5 Best Japanese Finger Foods for Sake and Beer
The consumption of Sake rice wine is decreasing year by year in Japan. It has decreased to nearly one-third of the peak level in the 1970s. In contrast, the export volume is gradually increasing.
As a matter of fact, when I invite my friends over for some party, most of them and I don’t drink Sake at all.
As for me, I prefer beer to Sake, though I drink rice wine at least once a year because the prefecture where I live Niigata is especially famous for its tasty rice and Sake.
When I drink beer or Sake at home with my friends, I definitely prepare finger foods for those alcoholic drinks.
Convenience stores in Japan usually carry a large variety of snacks for beer and Sake where I often pick some up.
By the way, as you may know, in Japan, the snacks like finger foods and nibbles eaten alongside alcoholic beverages are called “Otsumami (おつまみ)”.
5 Best Otsumami Snacks for Sake and Beer
For people who want to know more about Japanese Otsumami snacks, here I will introduce the 5 best and most beloved Japanese finger foods known as Otsumami.
Saki Ika (さきいか)
First off, Saki Ika (さきいか) is a snack of dried shredded squid. Some Japanese Saki Ika products are unseasoned, while others are typically seasoned with salt, sugar, and vinegar.
The latter type is sweet and savory and has a chewy, somewhat tough texture, so the more you chew on it, the more the flavor and umami come out.
Meanwhile, when I have an unseasoned one, I often eat the squid strips dipping in a mixture of mayonnaise, soy sauce, and Shichimi Togarashi.
Saki Ika is one of the most common Otsumami snacks that has been around since a long time ago, so for beginners, it is a must-try.
Kamaboko (かまぼこ) is a firm chewy fish paste processed with egg white, typically seasoned with salt, sugar, and mirin sweet cooking rice wine. It is a traditional Japanese food with over 900 years of history.
In modern times, Kamaboko comes in various flavors, and among those, especially Mentaiko Kamaboko and Cheese Kamaboko go perfectly with Sake and beer.
Chiitara (チータラ) is a modern Otsumami consisting of a stick of processed cheese sandwiched in between two thin sheets of dried codfish paste where the texture of the fish crust gives the snack a pleasant chewiness.
Today, Chiitara has become one of the standard finger foods for beer and sake in Japan as well as being one of my favorite Otsumami snacks.
Kaki no Tane (Kameda Crisps)
Kaki no Tane is a classic Japanese rice cracker known as a specialty of Niigata. In fact, this Otsumami originated in a confectionery company located in the prefecture “Naniwaya Seika (浪花屋製菓)”.
Today, Kaki no Tane is available in many countries by the name of Kameda Crisps. This Japanese rice cracker is flavored with soy sauce and spiced with red chili pepper.
Kaki no Tane is a little spicy, savory snack with a nice crunchy bite to it and pairs really well with beer because the bitterness and fizziness of the drink well offset the heat and saltiness of the snack.
Known as a Dagashi, Karupas (カルパス) is an individually wrapped semi-dried sausage snack. It is a finger food similar to Salami and makes a perfect combination with beer.
The Otsumami Karupas is a bite-sized, tender, not spicy snack, so anyone from adults to children can enjoy it.