* The author of this post does not recommend sake-drinking to anyone who has not reached the legal drinking age or who should not consume alcohol due to medical/psychological concerns.
Sasami no ume-shiso ten (left) and aonori ten (right)
Accompanying appetizers tonight were sasami no ume-shiso ten (batter-fried chicken breast fillet with pickled plums and green perilla) and aonori ten (batter-fried green laver). Actually the former was included in our ex-izakaya menu, and the latter is one of the side dishes we offer at our kaiseki place now.
1. Sasami no ume shiso ten
The izakaya version of ume-shiso ten had ume paste and shiso leaves rolled in cut-opened chicken fillets. But my version is a lot simpler; I just minced seeded umeboshi (pickled plums) and shiso, mixed them with chicken chunks, dipped them in batter and deep-fried. I like it that way because it is easier than rolling and it makes the taste of ume a lot milder. I guess you can use white fish in place of chicken breast fillet.
2. Aonori ten
Some people may not like this aonori-ten at all, because it does smell fishy. But let me emphasize this: it is not an unpleasant fishy smell of cheap seaweed. It is much lighter and fresh, which I think deserves a description such as "amazingly flavorful" rather than just "fishy." This tempura is also very easy to make. All you have to do is pour a little batter over the green laver and mix, take a little portion of it and flatten with fingers, then drop it in hot oil to deep fry. It is very important to make it as flat as possible so that it turns out pleasantly crunchy.
This Jozen mizu no gotoshi went so well with bosh kinds of tempura; It didn’t mess with the strong flavors of ume, shiso and green laver at all. My assumption is that this sake will go well with most foods, creating pleasant harmony, or at least not overpowering anything. And that is where its name came from -- the supreme good described in the verse 8 of Tao Te Ching. I like it. I like it very much.