sho Chiku Bai Classic, Sho Chiku Bai Extra Dry, Sho Chiku Bai Tokubetsu Junmai, ShirakabeGura Tokubetsu Junmai
UMAMI Recipe Series #1: Garlic Steamed Mussels
Umami in Natto and Umami in Sake!
March 21, members of Japanese Chambers of Commerce enjoyed a very special food and sake pairing event, “Natto and Sake.” Natto is centuries old Japanese food. It is fermented soy beans, and its smelly and slimy texture are known as one of the toughest foods even for the palate of the Westerners who lived in Japan and some Japanese as well. Japanese way of eating it is normally very limited, just with soy sauce and rice. However, to a chef Tim Charleson who understands this highly nutritious and umami rich ingredient it is an exciting challenge.
Some of the menus prepared for the evening wereNatto Beef Croquette with Horseradish Cream Sauce, Potato Natto Gratin with Truffle, and Manicotti Natto Primavera with Marinara Sauce. The dishes were quite amazing and eye opening particularly for Japanese whose perception of natto was based as its reputation for strong characteristics and very limited ways of preparing it. Needless to say natto dishes paired with sake beautifully. It’s just natural to pair with Sho Chiku Bai Classic and other Junmai-type sake that are also rich with umami.
If you aren't much of a sake lover, it might be just the eye-opener you need to embrace the joys of Sake.
MIO Sparkling Sake is an adventurous alternative for the Prosecco-drinking crowd. A clear, bubbly sake, MIO Sparkling Sake has just five percent alcohol by volume and a slightly sweet flavor, making it the perfect pairing for spicy foods and desserts. It is also a great entry point for the neophyte sake drinker.
In THE TASTING PANEL’s April 2014 issue, chef Kamio of Iyasare restaurant located on Fourth street in Berkeley states, “MIO Sparkling Sake pairs ideally with the light textures and delicate flavors of the artful dish” according to chef Kamio at Iyasare in the Fourth street, Berkeley. His signature beet-cured ocean trout is one example. The gravlax-style dish composed of deeply colored slices of cured trout, earthy shaved burdock and fennel root garnished with bright flavors of yuzu and sansho has captivated local food critics. Also, a splash of MIO Sparkling Sake even finds its way on to the dessert menu in a dish of berries in ginger syrup and Cabernet-blackberry sorbet. “
Start your evening with MIO Sparikling Sake! Bubble up!!!
Other paring Possibilities:
• Uncured ham
• Camembert cheese, soft cheese
• Dried fruits
• Fresh fruits (strawberry, kiwifruit)
• Gelato (mango)
Photo by Hardy Wilson
Very Japanese & Classy
Muddle four shiso
leaves with 2 lime
2.5 oz Takara Shochu
1 grapefruit juice
0.5 simple syrup
Shake, and double
strain into a chilled
A touch of lime strengthens
the distinctive flavor of the
shiso and blends it with
the grapefruit and the
light and clean texture
of the shochu.
Cocktail by Martha Chong
Cocktail #4: Junmai Classic
Based on a Quintessential Vermouth Cocktail
2 oz Junmai
0.5 oz sweet vermouth
Stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with orange. Based on a quintessential vermouth cocktail, the Junmai sake and a touch of sweet vermouth creates a modern twist on a classic aperitif.
#3 Sour Plum
Refreshing and Delightlful Combination of Lime and Kinsen Plum
1.5 oz Takara Shochu
1 oz Kinsen plum wine
0.5 oz lime juice
0.5 simple syrup
Shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnished with lime. A surprising combination of brightly acidic lime and the richness of the Kinsen plum wine.
MIO & Plum
1.5 oz Takara Plum wine
0.75 oz dry vermouth
Shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass, top off with a splash of MIO Sparkling Sake, and garnish with a lemon. A floral and inviting combination of plum wine and dry vermouth, given an effervescent texture by a splash of sparkling sake.
Perfect Nigori cocktail – Nigori Coconut
2.5 oz Nigori
1 oz coconut water
1 oz pineapple juice
0.25 oz orgeat
Shake, double strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with orange.
