There’s no doubt that sake is delicious, but it is better when served at the right temperature. Kan is a Japanese method used to warm up this beverage, and it is perfect for demonstrating your bartender skills at a gathering with your friends.
Today we offer you a little guide to serving sake and tell you at what temperature you should drink it. Keep reading!
Kan for a good sake
According to an article from Umami Insider, “the technique used to heat and serve sake, kan or okan suru, seems equal parts ceremony and utility.” This activity is not only about heating a beverage but becoming a good host and entertaining your guests.
To warm up the liquor, you can use any kind of heat source. People generally use a fireplace, cans with a self-contained heating system, and some even use their body heat.
Kan has three categories:
- Water immersion (Yusen).
- Steaming (Mushikan).
- Microwaving (Denshi renji kan).
All three methods do the trick, but the last one is not as ceremonial as serving sake should be.
Should we always warm sake?
You can heat all kinds of sake, but high-quality ones have particular flavors that can be altered when heated. This the reason why some people prefer to drink it cold.
The mentioned article clarifies that “the aversion to using high-quality sake is based on newer science, not a bad taste. Technology has enabled distillers to design flavor profiles, which heat can alter, but it doesn’t transform them into bad flavor profiles; they’re just different from those the distiller intended.”
So, it all comes down to your taste. If you want to heat an expensive sake, you are free to do it.
The serving temperatures vary according to the variety and style of the sake, but they have a nomenclature:
- Hana-hie – Chilled (41-50F).
- Suzu-hie – Cool (50-59F).
- Hinata-kan – Hot with sunlight (86-95F).
- Hitohada-kan – Body temperature (95-104F).
- Nuru-kan – Temperate (104-113).
- Jyoh-kan – Warm (113-122F).
- Atsu-kan – Hot (122-131F).
- Tobikiri-kan – Very hot (131F and up).
The temperature can be determined by feel. As Umami Insider’s article says, “a depression in the bottom of tokkuri, or sake decanter, forms a seal when submerged that keeps the area inside the depression dry; the temperature of the depression reflects the temperature of the sake.”
Ideally, you should heat the liquor enough so you can serve and drink it immediately.
Hot water bath
- Pour the sake into the tokkuri (jug) and put this one in a pot.
- Add enough water to the pot to reach about half the level of the sake in the tokkuri.
- Let it heat up slowly, starting with the low setting on the stove and gradually moving to the middle.
- Fill the steamer with enough water to reach exactly below the steaming basket.
- Add the tokkuri to the steamer and cover it.
- Let the water reach its boiling point and, then, serve the sake.
Mastering these techniques should be a whole experience for you, so follow every step calmly. When you finish, you can serve the sake and have a good time with your friends!
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