A Perfect Pairing: Shrimp Ceviche and Saké

See the photo below?  It’s a Shrimp Ceviche Tostada from one of my favorite local Mexican joints and a glass of SakéOne G Joy Junmai Saké.

And together, they were a perfect pairing!

The Food

If you’ve not had the pleasure of enjoying a Ceviche Tostada, it’s exactly what it sounds like – ceviche, which is raw fish (in this case shrimp) marinated (“cooked”) in lime juice, onions, spicy chiles, juicy tomatoes perched atop a crisp tostada.  Mine was also topped with slices of fresh ripe avocado.  And as you can see, I also generously applied a spicy hot pepper sauce that come with it (could be Tapatio Hot Sauce but I’m not sure).

The Saké

First let’s get this out of the way…Saké is not rice wine!  Saké is brewed like beer, but drinks more like fine wine.

SakéOne G Joy Junmai Saké is one of my favorites.  It’s an American made premium saké that classified as Junmai Ginjo Genshu.  

Saké is categorized based on grade, style and amount of polishing the rice receives -so Junmai is indicative of the grade, Ginjo is indicative of the style and Genshu in indicative how much the rice was polished – the lower percentage the better the quality.

Here’s my tasting note:

Practically clear color with apple, melon, lychee aromas. On the palate, it’s rich, and full-bodied with apple, pear, yellow plum and a bit of spice flavors. Medium-long finish.

A Perfect Pairing: Shrimp Ceviche and Saké
Premium saké is best served chilled in a stemmed wine glass for ultimate appreciation of aroma and taste!

The Pairing

Ceviche pairs well with a wide range of beverages. Classic matches are beer, Pisco Sour – a Peruvian cocktail made with pisco, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white, and high acid white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Grüner Vetliner, and Sparkling wine.

I’ve enjoyed ceviche with beer, high acid white whites, and sparkling wine. All co-existed peacefully with the ceviche.  All were good matches.

But, for me, none matched this perfect pairing!

And what is a perfect pairing? It’s when you:

  1. Take a bite of food and chew
  2. Take a sip of wine or other adult beverage with the food together in your mouth
  3. The two together do more than make each other better – they become a third even better thing!

Perfect pairings are rare.

This pairing was perfect for me because the rich, full bodied nature of the saké seemed to strip the heat and acid of the ceviche off the palate, while replacing it with bright fruit and some earthy notes.  The slightly sweet taste of the saké not only eased the heat brought on by hot sauce, but when combined with the sweet taste of the shrimp, it not only enhanced the taste of the ceviche, the saké tasted better too.    

The pairing opened up my eyes to the diverse possibilities of saké as a partner at the table. Granted, ceviche may not seem too far afield from the sushi and sashimi because of the raw fish element, but the flavor profile is quite different.

This was a pairing that has me looking forward to trying saké with foods other than sushi and sashimi!

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