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Sake of the week #036: Juji Asahi Orochi no Mai 15BY

Last weekend Et-chan was busy, so it was my turn to get into the kitchen. I already had to go out and run some errands, so as long as I was in the neighborhood I decided to go back to Nissin Delicatessen for supplies. I knew I wanted some fennel to roast with other vegetables–the season demanded it. But, what else to cook? I felt inspired by Rick and Hiroko’s recent tweet of a pairing of nihonshu with rabbit sausage and hoped I could find something equally exciting at the Nisshin deli counter.

They’ve been known to carry various interesting items and they definitely have good meat. Unfortunately, while the pastrami looked good, the sausage was fairly middle of the road this time–mainly pork and beef. No black pudding either. Lamb chops didn’t grab me, so I looked over in the refrigerated case in the corner, a kind of island of misfit meats. Everything here was just simply packed up and on sale. It looks like someone got a really good rate on pork tenderloin steaks, so I picked up a pack of three for less than ¥816. Score!

Back home, I started a pot of polenta going and layered some in a dish with gorgonzola to finish in the toaster oven. Then, I put the fennel, carrots, kabu, leeks, daikon, and onion in the roaster to get started. Two of the pork steaks got a little black pepper but that was about it before a searing in the pan and then deglazing with calvados and Heering cherry liqueur. The steaks went in the roaster with all the juices and some bits of dried fig too.

At this point I had posed myself a problem without giving it any thought. What sake was going to go with a roasted dinner like this?

Nothing in the fridge looked right. You sometimes get an anise flavor with some sake, but I definitely didn’t want that kind of flavor or a daiginjo on top of this. I turned to the living room as Et-chan called out for Juji Asahi and she was right, but which one? [Note: See SOTW #013, SOTW #020, and here for more on the Juji Asahi we like so much.]

I saved the Yamadanishiki 12BY and 17 BY and went for the Koshihikari 15BY Orochi no Mai. We’ve commented before on the slow magic that happens at Asahi Shuzo as they let their sake age on the tank. This one was brewed in Heisei 15 (2003-2004 brewing season) and then we picked it up in March 2008 and it has waited patiently ever since. This was just the right match. I got a little carried away.

Right away the golden apple color was impressive and a quick taste with dinner confirmed the choice, but rather than keep on sipping we knew this one needed to be heated up.

The sweetness of the roasted onion and some kabu with this sake heated to just over 51C made a great combination for me, although Et-chan preferred the slightly cooler nurukan. Later, Et-chan said the kanzamashi with the fennel was “like candy”. Or as I thouhgt at the time, “If you have a sake that can stand up to cold roasted fennel, the you got something.” Gorgonzola, fennel, and this sake were a great combination.

But, no time for a big roasted dinner? This one is like a chameleon that adapts to its surroundings. Good with strong foods, but also very tasty to just sip all on its own like a sherry. I guess we have to get back to Izumo to pick up another bottle.

Dinner is served

Dinner is served


2 Responses to “Sake of the week #036: Juji Asahi Orochi no Mai 15BY”

  1. Our secret TV dinner is out! That was good dinner, thanks, Te-chan.

    Posted by Et-chan | December 20, 2009, 9:47 pm
  2. Amazing, simply amazing.

    Posted by Tyler | December 21, 2009, 5:09 am

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