I'm Japanese, currently living in JP, so cannot guarantee that the sake being selled under the same names is the same product, but generally,
Cooking sake is different from drinking sake.
Not necessarily inferior, cooking sake has a stronger taste and less sweetness that most believe contributes to the dish it is added to. Said strong taste usually does work for the frying/stewing/simmering thing cooking sake is called for.
Drinking sake is drinking sake.
In JP, sake is not thought of as 'beer.' Beer is casual, and is the drink to go to for drinking with 10 or more co-workers and friends in a noisy setting. Sake can be as casual, but (especially with the better brands) calls for a more subdued, cosy setting.
However, like beer, drinking sake does have a very short shelf life.
Drinking sake does not (and should not) contain the preservatives most cooking sake contains, and should be drank in a week.
If you don't cook Japanese that often, using a portion of your drinking sake in your cooking is a good idea. Leftover heated sake, ginjo and daiginjo, though- I would use only in sweet egg rolls or some other dish that calls for sugar and no fish/meat. You could use it in pancakes, for poaching fruit, or boiling vegetables such as squash or kabocha. The heated sake because of the lowered alcohol content which would render it useless for combating fishy/game-y smells in other dishes, and the ginjo / daiginjo because of their sweetness.
I'm quite sure that the original poster is no longer following this thread, but I decided to comment because the info floating about the internet on sake can sometimes be quite silly for the Japanese.
Hi...in case you didn't see my response elsewhere in the thread, you should definitely refrigerate after opening (and, of course, seal the bottle well so it doesn't pick up other odors in the fridge).
You may be able to get a few weeks out of it, but fortunately it'll be real obvious when it's going bad. It turns bitter.
Take a good taste right after opening it, and taste the stuff periodically (let it warm up first...coldness could mask the bitterness) and see how it's doing. If it tastes ok, it IS ok.
Also, fun sake fact: sake is beer, not wine. It's a beverage fermented (and not distilled) from a grain. So don't feel TOO classy when you're drinking the stuff! (g)
Drinking sake and cooking sake are two different things!!
If you're drinking "cooking sake", you're in for a shock. And if you're cooking with "drinking sake", you're wasting your money!! Well, I suppose there may be some gourmet usage that specifies "use real sake", but I've never seen it, and I don't know any Japanese who would do so. Like pouring merlot into a stew....
Either sake keeps fine unrefrigerated, but the "edge" is lost after a while. Not really noticeable for COOKING, but if you're drinking the stuff straight out, you might want to get to it within a month or two of opening the pack.
I stick mine in the fridge anyways. The DRINKING stuff that is. Like various pickles and salsas, which don't really need refrigeration either, but most people do anyways. The cooking bottle I leave out as Maria says, though.
re: Jim Wong
By "cooking sake" do you mean a sake to which salt has been added the same way they adulterate Chinese rice wines and label them "for cooking only"? or just a low grade sake shipped to countries (like U.S.) who aren't hip to the subtleties of sake?
I personally don't touch the adulterated products, and I'm not a millionaire. I go to my liquor store and buy a cheap but serviceable bottle of sake or rice wine which was intended for drinking, albeit not highbrow drinking. It works fine.
I dislike the idea of "cooking" wines of any ethnicity packed full of salt just so they can be sold on a grocer's shelf. For me, they wreck the balance of a dish (think sake-steamed fish and you get the idea).
re: Jim Wong
"And if you're cooking with "drinking sake", you're wasting your money!! "
No you're not. You're doing the only conceivably acceptable thing. "Cooking sake", like "cooking wine", is a low-grade product taht tastes awful (not "strong", awful). Things that taste awful should never go in food. You're clearly not talking about mirin sake, the sweet cooking sake that's an entirely different thing (and totally legit).
"Either sake keeps fine unrefrigerated"
No it doesn't. It deteriorates rapidly once open, and refrigeration helps considerably. Cooking sake is so disgusting one might hardly notice. But leaving it out for long periods is adding insult to injury.
I don't have time to pick apart all your messages, nor do I have any interest in embarrassing you. I know you mean well, but whether you post as Jim Wong or Julie ID (and I do wish you'd stick to one handle), your misinformation is really unwelcome.
re: Jim Leff
> "Cooking sake", like "cooking wine", is a low-grade product taht tastes awful
OK, well I said quite clearly that some GOURMANDS might use real sake to cook, but as rows and rows of "cooking sake" in any Japanese supermarket (including very high-end ones) indicates, this is not a common practice. If you want to cook stews with merlot, or make cat fish with caviar, more power to you!! Just stay away from the foie gras....
Now *THERE* is a foul substance if ever there was one!! Might as well put PANCAKE SYRUP in the pot as well! I'm surprised to hear this from YOU of all people, Jim! Moving to a trailer park outside Kawasaki?
> needs refrigeration
Well, I retract any view on the matter, then. Although, I am puzzled why I get flamed at for mentioning I make HALF an effort to refrigerate, when Maria said point-blank that they don't need ANY refrigeration. Why the big diff in reactions?
> Julie Id
Oh, never mind. If you're convinced I am she, then I can see where all this flaming is coming from. Can't you like *TRACE* posts or something?? I ASSURE you she is not I. Just look at the tone/style of our messages! Not even CLOSE!!
Julie, if you're out there, POST SOMETHING and straighten this out!!!! You've been quiet far too long!
re: Jim Wong
I don't know about drinking sake long after it's been opened, but I know plenty of sushi bars that keep personal bottles of special sakes for individual customers (I assume it takes a while to empty a 1L bottle) and I keep a bottle of average sake on my kitchen counter for cooking and it's just fine for as long as it takes to use it up, usually a month or two. I was taught that you shouldn't drink leftover heated sake - the reasoning is the alcohol is much dissipated and its keeping quality has been compromised along with the flavor, but it can be used for cooking for a few days after if refrigerated.