For almost 1.5 years now, I have the privilege to be a wine blogger for TheLocalNose.com. It was truly a gift that keeps on giving from The Universe. For my Facebook friends, my overjoyed sights and shout-outs from drinking events and outings, made me being coined as someone “spiritual”. Yes, in this case the “spirits” are referring to the alcoholic beverages. Hey, I’m in the industry, I am glad to flaunt my “spiritual” side anytime.
The Universe has recently opened up a new door for me knowing I do not discriminate my “spirits”, I have been recently invited to a sake tasting event with Sake Master Kan Otsuka, the current and 19th generation descendant of the renowned Nabedana brewery from Narita City. In this event, Sake Master Kan Otsuka brought us the legendary Fudoh (不動) sake, the sacred sake for Buddha offered at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, one of the three biggest temples in eastern Japan. Fudoh which means The Immovable, was derived from one of the guardian deity to Buddha by the name of Fudō Myō-ō (不動明王). Yes, Fudoh sake is offered with great honour to those who make pilgrimages to the temple.
|Sake Master Kan Otsuka with the Chef of Ginza Kuroson|
Nabedana brewery is one of the oldest breweries in Japan since 1689. Can you imagine a family business that has been around for 325 years? If you do get to taste their sake, you are tasting a part of history that is still alive. However, what makes Fudoh unique is their openness to embrace something new without losing its heritage. Fudoh keeps recreating themselves and that is through the use of new local variety rice called “Sake Komachi” instead of the king of sake rice – “Yamadanishiki”. This new variety infuses the rich, intense and yet elegant touch to the sake.
Sake Master Kan Otsuka (who approved my Facebook friend request, yay!) introduced us to the process of sake brewing which involves 8 steps (for more details, you may refer to this link):
- Rice polishing: The finer the rice, the more it is milled away, the softer the taste on the palate.
- Rice washing and steeping
- Rice steaming
- Koji making
- Shubo (Fermentation Starter): +/- 2 weeks
- Moromi (Final Culture): +/- 4 weeks
- Pasteurization and storage: At least 6 months before bottling.
Sake, like any other alcohol, and like any other good things in life, needs lots of patience. I was however, very impatient to taste the sake. Finally, Sake Master Kan Otsuka introduced us to 4 sakes:
- Fudoh Special Junmai
Made from Miyamanishiki rice, polished to 60% it has relatively high acidity level (Acidity: 1.6) and relatively dry (Dryness: +3). It was a great opening that paired well with fish such as tuna, mackarel and kare. Truly refreshing and easy going that you can serve it cold or hot.
- Fudoh Junmai GinjoMade from Sakekomachi rice variety. Polished to 55%, acidity level of 1.5 and dryness +2 (lesser than Fudoh Special Junmai) however it has a more intense taste than Fudoh Special Junmai, which made it suitable to be paired with sushi, tempura, yakitori, shabu shabu, raw sliced red fish, etc.
- Fudoh Junmai DaiginjoIt has all the same specifications as Fudoh Junmai Ginjo except the RPR (Rice Polishing Ratio) – instead of 55%, it is 50%. That 5% really plays a big part in the texture and smoothness of the sake. Recommended to be paired with sushi or raw sliced white fish.
- Fudoh Ginjo Nigori (Unfiltered)
Made from Fusakogane rice grown in Chiba perfecture. Polished to 60%, acidity level of 1.2 and dryness +3. Notice the milkier colour, it is because this sake is purposely made unfiltered. Hence, it has a little bit of powdery texture to it as if you are drinking soya milk with alcohol. The unfiltered sake is a very seasonal and usually consumed during celebrations such as New Year. It has to be drunk really fresh and paired well with Korean BBQ (yes, surprisingly), hot pot and rich tasty appetizer.
Lastly, this experience will not be complete without the delicious food by Ginza Kuroson (Address: 30 Robertson Quay, 238251 Phone: 6737 5547). My favourite dish was the flatfish and the restaurant was kind enough to show us how this fish actually looks like too …. it is indeed … flat. -_-“
This “spiritual” experience has truly been really rewarding. Thank you, Sake Master Kan Otsuka for the sharing a part of your heritage to Singapore. You’re so cool that I’m so impressed to know you are quite an active user of Facebook! Thank you, Beam Suntory for bringing Fudoh Sake to Singapore. Thank you, Heat Branding for the wonderful event and ultimately, thank you, Universe for the experience that made my life so abundant.