Kitchen Tips

An Entertainer’s Guide to Japanese Food and Drink Matching

Entertain like a professional this festive season by getting your food and wine pairings on point. Our guide to Japanese food and drink matching includes what to serve with sushi and sashimi, a surprising wine match for tempura, and the best reds for Japanese beef dishes.

Sushi and sashimi

With the light, delicate flavours of sushi and sashimi, you want a light, delicate drink to match. And there’s no better match than the signature sip of Japan: sake. This aromatic rice wine is clean and crisp on the palate, enhancing the gentle flavours of the raw fish. Sake is now readily available in bottle shops across Australia, so pick up a bottle and chill it well to serve with your next meal of sushi or sashimi. If you’d prefer a traditional white wine, try a dry riesling from the Clare Valley.

Close-up of vegetarian sushi

Tempura and fried snacks

When it comes to tempura and other fried delights, you want a drink that will cut through the richness of the oil. Enter sparkling wine. The crisp acidity will slice through the fat, and the bubbles will complement the crunchy texture of the dish. Try a Tasmanian blanc de blanc or vintage Champagne from France.

Tempura recipe

Gyoza and izakaya bites

There’s a reason why beer is the drink of choice in izakayas (casual bar-eateries). The savoury flavours and crisp coolness of the beer work in harmony with the umami of gyoza dumplings, yakitori skewers and lotus chips. Choose a cleansing Japanese lager, such as Asahi or Sapporo, for an authentic drinks match to your izakaya-style meal.

japanese gyoza

Grilled salmon

Salmon fillets are packed with good fats, but as a result they can be quite rich. To complement the flavours of this grilled salmon dish, choose a full-bodied white wine, such as a chardonnay or aged semillon from the Hunter Valley.

Salmon Steak with Wasabi Sauce and Soba Noodles Recipe

Soy-marinated beef

When you team beef with soy and other strident marinades, you’re going to need a wine that can stand up to the challenge. For a hot beef dish, such as this beef yakiniku with a fruit marinade, reach for a fruity grenache or GSM blend from McLaren Vale. If it’s a cold beef dish, like this beef tataki salad, opt for a light gamay wine (the grape that makes Beaujoulais) from North East Victoria, chilled in the fridge.

Sizzling ginger yakiniku

For more entertaining inspiration, try this easy Korean dinner party menu.

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