Inspired by classic tropical drinks, the Nigori provides unique texture and depth when paired with the coconut and pineapple.
Sake Around The World #2 – Europe
There’s no doubt about it – sake is taking the world by storm. For many years throughout Europe, if you ordered sake, you could bet with confidence that it would be served hot, no matter the season or preference. But times have changed. Today you can practically find the entire sake gamut, from warm to chilled and from classic sake to sparkling sake, and everything in between. At a small Japanese restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany, sake is served in a fashion reminiscent of a luxurious tradition. A small transparent sake glass is placed inside of a square wooden sake cup referred to as a “kiimasu.” The host then pours cool sake into the glass until it spills over the rim and is captured in the kimasu. It is believed that in the past, this method of serving both indicated the host’s generosity and conveyed to the guests how special they were. For those of us who cannot get enough great sake, there’s no better surprise than discovering an extra helping in your kimasu after you’ve finished off all the sake in your glass!
Sake - More Brazilian Than You Know!
Sakerinha, also called Caipisake, is a sake-based version of the national drink of Brazil: the Caipirinha. The traditional recipe calls for the Brazilian liquor known as Cachaça which is distilled from sugarcane. However, perhaps owing to Brazil’s reputation for having the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, it is only natural that a sake adaptation of the cocktail has also become very popular. You can find Sakerinhas anywhere from bars and restaurants where hip younger crowds sip the drink to Brazilian jazz and pop songs, to grocery stores and supermarkets where prepackaged ready-to-drink products can be purchased for enjoyment at home and private parties. During Carnival, however, is when Sakerinha consumption reaches its peak and celebrating with food and dancing to ground-shaking samba music is the ambiance of choice.
To make a Sakerinha, place one lime cut into quarters, 1 tablespoon of sugar and crushed ice in a mug and muddle with a pestle. Lastly, add two ounces of Sho Chiku Bai Classic Sake, mix and serve. Other variations replace lime with strawberries, kiwi fruit or passion fruit.
The Tasting Panel Magazine, February 2014 issue featured
Sho Chiku Bai Rei, Junmai Ginjo Draft.
Like American Wines at the famous judgment of Paris, affordable, domestically-brewed Junmai and Junmai Ginjo Draft sake bests its pedigreed Japanese counterparts to achieve a milestone.
Learn More About TAKARA SAKE USA
Click here for a quick overview of Takara's history, sake production in action, and an introduction to our products.
Takara Sake USA Inc. is pleased to announce that Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura MIO Sparkling Sake was selected as an official celebratory drink for the award ceremony of the 37th Japan Academy Prizes (a.k.a. Japan Academy Awards) that have been awarded annually since 1978 in order to promote Japanese movies. It is the biggest award in Japan. Winners and nominees for 19 awards total will be selected from Japanese movies reliesed in 2013.
Mio Sparkling Sake will be served during the ceremony and the banquet of the celebration as well as for toasting at the reception dinner with the public audience.
The 37th Japan Academy Prize:
Date: March 7th, 2014
Place: the International Convention Center Pamir at Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa, Tokyo
Academy Prizes Hosts: Toshiyuki Nishida and Kirin Kiki
Sake Brewed in Shirakabegura Receives the Gold Award
at the Annual Japan Sake Awards for Brewing Year of 2013
- Receives the Gold Prize for the 11th Time in a Row -
Since 2003, Shirakabegua has received the Gold Prize for the 11th time in a row. Except for Shirakabegura, there are only 2 sake factories where they produce sake that have received the Gold Prize more than 11times.
The Annual Japan Sake Awards are held under the auspices of the National Research Institute of Brewing and the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association. The number of entries is limited to one entry per manufacture. Juries examine and select excellent sake as prize winners, and those recognized as the very best among the prize winning sake for gold prize winners.
This year, there were 845 sake entries from all over Japan. The preliminary examination took place from April 22nd to 24th , and the final examination took place from May 8th and 9th at the office of the National Research Institute of Brewing. As a result of the examinations, 442 sake was selected for prize winners, and 233 sake was selected for gold prize winners.
