8 Ways to Cook with Japanese Sake – Umami Insider

Cooking sake recipe

Unfiltered hot or cold sake is a common accompaniment to sushi and other Japanese foods. But did you know that you can cook with Japanese sake for a wide range of dishes? While you can choose to use regular cheap sake when cooking, you can also buy Japanese sake that enhances flavor and adds subtle levels of umami to many different foods.

Cooking with sake:


What is sa-shi-su-se-so? Each part of the phrase refers to a particular ingredient used to season a dish with a Japanese twist. The phrase is also meant to help cooks remember the order in which they should add ingredients to achieve the tastiest impact.

When using sa-shi-su-se-so to cook a meal, remember to add sake first. This will ensure that sake can work its magic without interference from the other strong ingredients like soy sauce or rice vinegar.

How Cooking with Sake Affects Your Dish

Depending on how you use sake when cooking with Japanese sake, it can impart many benefits to a dish. For example, when fish or meat is marinated or simmered with sake, the resulting dish may be much more tender. Sake also helps eliminate overly powerful fishy or fleshy smells, offering a more subtle balance of aroma.

Sake also imparts umami to many foods when used as an ingredient, and in some cases, even helps food cook faster. Fried foods with sake are crispier, and bread or baked goods made with a little sake for cooking are tastier. Sake also contains antioxidants and helpful bacteria that aid in digestion, so using sake when cooking also offers some health benefits.

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How to cook

sake sake as

part of a marinade

Marinades with sake as an ingredient not only taste better, but also serve to tenderize meat or fish. You can opt for simple marinades like sake, soy sauce, and garlic, or even more complex marinades with miso and ginger. Sake is a very versatile ingredient and would complement almost any marinade recipe.

Sake in soups and stews

Add about 1 1/2 cups of sake to a soup or stew to add a rich, deep flavor. Sake complements many broths with mastering them. You can add it to a broth made with water, or chicken broth, meat broth, fish broth, and dashi, of course.

Sake used to make sauces

When added to a sauce, sake intensifies the flavors of the other ingredients. Try using it to make a barbecue sauce for grilled meat and fish, or as a glaze to add to baked goods.

Use sake to

steam food

Sake umami can shine when used to steam various foods. Use equal parts sake and water as a base, and steam everything from seafood and fish to vegetables and chicken. The resulting aroma and flavor of the finished dish will surely make you reach for Japanese sake every time you steam food in the future!

Using sake to

make rice

Most people make Japanese rice with water. Add just a little sake to create a more distinctive, complete flavor to the finished rice.

Using Sake

to Make Baked

Goods Sake can be used in a variety of baked goods. Sake will make cakes and bread moist and tasty. You can easily find recipes for a sake pound cake, a popular and delicious variation of a basic pound cake.

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frying vegetables and meats, add some sake and it will help the dish develop deeper, more vibrant flavors. Sake also helps balance bolder flavors like soy sauce and garlic. There are plenty of stir-fried recipes that incorporate sake, so be sure to try some and taste the difference!


sake brine will serve two important purposes: it will first soften any meat you’re growing and then add intense umami to the finished dish. You can create a brine for many types of food, including beef, pork, chicken, salmon, and other fish.

The difference between sake

, sake for cooking, and Mirin

When looking for sake to buy for cooking, you’ll find a few different options and maybe wonder which one is best. When it comes to sake and sake for cooking, there isn’t much difference except for the alcohol content. Cooking sake will contain less alcohol, but the flavor will be more concentrated. In most dishes, when using sake for cooking, you would only need about half the amount of regular sake.

Mirin is also a Japanese cuisine wine made from rice, but it is much sweeter than sake and sake for cooking. It also contains much less alcohol (only about 1%), which is burned when cooking. It is mainly used for seasoning food and as a glaze. You can use mirin to balance saltier flavors.

Once you try cooking some dishes with sake, you’ll want to make sure you always have sake to cook in your pantry!

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