When Japanese sake meets Western steak, can you predict the outcome? Will it turn out to be a happy marriage? Or, on the contrary, a fatal attraction? I witnessed the encounter four days ago…
Friend of mine hosted a barbeque party at his backyard. Guests were all his buddies, and I was one of them. Apparently spouses of the guests’ were invited. I love speed, I love alcohol, and I am also a meat-lover; so backyard barbeque is always one of my favourite summer activities. As I received the invitation one week prior to the BBQ date, I had enough time to shop at LCBO for a good sake for this party. And then, I bumped into Nanbu Bijin’s award winning Honjozo, the Gold Medal winner in the Honjozo Category at 2016 IWC, at LCBO last week. (Please read this blog for detail: Love at first sight) I immediately realized that Naonbu Bijin’s Honjozo would be perfect for BBQ.
The party host is not a professional chef, yet he is gifted in cooking. He prepared seven T-bone steaks each weighed 20oz for men, and five Sirloin steaks each 14oz for ladies. All steaks had to be tenderized before they were grilled on stove; and for this purpose, they had been soaked in the host’s own blend of garlic mince and olive oil for two hours before cooking. Besides steaks, there were chicken wings, corns, boiled vegetable and summer fruits served as side dishes. Two gas barbecue stoves were used to grill the food.
I prefer to eat steak rare since it tastes softer and juicier that way. After my steak had been grilled for a few minutes, it’s almost ready to be served. The chef added a generous sprinkle of salt and black pepper to the surface of it, then it was taken to the table. The scent released from this nicely cooked meat instantly traveled through my nose into my system, and soon transferred to an irresistible temptation.
Stopped!!!! A loud voice shouted out “stop” in my head. I had to cease myself from picking up the knife and fork to consume the steak in front of me because my award-winning Honjozo had not been opened yet. As I had to take pictures of the party, a friend’s wife opened the sake bottle, and poured the liquid into glass for me. This Honjozo was clear and a pale yellow in appearance. It’s fruity aroma was not as intensive as the premium sake; nevertheless, the sweet rice aroma was retained. Since the rice used for brewing this Honjozo was milled down to 60%, I could taste the cereal and walnut flavours in mouth after my first sip. It also had a beautiful aftertaste. I would say the Dassai 50 I previously drank was like a cute beautiful young lady, then this Honjozo should be described as a true gentleman.
The Sake Meter Value (SMV) of this Honjozo was +5, and its acidity level was 1.3; hence it was expected to have notes of spices. However I did not taste any, even though it was chilled in fringe before being brought over to the party. And Surprisingly, I could find a light sugar sweetness in it. After the Honjozo was paired with my 14oz Sirloin steak, its taste had undergone substantial changes that the sweetness got even sweeter and richer. I absolutely agreed that Honjozo was the best companion of savoury foods. I believed this drink’s bold sweet flavour spreading through my mouth after a bite of the steak was because I salted the meat with Salamoia Bolognese, the Italian sea salt with herbs. Salt had some interesting effects on sake. After it had been added on food and eaten with sake, the sweetness could be extracted from a sake, and the beverage seemed to be more fruity. At this point, I could conclude that this award-winning Honjozo had a happy marriage with Sirloin steak. The “Interracial Marriage” between Japanese rice wine and traditional Western cuisine worked out nicely.
One of the friends at the party said, before this evening, he never heard of pairing sake with steaks. But when he took a sip of Honjozo after a bite of steak, he felt a miracle happened in his palate, and he was stunned by this wonderful experience. Likewise, other guests were also overwhelmed with their terrific sake tasting experiences.
Tasting Summary : Nanbu Bijin Honjozo