Skip to comments.Is Saké Chinese or Japanese?
Posted on 12/03/2012 5:57:40 PM PST by nickcarraway
Saké is a drink that comes mainly from fermented rice. But to start talking about this drink that so popular in Asia, we must go back to the first recipes in the history of saké.
It is said that the first saké was called kuchikama no saké, which means mouth-brewed saké. It was called so because it was prepared with chewing rice mixed with herbs, like chestnuts, millet, and acorns. All this was spit-chewed and then the whole mixture was put in a barrel.
Although the procedure seems unappetizing, it was done because thanks to the enzymes in saliva, rice starch could be converted into sugar, thus ensuring that all the ingredients were a sugary mixture. Then they added freshly cooked rice and let it ferment naturally. Back then, saké was a drink that did not have a high alcohol content and was preferably consumed as a mush.
The birth of saké is very controversial and there is no actual documentation about its history. There are only theories about how it was created, and even today no one disputes that it is Japanese, although there are indications that it could have Chinese origins.
The theory of a Chinese origin of saké suggests that a rice fermentation process began to be used throughout the Yangtze around 4,800 B.C., and then that this method was later incorporated in Japan.
Another theory that refutes the Japanese origin of saké is that Chinese millet wine, xiaomi jiu, was mentioned in several inscriptions in the 14th century B.C. and only used as an offering to the gods in religious rituals. Then, around the 7th century B.C., saké appeared as China rice wine mi jiu, a formula almost exactly equal to that currently known as Japanese saké, which had become very popular with the Chinese.
There was a great event in the history of saké and for many other products like amazake (low-alcohol rice saké), miso (fermented soybean paste), and soy sauce: the discovery of koji-kin (Aspergillus oryzae). It is a mold enzyme that caused the chewing process to no longer be necessary, as it could convert rice starch into sugar. However, this process caused the alcohol content of saké to grow considerably. Most of the techniques and methods used to produce a higher quality saké come from China. It is because, as I said earlier, this drink reached great popularity with the Chinese people.
Another oddity in the history of this drink is that in Japan the word saké just means alcoholic beverage. It is in Western countries that the word is used to refer to the saké drink that is made with fermented rice.
To refer to this drink, in Japan the term Nihonshu is used, which means Japanese liquor.
Another point to consider is that the term saké does not refer to rice wine, as it is known that by definition the word wine can only be used for the product made from the fermentation of grapes and other fruits.
Ottawa Tea Festival explores culture, history of tea So if you go to Japan and ask for saké, you will be served any alcoholic beverage, and depending on the region of Japan, they will bring you different drinks. For example, if you are in Okinawa, saké refers to sugarcane alcohol, but if you are south of Kyushu, they will bring a sweet potato alcohol called imo-jochu. Saké is a customary drink served at festivals and ceremonies. Usually served freely in ceremonies, it represents good fortune. Even in the well-known tea ceremony, it is customary to serve it.
In the new year, Japanese people drink a special saké called iwai-zakewhich is mostly known as a cough medicineand this drink has a ritual attached: It is taken in order of age, starting from youngest to oldest. The style in which saké is served depends on ones pleasure, but also depends on the time of year. It can be served hot or cold, as well as warm. But, it is good to clarify that warm or hot saké is absorbed faster by the body, which is why the soldiers in World War II used to drink hot saké, especially the kamikaze soldiers. It is one of the few alcohols that is consumed hot.
2 pounds of small calamaris (squid)
3/4 cup saké
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Wash the squids thoroughly (but leave on the tentacles). In a bowl, mix together the sugar, saké, soy sauce, and lemon juice. (Reserve a small portion to use as a sauce later.)
Put in the squids and marinate for 1 hour.
String the calamaris on wooden skewers and cook over a high heat on a grill or even a hot plate. Drizzle with reserved marinade and serve hot.
Japanese or Chinese?
It might be rice wine to you but it’s saké to me.
Judy Carne 1969.
The Japs probably stole it when they brutalized the Chinks long ago. /s
Japanese! I know this from watching You Only Live Twice!
Who cares? Is it 80 proof or better?????
sake is Japanese
Koreans also have a rice wine.. hang on thats Makgeolli
what would be compared to sake from Korea is soju (so-joo). they say it is “sweeter” than sake
Who gives a flip about sake when there’s Awamori shochu to get wasted on.
I have tried Sake several times, and it always tastes like another 4 letter word to me.
British, actually ...
and perhaps a bit of a pooftah.
That’s my recollection. Korean rice wine is sweeter.
I don’t know if the formula is different than Japan’s but there are numerous variations in the Japanese islands.
***All this was spit-chewed and then the whole mixture was put in a barrel. ***
Much like African millet beer! Peter Hathaway Capstick wrote that many a drunk was carried off by lions after drinking millet beer.
Lions learned how to marinate? Do they use garlic?
***I have tried Sake several times, and it always tastes like another 4 letter word to me.***
I like saki. Different from vino.
Reminds me of an old joke Judy Carne used to say on LAUGH IN.
“It might be rice wine to you but it’s ‘saki-to-me’!”
Interesting. Thanks for posting. I was doing sake bombs at the sushi zen restaurant Saturday night.
I hope nobody here tells me they cannot wait to drink a barrel of Asian spit.
Apparently there is a pretty wide variation on soju as well, just checked the wiki
The marinade sounds like a terryaki, but with a kick. The mouth chewed saki, no thanks!!!
I like a nice warm decantor of saki sometimes with my sushi.
Bookmarking for later read when the kids are asleep.Cold sake sucks but hot sake with sushi is excellent.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.