cover image Sake: A Modern Guide

Sake: A Modern Guide

Sara Deseran, Beau Timken. Chronicle Books, $18.95 (120pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-4960-9

Say the word ""sake"" to most Americans, and what comes to mind is a hot, semisweet beverage meant for socking down alongside spicy tuna. In Japan, however, sake is a serious subject, studied and celebrated much like wine is in France. This little volume seeks to demystify the sophisticated side of sake, providing a brief history and an in-depth examination of its rituals and preparation. The authors survey the surprisingly varied sake universe: ""Kira,"" or ""devil sake,"" is a dry and peppery version which marries well with spicy foods, while ""fukunishiki,"" or ""happy fortune"" sake, is a ""dependable, safe sake,"" tasty alongside fried snacks. Pushing international boundaries, the authors note that ""Dessai 50,"" or ""Otter Festival,"" goes well with risotto, and ""Bishonen,"" which means ""beautiful boy,"" is great with a burger. The authors also provide a few appealing recipes to match with different sakes; a ""Crab and Grapefruit Salad with Fried Shallots"" is elegant, easy to prepare, and faintly spicy, while ""Roasted Chicken Wings with Garlic And Ginger"" beg for beer-or for a cold glass of ""Gokyo Junmai."" They also offer recipes for sake cocktails, like the super-sweet ""Citrus Mistress"" and the ""Geisha's Delight,"" which pairs Italian limoncello with citrus and sake. Not traditional, to be sure, but delicious enough to get any sake neophyte's attention.