Some Major sake events this fall.
Crush & More Festival
Date: November 2, 2014 (Sun)
Place: Double tree Hotel, Berkeley-Marina (200 Marina Blvd. Berkeley, CA 94710)
Time: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
10th Annual Northern California Premium Sake Fest
Date: October 9, 2014 (Thu)
Place: Sheraton, Sacramento Downtown
Time: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Joy of Sake New York 2014
Date: September 18, 2014 (Thu)
Time: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Place: The Altman Building, 135 W 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
There are common misunderstandings about sake.
Warming sake is one of them.
- Warming Sake: A fundamental rule of serving any sake, chilled or warmed, is to understand its type. ShoChikuBai Classic is Junmai type which iswarmed, so that its rich character opens up and reveals its full flavor, making it a great sake to pair with a wide variety of foods. On the other hand Ginjo is brewed by using highly polished rice and a special type of yeast. The sake is lighter and has a clean, delicate, fruity flavor with a lingering sweetness. Ginjo type and DaiGinjo type sake should not be warmed. (more about sake type)
- ShoChikuBai has Changed the Stereotype of Warmed Sake: ShoChikuBai sake is created using both traditional craft and advanced technologies. It has changed the "inferior" stereotype of warmed sake in the U.S. ShoChikuBai Classic is both a premium quality sake, and affordable.*
- Never Overheat Sake: The serving temperature is important; 100˚-105˚F is ideal*
* ShoChikuBai Classic, brewed by Takara Sake USA Inc. was awarded the highest prize in the Junmai category of the 2011 U.S. National Sake Appraisal. Out of all 326 entries, ShoChikuBai Classic was the only sake made in the U.S. to win the Gold Award at the 2011 U.S. National Sake Appraisal.
How do you pair sake with foods?
Generally speaking, the rule of pairing of sake with foods can be best explored by considering the characteristics of the two fundamental sake types.
Junmai - type and Tokubetsu Junmai-type sake: With its full and complex flavors, enhanced by warming, Junmai-type sake is ideal with a wide variety of food, from delicate sushi to rich meat dishes. Different serving temperatures of the sake can also be tried, from slightly chilled to room temperature.
Ginjo type and DaiGinjo-type sake: Ginjo sake, produced with highly polished rice, has a clean and delicate flavor with a lingering sweetness. It is an excellent sipping drink, pairs well with light appetizers, and is sometimes enjoyed as a dessert wine. However, drinking Ginjo-type sake with dishes prepared with soy sauce or miso should be avoided. The rich Umami taste of these products will interfere with delicate Ginjo taste.
How do you warm sake?
Is Soju and Shochu the same?
Sho Chiku Bai Junmai DaiGinjo celebrates Sho Chiku Bai's 30th Anniversary
The Sho Chiku Bai DaiGinjo is the first DaiGinjo sake produced with American-harvested Yamadanishiki rice--the result of many years of trial and collaboration with American rice farmers. Its exceptionally smooth, balanced taste, with its garland of Ginjo bouquet, is worthy of the effort and the passion that went into its making—a passion reflected in Takara’s 30-year history of sake-making in the USA.
Takara Sake Unveils Its Brand New Product,
TaKaRa Can Chu-Hi "JPOP"- a Tokyo-Style Sparkling Cocktail
Chu-Hi was the first Japanese-style sparkling cocktail, appearing on the Tokyo drinking scene in the late '70s. In summer 2012, we revamped Can Chu-Hi, adding "JPOP" to the product name, and creating 2 flavors - Grapefruit and White Peach. The grapefruit flavored Can Chu-Hi is refreshing and a very popular flavor in Japan. We developed a white peach flavor for the U.S. market, which has proved to be a success.
