Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

What is Cooking Sake?

An important ingredient

Cooking sake is one of the most important Japanese ingredients to use in Japanese dishes. If you donft know what sake is.. here is a brief explanation for you. Sake is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin that is made from fermented rice. Some people may call it erice winef. Sake is a very famous and popular Japanese alcohol, and it is made of 55% pure polished rice. It has the sweetness of the rice and it is flavorsome so that some people may not like the strong taste but some people enjoy the delicate aromas and refined flavours of the rice. Sake is actually made from simple ingredients like so many of the wonderful ingredients to come from Japan that are used so commonly nowadays. Basically, there are mainly three ingredients which are rice, water and koji mould.


Have you heard about Koji before? When you search about Japanese ingredients, you probably see the word eKojif for Miso which is used for Miso soup (a very popular Japanese soup!). Koji is a steamed rice that has some koji bacteria, and has been inoculated with a fermentation culture, Aspergillus oryzae. This koji is actually in quite a few Japanese ingredients like Miso, Mirin (sugar cooking sake) and Shoyu (soy sauce).. Koji is now famous for its health benefits, as an example, the fermentation of soybeans using koji which is in Miso supposedly increases the level of isoflavones and that is effective for preventing various forms of cancer. There are a lot of health benefits in koji being discussed these days. Even in Japan, koji has been such a big market that people try to make it themselves.. it just adds a nice flavour to dishes and itfs good for you, they say.


Cooking sake helps the body to produce digestive fluids that the stomach needs. Another important health benefit is that it helps to maintain our digestive systems because of the good bacterias in it. The key to its health benefits is in the process of fermentation which it goes through. Just like with other foods that are fermented like natto and miso, it contains very large concentrations of bacteria that actually help the digestive tract in our stomach. It is fantastic for this reason as it really does help digestion of food, helping to maintain our stomachs and also making our immune system stronger. The good points donft just stop there though. It contains lots of antioxidants, antioxidants are very important for removing free radicals from our bodies. Free radicals are believed to be linked to diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and also aging. It is believed that the antioxidants in cooking sake actually work to slow down the growth of and spreading of cancerous cells in the body.


Ok, going back to cooking sake talk. Sake is for drinking but cooking sake is literally for cooking. Can we drink cooking sake?? Well, yes, you can...but it will not be nice as some salt has been added and vinegar too. Because of the tax on the alcohol in Japan, they donft want to put cooking sake in the alcohol category as consumers will have to pay more for the product, so they make it as an ingredient. You can have a go but please make sure to drink enough water afterwards due to the saltiness.. The alcohol level is 13 to 14% so it is similar to white wine. Just like you guys use wine for cooking, cooking sake is the same especially for seafoods, it gives a great interesting flavour that you must try! Just a little note before buying cooking sake, there is another sake ingredient called Mirin, mirin has alcohol in it too but itfs Shochu (Japanese traditional hard liquor) and has sugar and some other things added in. So if you want sake flavour you canft really use Mirin. However, if you donft have mirin but you have cooking sake..you could add some sugar in cooking sake and use it as a mirin, it will not be quite the same of course but it should work! Or, if you have sake but not cooking sake, you can totally use sake for your dish but please donft put too much in and add some salt and vinegar to make the taste right..

Versatility, you bet!

Here are the ways of using cooking sake. So many!!!


Fry: For both fish and meat (steak etc) - just before frying you pour some cooking sake on it then it removes fishy meaty smell off and makes it more tender. (probably the same as other alcohols like beer or wine)


Simmer: For vegetable nimono (Japanese traditional simmered dish) - it gives gUmamih (a pleasant savory taste) in food and make the vegetables kind of solid so that they donft fall apart in the pot when boiling.


Boil: Boil your favourite seafood and vegetables together with cooking sake to produce a flavoursome result


Knead: Add in some cooking sake with your bread mix and meat patty mix - it gives the texture a thick and tender but smooth consistency


Deep fry: Use some in the batter or with breadcrumbs - it will be crunchy and stop the oil from the oxidizing


Boil Cook: For rice - the rice will be very shiny and because of the effect of amino acids, the taste will still be delicious when the rice is cooled.


What do you think? Cooking sake is very useful right? There are so many ways to use it, the great thing is that however we use it, it will add flavour and give the meal added health benefits. If you put too much salt on steak when frying and you want to try something healthier, you could put a little cooking sake on it, then it can ease the saltiness some how too. Do not drink it, remember, cooking sake is made only for cooking and due to avoiding the sake tax they added a lot of salt and vinegar inc so be careful.