japanese rice wine

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Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice. However, unlike true wine, in which alcohol is produced by fermenting the sugar naturally present in fruit, sake is made through a brewing process more like that of beer. To make beer or sake, the sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from starch. But the brewing process for sake differs from beer brewing as well, notably in that for beer, the conversion of starch to sugar and sugar to alcohol occurs in two discrete steps, but with sake they occur simultaneously. Additionally, alcohol content also differs between sake, wine, and beer. Wine generally contains 9-16% alcohol and most beer is 3-8%, whereas undiluted sake is 18-20% alcohol, although this is often lowered to around 15% by diluting the sake with water prior to bottling. Sake is usually drunk from small cups called choko and poured into the choko from ceramic flasks called tokkuri.

How to select

Look for rice wines with an alcohol content of 17.5 percent. If unavailable, a good quality pale dry sherry makes an acceptable substitute. Dry sherry is preferable to sake (the Japanese rice wine) which has a sweeter flavor than Chinese rice wines. Avoid using the "cooking liquor" or "cooking wine" that is available at regular supermarkets as a substitute for rice wine unless absolutely necessary - these have a lower alcohol content and do not have the same flavor as rice wine.

Culinary uses

· In Japan sake is served chilled, at room temperature, or heated, depending on the preference of the drinker, the quality of the sake, and the season. Typically, hot sake is a winter drink, and high-grade sake is not drunk hot, because the flavors and aromas will be lost. This masking of flavor is the reason that low-quality sake is often served hot.
· Japanese rice wine is surprisingly versatile as a Cocktail ingredient. Aside from being served straight, sake can be used as a mixer for cocktails, such as tamagozake, saketinis, nogasake, or the sake bomb
· In cooking, rice wine is frequently used in sauces to add flavor, and as the acidic ingredient in marinades
· Rice wine is used for Japanese delicacies like Drunken chicken, pork dumplings seasoned with rice wine, steamed fish and cut chicken preparations.
· On the New Year many Japanese people drink a special sake called toso. Toso is a sort of iwai-zake made by soaking tososan, a Chinese powdered medicine, overnight in sake. Even children sip a portion.

How to store

In general, it is best to keep sake refrigerated in a cool or dark room, as prolonged exposure to heat or direct light will lead to spoilage. Sake stored at room temperature is best consumed within a few months after purchase. After opening the bottle of sake, it is best consumed within 2 or 3 days. It is possible to store in the refrigerator, but it is recommended to finish the sake within 2 days. This is because once premium sake is opened, it begins to oxidize which affects the taste. If the sake is kept in the refrigerator for more than 3 days, it will lose its "best" flavor.

Health benefits

· Japanese Rice wine contains approximately 20 kinds of amino acids, and these are the components that affect the Umami (flavor) and fragrance of the saké. These components help to improve immune system and activate brain function.
· Rice wine is known to improve liver functions, increase good cholesterol and prevent osteoporosis.

Glycemic index

Moderate (between 55 to 70)

Related Links

Chinese rice wine
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