Roswell Hosoki knows a thing or two about the pleasures of making and eating snacks to accompany drinks.
His "Sake no hosomichi" (The narrow road of drinking) comic series has been running for more than 20 years. The short manga captures in four to six pages how sales rep Sotatsu Iwama enjoys drinking and eating seasonal dishes with his superiors, colleagues and friends.
"I make sure that the characters are enjoying their drinks and food," says Hosoki. Quite a few fans are known to drink while reading his work. The manga is itself an accompaniment to drinks, in a way.
The depiction of the seasons is also inspiring. The characters sip sake from a small bottle on a patch under the cherry blossoms, which they have secured and wait for their friends to arrive. Or they hold a welcome party for newcomers to the office. In another episode, they take in the aroma of the sea as they eat "sazae" (horned turban) cooked in its shell.
An episode titled "Haru no banshaku" (Evening drink in spring), published in the 34th volume, introduces a variety of newly harvested ingredients. On a holiday, Iwama makes accompaniments to drinking with cabbage, onion and potatoes.
Although his recent busy schedule keeps him from drinking away from home, Hosoki says, "I feel happy when newly harvested ingredients appear in succession in spring. Establishments that serve them are precious. If you see small dishes with newly harvested ingredients listed on the restaurant’s blackboard, you feel like ordering them."
In the episode, Iwama makes "Sardines in oil on newly harvested potatoes." It is a kind of potato salad with boiled new potatoes topped with sardines and homemade dressing.
The new potatoes were boiled including their skin. When they were done, Hosoki peeled them by holding them with some kitchen paper. Spoil yourself and buy canned sardines of good quality. Mash lightly before placing them on the potato so the two go well together.
Fresh new potatoes and rich sardines in oil are a good match. In the manga, Iwama enjoys white wine while commenting how the dish prompts him to tip the glass.
"It is a Western-style dish and goes well with a highball and whiskey, too," says Hosoki. Serves one to two.
200 grams new potato (shin-jagaimo)
5 sardines in oil from can
Dressing (2 Tbsp each of vinegar and olive oil, 1 tsp mustard, 2 pinches salt, bit of black pepper, 10 grams finely chopped new onion, bit of finely chopped parsley)
Rinse potato and boil in skin until tender so bamboo skewer can run through smoothly.
While boiling potato, mix ingredients for dressing in bowl.
When potato is ready, peel while still hot and mash lightly. Loosen sardines somewhat, place on potato and pour dressing on top.