The Flavor Profile Tip To Remember When Pairing Fish And Sake

There's a reason why you can order sake, a fermented Japanese rice spirit, at almost any sushi restaurant that has an alcohol license. While you can use sake to cook with, it's a spirit meant for sipping during a meal. Most people think of sushi as a pairing for sake; however, sake also goes well with other types of fish dishes, such as our simple baked honey citrus salmon and our glazed salmon with cranberry balsamic compote recipes. In nearly any form, fish is one of the quintessential foods you should pair with sake

Take a second before you dive right in, as there's a flavor profile tip you should remember the next time you pair fish and sake. Let's say you're enjoying a light or mild-flavored fish, such as halibut, tilapia, or cod. In that case, the perfect sake pairing for this lighter tasting fish is a light-flavored (or light-bodied) sake. The reason is because light-bodied sake won't overpower the light fish's flavors like full-bodied sake would. Rather, there's a balance, and the light, clean-tasting sake can even enhance all of the flavors of the mild-flavored fish. 

And, of course, the inverse is also true. If you're having a richer, fattier fish for dinner, such as Ora king salmon, or more flavorful fish, like anchovies, sardines, and mackerel, you should pair it with a more full-bodied sake. 

Like lemon, sake also masks fishiness in seafood and fish dishes

Since full-bodied sake are rich in umami and bold in flavor due to having more acidity and less sweetness, it won't overpower flavorful and richer fattier fish. In fact, they will balance each other out, making the pairing quite perfect.

Additionally, sake is a perfect pairing for fish and other seafood because it helps mask fishy flavors and aromas, just like the way a squirt of lemon juice helps to cover up fishiness. In fact, lemon makes all the difference in your fried fish dishes. Let's say you're having fried catfish for dinner — add a squirt of lemon to the dish and pair the meal with a sweet, light-bodied sake, as catfish is a light flavored fish with mild flavor.

And if you need a recommendation for which sake to choose to put this pairing to the test, we've got you covered with our review of 12 top-rated sake brands