Super Sake Boy’s Super Sous-Vide Sake Experiment

Sake tanpo in a sous-vide warming, with a very happy nihonshu fan standing behind it

Last Saturday night was cold and miserable in the hills where I live. Wet and really the first cold night of the year. We had decided to stay in for the night and had refrigerated our mandatory flask of sake for the night. During the day we had managed to acquire a 1.8 litre bottle of Otokoyama Kimoto Junmai from Hokkaido (another cold spot)…. we gave it a quick taste and I think it was me that mentioned that this sake would be really nice warm.

Kanzake, or warm sake, is something that we have really only recently discovered we like. After probably both enduring an unpleasant experience, at a cheap Japanese restaurant, with cheap sake, we were both pretty sure chilled sake was the sake for us. That is until our lovely friend, and owner of our favourite Japanese restaurant, Wabi Sabi Salon, in Collingwood, Tomoya-san, warmed us some excellent sake and we were no longer on the anti-warm-sake-train. Good sake, not too over-processed, is so delicious warm. The heat brings out the flavour and it is so nice to drink on a cool evening.

Super Sake Boy was gifted, for Christmas, courtesy of yours truly, a pewter tanpo, or metal vessel for heating sake. We were yet to try it out. The excitement of using his new equipment for the first time was palpable. He was slightly bummed he didn’t have a proper sake thermometer to check the temperature, but I convinced him the one we use for oil would suffice, and was accurate enough for the time being.

We heated some water on the stove, in a saucepan. We half submerged the tanpo into the water. We stuck the thermometer in the sake and waited. Super Sake Boy had decided that 43 degrees was the ideal temperature, so that was our goal. At 43 degrees, we took the tanpo out, poured the sake into the little pewter ochoko (cups) and “kanpai”-ed…. (cheers). It was sooooooo yummy. It was delicious enough to have us dancing around the kitchen. Only problem… the constant getting up and down to reheat the sake. The vessel does not hold very much.

Super Sake Boy had a brain wave. He was so inspired and happy, he said he felt giddy. We have a sous-vide. Sous-vide is a method of cooking things in very low, constant temperature water over a long period of time. The temperature of the sous-vide is programmable and is maintained perfectly for hours…. out of the saucepan and into the sous-vide went the tanpo. The probe thermometer was placed into the sake and perfectly warmed, constantly maintained temperature sake was achieved. It was an awesome revelation, a great and successful experiment and something I suspect will happen a lot in our little house in the hills over winter. Super Sous-vide Sake Boy was victorious!

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