Sake (Recipe: roasted salmon teriyaki)
A delicious variation on a classic teriyaki sauce, in a favorite post updated with new photos and links. Add this cucumber salad to complete your bento box. Bento Week, Day Three.
Blue cheese, vinegar, wine, yogurt, fish sauce, yeast breads, sake.
If modern government-regulated food storage requirements of today had been in place hundreds of years ago, we'd have none of these products, because all are the result of storage mishaps.
Thank goodness for accidents, for food left out of refrigeration too long, left in a barrel for too many months, left out in the sun or in a dark cellar, or carried through the desert in hot saddle bags on a camel's back.
Sake (pronounced SAH kay) most assuredly resulted from one of those fermentation accidents; somewhere in Japan, as early as the 3rd Century AD, some rice got wet and sat around, and turned into something drinkable.
The process for making sake today is a bit more controlled. Fermented from rice and water, sometimes aided by the action of koji (a fungus enzyme) and yeast, sake is brewed (like beer), without carbonation (like wine) or distillation (like spirits). In Japan there are at least 65 varieties of rice that are used for making sake. Generally the final product contains 15-17 percent alcohol.
Sake is not aged beyond six months, and is made to be consumed soon after purchase. Stored in the refrigerator, or in a cool, dark part of your pantry, sake will last 6-12 months. Once opened, it really does need to be refrigerated. After 12 months, throw it away; it will not turn into something cool like sake vinegar.
There are various types of sake, and more than 800 breweries in Japan alone, so how do you choose a good one? Go to your local liquor store; you'll be able to find a drinkable American-made sake (the Gekkeikan company brews in California), that is quite affordable and perfect for cooking.
Sake adds sweetness to poached Asian pears, wasabi white chocolate cupcakes, poached sea bass in parchment, Japanese inspired quinoa, sangria, and wasabi risotto with daikon and pickled ginger. Use sake plus a pinch of sugar as a substitute for mirin, too.
Roasted salmon teriyaki
There are dozens of variations on a basic teriyaki glaze. This one works well on chicken or other white fish (like cod or halibut), too. Serves 8.
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tsp canola oil
1-1/2 lbs salmon fillet (skin removed; your fishmonger will do this for you)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Combine soy, sake, agave, orange juice, garlic and ginger in a glass measuring cup. Whisk together, and set aside.
In a deep, oven-proof 10x15-inch (approximately) roasting pan, pour the canola oil, and brush to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Cut the salmon into 8 portions, and place, skin side down, in the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper on the top.
Place the pan on the stove top over medium heat, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom side begins to brown. Pour the sauce all around the fish, and bring to a boil. Remove pan from the stove top and place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, basting the top of the fish with the sauce two or three times.
Remove from the oven, and remove fish from the pan onto a platter. Place the roasting pan over two burners, and turn the heat to high. Stirring constantly, cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce is reduced to a slightly thickened glaze but does not burn. Paint the glaze over the fish, and serve.