Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sake Sunday . . . ?

Sake Anyone . . . ?

Sunday Sake, Spice and Sushi

I went to a Sake, Sushi and Spice Class at the Las Vegas Lake Resort.


Everyone likes to have a little color. Some people pay a lot of money to get spray-on tans or to fake-n-bake. I should know because I never get more than dark-white, no matter how much time I spend in the sun.

Well, your chicken needs a little color too. One of Chef Adam’s quick tips was to use paprika and tumeric to color your chicken-before you roast it. He said if you rub these spices on the skin of your chicken, it will give it a beautiful yellowish-red color, and no one likes to look at the pasty-white appearance of an untanned chicken. Plus, it will add a little flavor.

Taking a class with a wonderful Chef who taught us tricks, tips and helpful hints was a lot of fun.

I’m not an adventurous eater by any means. My husband, on the other hand, will eat just about anything – but then maybe that’s one of the reasons we’ve been married for over 26 years. I’m not a daring cook either. But after taking this class, I’m going to try a few new things and put my life-long learning to the test.

One of the areas I’ve never been too daring about is using spice, there’s a reason people say variety is the spice of life, so I’m going to try living a little by adding some spice to my love affair . . . with food. Chef Adam had a list of must-have spices that he handed out. These were pretty common spices like salt, pepper, garlic and cinnamon. But he added some unusual spices to his “Must-Have” list and then he let us take a taste-test. I asked him where we could find spices like Ras A-Hanout, Harissa, Za’atar, and Berbere.

He said you probably won’t find them at your local grocery food store but some of the organic markets will have them on hand, like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and New Seasons.

I don’t know that I ever would have run out and bought these spices without tasting them first because spices can be expensive and if you don’t like them, you’re money is going to go to waste.

A few of his quick tips to Spice Up Your Life:

• Grind fresh herbs and spices to give your food a more robust flavor.
• Roast your spices before grinding them.
• Freshly ground spices will last about six months before losing their flavor
• Spices can turn bitter if cooked too long – so patience is a key in cooking with spice. Don’t add spices to your meal until it is at least half-way done.
• Dried spices are stronger than fresh herbs – so be careful when you add them to your dishes.
• Don’t use more than 3 new spices at one time – at least until you get used to them, otherwise you might be overpowered with the aromas, flavors and spice.


If you’re like me, you might be afraid to order a drink because you have a few questions first, like:

• How do you even say the word . . . ?
• Is it a beer, a wine or a spirit?
• What is the actual alcohol content?
• Is it served hot or cold?

And you might even have a few more of your own.

Well, first, Sake is properly pronounced “sah-kay”. But people in different countries might argue and as long as you have a drink in your hand, who really cares whether you say toe-mot-oh or toe-mate-oh . . . ? It still tastes the same.

Next, it is hard to define what sake is although it isn’t a distilled spirit like vodka. Sake is made like beer, from starchy substances, rather than like wine and created from fruit. Sake is made from grain. But unlike beer, sake is never carbonated. So, sake is a fermented drink but that doesn’t make it sound too good. Oh well. . . cheers.

Sake is strong in alcohol content: 14 to 16% compared to beer at 4 to 6% and wine at 8 to 14%. So be careful.

And it is served both hot and cold depending on the type of sake. Premium ginjo along with super-premium daiginjo sake should be chilled to about 44 degrees. Standard sake and Honjozo can be served chilled either way but should not be heated above 130 degrees or the flavor will be lost.


Let me leave you with some pictures:


Ello said...

me in a big puddle of saliva right now. looks so good!

sake is too strong for me! Unless it is mixed! The sake bar near me does this blue sake drink like a hurricane but much tastier. That's about the only way I touch the stuff.

Christina Farley said...

Looks fab! Yum. When we were in Japan, we bought some sake back to friends here in the US. We thought they'd get a kick out of it.

Great advice though on the spices!