Why This San Francisco Pop-Up Chef Pairs Sake with His Dishes
Become a fishing chef
Encounter with a local sake in SF
Sake covers diverse cuisines
Changing his cooking style to suit the ingredients available at the time does not affect Ichido and Sequoia’s pairings. This is because sake goes well with a wide variety of cuisines, not just Japanese food.
“Another way that I can associate it is, would you only drink tequila in a Mexican restaurant?” Reed offers. “And then people [say], ‘Oh, no, I drink that wherever I go.’ You have cocktails that are made with tequila in every type of restaurant that there is. So it’s just putting it in the context that it’s kind of a light bulb for people; like, why are you only drinking sake with fish or with Japanese?“
“I always push people towards doing a flight. You can even place like, different sake or different grades, whatever it is. Because a lot of times the differences are relatively subtle. It’s a great way, side by side where you can really see the difference in each sake and then also how each sake interacts differently with the food.”
Beyond understanding fermentation
“I can do kind of a flight of the sake courses where you have a six year old, a four year old, two year old and then fresh and you can see how much it changes just in color, and Maillard reaction giving it that dark, nutty flavor to it. And it really bothers people’s mind that this is the exact same thing. They’re just there as a living, breathing animal,” Reed says, describing the kasu.
In Japan, sake kasu is used for pickles and marinating fish, while Reed works more creatively, mixing it with chocolate or using it in fried chicken. It also goes well with fish garam, which he makes by fermenting fish he, of course, catches himself.
In recent years, fermentation culture is growing in America, but Reed points out that until this shift, most people did not understand why pickled cucumbers didn’t spoil. It has existed around the world for a long time, and, “goes back to being able to survive,” he says.
Let customers experience it, discover it, and remember it. That is Reed’s calling.