“Wayo-settchu” is a Japanese concept, roughly meaning “a blending of Japanese and Western styles.” This idea can be applied to everything from fashion and architecture to music and cuisine. On February 22, 2014, the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Tokyo hosted a food tasting that paired U.S. beef with Niigata sake.
“This event is just another great example of the adventurous spirit that both U.S. and Japanese chefs are renowned for,” said David Miller, agricultural minister-counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. “The pairing of sake and steak shows how flavors we assume might not go together can be combined to create new and exciting dishes that I know will be enjoyed by many people in restaurants and at home.”
The inspiration for this event was the 2014 Annual Niigata Sake Festival, where several innovative brewers created sakes to be served with beef. These new sakes led ATO Tokyo to explore the idea of pairing Niigata sake with U.S. beef recipes to highlight how American and Japanese food cultures can be combined to create new flavors.
The event, attended by print, television, and other media representatives, was supported by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the Niigata Tourism Association, and the Niigata Sake Brewers Association. In addition to raising awareness of the exciting meals and menus that can be created by combining U.S. beef with different sakes, the event highlighted how expanded two-way trade could support the agriculture and food cultures in the United States and Japan, as well as raise Japanese public awareness of the versatility and quality of U.S. beef.
Following the relaxation of Japanese import regulations for U.S. beef in 2013, Japan regained its number-one position as the largest importer of U.S. beef and beef products, buying nearly $1.4 billion in 2013. FAS supports USMEF marketing efforts, such as this pairing, through the Market Access Program, which helps American farmers and ranchers market and promote their products around the globe.