Skip to main content

Food and Sake Pairings that aren’t Traditional Japanese Dishes

sake cocktails
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Ask 10 people about what they would pair with sake and, unless you’ve got someone who has spent a good deal of time drinking the stuff, it’s almost a sure bet that they’re all going to same the same thing: Japanese food. To be even more specific, they’ll probably all say what you’re also thinking right now: sushi.

There’s nothing wrong with that — most of us have only had sake when it has been served alongside sushi. This sake pairing is delicious, but we wanted to know if there was anything else we could marry with this Japanese wine to make a tasty meal. In order to find out, we sat down with Paul Englert, director of marketing for SakéOne, an Oregon-based sake brewery that has been creating premium sakes for over 20 years.

“Sake is really all about collaboration with food,” says Englert. Because of the low acidity and lack of tannins (compared to wine), Englert says, sake “tends to allow the food to be the food.”

This is beneficial overall because it helps to create harmony between drink and meal. “It’s really hard to make a mistake with sake,” he says.

With that in mind, we asked him what he thought would make some great sake and food pairings.

Futsu (Table Sake) with Mushroom Risotto

mushroom risotto
Photo by Katrin Gilger Photo by Katrin Gilger

“There’s an earthiness in the sake that goes really well with a mushroom risotto,” he says. “The table sake doesn’t fight with umami; it tends to complement it. Other Italian meals that also have those umami flavors going on also go really well with table sake.”

Junmai Ginjo Sake with Burritos

Photo by Sodanie Chea Photo by Sodanie Chea

“There is a little more elegance in Junmai Ginjo (compared to the table sake), but it still retains freshness and texture,” he says. “This makes it go really well with foods with a little bit of spice, as you’ll see in some Mexican dishes.”

Nama-Chozo (Draft Sake) with Hot Dogs

hot dog
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“This may sound like an unconventional pairing, but because draft sake is only pasteurized once (compared to twice with other sakes), it has refreshing quality that can easily replace an amber lager or another type of beer that you’d have at a cookout.”

Junmai Ginjo with Fried Chicken

Pj Aun / Shutterstock

“You want a Junmai Gingo for this pairing because of the umami and the richness and saltiness in the fried chicken. If you go too delicate in your sake (such as a Daiginjo), it would be overwhelmed.

Sparkling Sake with Popcorn

Image used with permission by copyright holder

“The light, refreshing bubbles in a sparkling sake go really well with popcorn, as they complement the light butter and salt flavors. The carbonation, too, helps this pairing excel.”

Nigori Sake with Chocolate Bundt Cake

sake pairing
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“All sake tends to have a slightly sweet taste, but Nigori sake, because of process through which is made and the eventual texture, there tends to be a perception of sweetness. This means it works really well as a dessert pairing. You just want to make sure your cake is not frosted — instead pour the Nigori over the cake!”

Editors' Recommendations

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
A beginner’s guide to Burmese cuisine
Plus, a recipe to make the national dish
Tofu dish from Top Burmese in Portland, Oregon

When it comes to Asian cuisine, there are several heavyweights. Chinese, Japanese cuisine, and Thai jump to mind, three major cooking styles that have crossed many oceans and created solid footings abroad. But what of the smaller nations and their unique culinary customs?
Burma is one of those Asian countries, roughly the size of Texas and wedged between Bangladesh to the west and Thailand and Laos to the east. It’s important to note that the nation also goes by the Myanmar name, depending on who you ask. Political turmoil over the last several decades has seen not only a tug-of-war regarding its national title but also a struggle to define itself. Generations of British colonialism faded into brutal military rule and several uprisings.
This is the land of large pythons and precious stones. Some 90% of the globe’s rubies come from Burma. Rice is Burma’s biggest export and the landscape is dramatic, with towering mountain ranges, verdant jungles, and incredible old towers from bygone civilizations. Some 100 ethnic groups call Burma home, making the population of more than 53 million extremely diverse.
With tons of coastline, thanks to the adjacent Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, Burma cuisine is unsurprisingly driven by seafood. This is the land of fish sauce and dried prawns. The national dish is mohinga, a breakfast dish made with rice noodles and fish soup. Inland, there's more in the way of pork and beef and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Local Burmese restaurant in the U.S.

Read more
How to build the perfect charcuterie board for your date night
Check out these charcuterie board ideas to top off your evening
Charcuterie board and glasses of wine on a wooden table

The art of the charcuterie board goes far beyond the fancy ones you’ve seen on your screen. These Instagram-worthy adult Lunchables have ancient origins and meticulous methods that make them an even more appealing option for your dinner party. From the authentic to the adventurous, here’s how to take a pedestrian cheese plate and turn it into sensational charcuterie.
How to make a charcuterie board

Charcuterie boards should offer an array of flavors and textures that offer contrasting and complementing tastes in each bite. How the board elements are displayed is quintessential to its allure, but there are no specific rules to follow. Be as whimsical as you wish, playing with colors and layers, adding as much or as little as you think your guests will enjoy.

Read more
The best hiking snacks to fuel your time on the trail
Consider these foods to have with you on your hike
Man eating a hiking snack

Warmer weather is here, and it's finally time to dust off the hiking gear that’s been hibernating in the back of your closet all winter, and make some hiking snacks that will get you ready to hit the trails. From getting fresh air and exercise to enjoying scenic vistas, hiking is one of the best ways to get outdoors and enjoy nature. But, whether you're taking on one of the most physically challenging hikes in the U.S. or embarking on a short and simple day hike, it's important to be prepared with the right equipment -- and that includes the best hiking snacks. 

If you're keeping your hike relatively short, there's no need to reach for the dehydrated meals. What you do want are snacks that won’t spoil, don’t take up a ton of space in your backpack, and help you stay energized and feel good all day long. That means you'll want a mix of carbohydrates and protein, both of which your body needs to perform at its best during the hike and recover properly once you're done.

Read more