While reading this New York Times article about the drive to raise sake sales by suggesting pairings with Western food, I was reminded of reading Oishinbo a la Carte: Sake. That volume talks about how well sake pairs with seafood; so does this article.
“Sake is surprisingly versatile,” [said Kensuke Shichida, the head of a centuries-old sake brewery in southern Japan]. “I’ve discovered it goes well with many Western recipes, perhaps even better than wine or beer.”
Fresh oysters, for example, usually go well with Champagne or Chablis, which have a crisp acidity. But Mr. Shichida, who runs the 140-year-old Tenzan brewery, says sake works better. The drink is mellower and less acidic, and its cleansing properties help remove the oysters’ briny taste, he said. And sake’s umami — a savory sensation considered to be the “fifth taste” — helps improve their fleshiness….
Sake consumption has fallen sharply in Japan since the 1970s because of a decreasing birthrate and a switch by many drinkers to wine, much of it imported, or other domestic drinks like beer, whiskey, or shochu, a Japanese spirit. Japan exported 5,000 tons of sake in 2012, but mostly to Japanese restaurants, limiting its audience….
For all the gambling on foreign sales, brewers say they have one ultimate aim: bringing sake back in Japan as well.
“If we’re able to tell the Japanese, ‘Look how much foreigners are enjoying sake,’ that would give them an opportunity to rediscover sake and revive demand,” Mr. Shichida said. “We don’t want our culture to disappear. We really don’t.”