Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS


The Basic Guide Shochu Food Pairings

Shochu Food Pairings

Like sake, shochu pairs well with a wide variety of food. The right pairing can elevate both the food and shochu to a whole new level.

Pairing Tips for Shochu

Match the Aroma
and Taste

Light-flavored dishes go well with light-flavored shochu, and rich-flavored dishes go well with rich-flavored shochu. When prepared differently, dishes containing the same ingredient can pair well with different types of shochu.

Adjust the
Alcohol Content

Adjust the alcohol content according to both the scene and pairing dishes. Mix shochu with soda for a light and fizzy treat before the meal. Remember to dilute the alcohol content to 10-15% to improve pairing during the meal. Lastly, enjoy shochu either neat or on the rocks after the meal.

Play with

Different temperatures bring out different flavors, which expands pairing options. Warming a full-flavored shochu highlights its fragrant aroma and also brings out the sweetness and umami of the dish. On the other hand, the fruity or floral aroma of lighter shochu shines best at a cooler temperature.


Most people in Japan often enhance shochu with citrusy juice, carbonated water, or various types of tea. Adding some herbs, spices, or fruit can also enhance the shochu so it better complements the dish.

Sweet Potato (Imo) Shochu

Sweet potato shochu is intensely fragrant with a sweet, smokey flavor. It pairs well with fermented or cured products like cheese and ham but also works well with sweets like chocolate.

Fatty meat such as pork
Spicy food

Barley (Mugi) Shochu

Barley shochu has a relatively neutral flavor, accented by nutty and sometimes grassy notes. It pairs well with chicken and root vegetables.

Lean meat
Smoked meat
Root vegetables

Rice (Kome) Shochu

Rice shochu is the most neutral shochu with a sweet aftertaste. It pairs well with foods with delicate flavors, such as seafood, rice dishes, and cream sauces.

Rice dishes
Dishes with creamy sauce
Deep fried foods


Although awamori is produced with rice, its distinct production process gives it a more robust flavor than rice shochu. It pairs well with fried foods and fatty meats, such as pork belly.

Fatty meats
Smoked meat
Deep fried dishes

Brown Sugar (Kokuto) Shochu

Brown sugar shochu has a hint of sweetness. It goes well with gamey meats, such as pork and lamb, as well as various desserts.

Fatty meats


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