Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, June 20, 2001



Sake with a bit
of bounce is right
for skipjack tuna

Spring is the time of year when a young man's fancy turns to katsuo tataki. As warm weather arrives, large schools of skipjack tuna visit Hawaii's waters, pushing the local catch to more than 500 tons a year. Most of the fish are caught between April and September, when this full-flavored mini-member of the tuna family shows up in fish stalls and supermarkets for as low as a dollar a pound.

Sear the outside of the skinned fillets for a minute, plunge them into cold water, then slice them sashimi-style. Add ginger and shoyu, ponzu sauce, maybe garlic, too, and lots of green onion. It looks great on the plate -- but before diving in, let's pause a moment to consider a sake selection.

What's needed here is a clean, fresh-tasting sake with a little bounce. Something with a fruity bouquet and a crisp finish. Whether ensconced at the sushi counter at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar or waiting in worshipful anticipation for Kyoya's legendary katsuo tataki to appear, it's a clear choice: Nothing beats Dewasansan with fresh summer fish from Hawaiian waters.

Unlike the more robust junmai sakes that age through the summer to be released in the fall, the light, aromatic Dewasansan wants only three or four months of settling before it's ready to ship and drink. Sake brewed in February is ready to enjoy now with the spicy, clean-tasting foods we so enjoy during the summer. It can be served cooled, or even chilled, straight from the refrigerator.

Dewasansan is a premium ginjo sake, with a rice-polishing ratio of 50 percent, and commands a good price in Japan (the Dewazakura brewery won a gold medal in this year's National Sake Competition held in Hiroshima). In Hawaii it runs for about $28 a bottle (it's available at Fujioka's Wine Merchants).

Sake Value: Dewazakura 'Oka' in the 300-millileter bottle is available for about $11. It's quite light, with a piquant floral aroma that appeals to women as well as men.

Chris Pearce is a founding director of the International Sake Association. He leads a series of sake tastings (katsuo tataki included) tomorrow, June 28 and July 5 at Fujioka's Wine Merchants. Cost is $35. Call 739-9463. He also teaches a University of Hawaii course, Intermediate Sake Appreciation, June 27 at Furusato Japanese restaurant. Cost is $65. Call 956-8244.

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