Product Name: Takara Can Chu-Hi "JPOP"
Category: Malt Beverage
Alcoholic Content: 6.5% by volume
Gold Medal Award at the 2013 Los Angeles International
Wine & Spirits Competition
June 5, 2013 - Sho Chiku Bai Rei, Junmai Ginjo Draft brewed by Takara Sake USA Inc., was awarded the Gold Medal Award in the Junmai Ginjo category of the 2013 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition. Out of 64 entries, Sho Chiku Bai Rei was the only sake made in the U.S. to win the award.
The 74th Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition is an international annual event; one of the most prestigious in the United States. The acclaimed competition, in existence for 7 decades, is judged by a panel of experts, who blind-test entries with professionalism and integrity.
During the 2013 mid-May competition, many varietals and price ranges were represented. This was the second year of a newly developed point system which made it possible to acknowledge each varietal's special attributes and provide a new level of precision in the competition's wine-ranking system. This proved to be a benefit for the competition and wine enthusiasts. Thirteen sake brands received awards. Sho Chiku Bai Rei received 94 out of 100 points, and was the Gold Medal winner among the three brands in the Junmai Ginjo category.
October 1st is World Sake Day!
World Sake Day, also known as Sake Day, is an annual event held on October 1 as a tribute to sake, an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin made of fermented rice. October 1 is traditionally the starting date of sake production in the country.
Tatsumaki Taiko performance
Berkeley-Sakai Sister City Association presents Taiko performance to welcome our Sister City Goodwill visitors from Sakai on September 13th at Takara Sake Tasting Room.
September 13th, Saturday
Takara Sake Tasting Room
Learn more about Tatsumaki Taiko at http://users.lmi.net/taikousa/TS_homepage.html , and the Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TatsumakiTaiko/timeline?ref=page_internal
Show: International Wine, Spirits, and Beer Event (IWSB)
The International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event brings restaurant and hospitality industry buyers together with hundreds of established and emerging labels to connect and uncover ways that beverage alcohol can enhance menus and drive profitability.
Sake Around the World #3 - London
Sake Cocktail at Ping Pong, a London-based dim-sum restaurant.
When it comes to the drinking culture in England, chances are you imagine pubs and bars with Victorian era deco, that are so crowded that patrons spill out onto the sidewalks, where they huddle and gulp down an endless selection of lagers and ales. That is indeed an undisputed, if exaggerated, tradition in the UK that thankfully shows no signs of tiring. But there is room for more than just beer in this metropolis many fondly refer to as London Town, and Sake is its name!
How sake came to coexist so harmoniously in a land that takes pride in its brews has a lot to do with the immense popularity of Japanese food. But sake’s versatility also plays a formidable role. Take for example a dim-sum restaurant in London, called Ping Pong Restaurant. This chain of several branches throughout London features some of the most visually appealing and delicious sake cocktails being served anywhere today. To top it off, they are served with an array of dim-sum, making for an undeniably fun pairing! Selections include profound fusions of Takara Sake USA’s Hana Flavored Sake mixed with juices, herbs, MIO Sparkling Sake and more.
From the aesthetically appealing skewered fruit garnishes to the delectable cocktails on which they are skillfully appended, innovation and artistry abound. It’s no mystery why sake continues to amass fans the world over.
UMAMI Recipe #6:
Scallops with Citrus Sauce
• 1½ lbs. – Sea Scallops (Medium)
• ¼ teaspoon – Sea Salt
• 2 teaspoons – Sesame Oil
• 4 stalks – Green Onion
• ¼ cup – Takara Mirin
• ¼ cup – Fresh Orange Juice
• 2 tablespoons – Lemon Juice
• 2 tablespoons – Soy Sauce
• ½ teaspoon – Fresh Ginger, Grated
• ½ teaspoon – Red Pepper Flakes
• 1 teaspoon – Cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon – Water
TAKARA SAKE USA INC. www.takarasake.com copyright ©2014 by Takara Sake USA Inc.
Two Holiday Best
Two tawny elixirs representing a centuries-old tradition. The taste of fresh and delicately sweet plum, with a long subtle finish, make Kinsen Plum and Takara Plum perfect as aperitifs, dessert wines and cocktails. Two of the best choices for celebrations this season, or as gifts for the Holidays!
Try a Refreshing Plum Spritzer!