Tuna Species 3: Kihada/Yellowfin

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“Kihada maguro” or Yellowfin Tuna” will appear soon on our tables from early summer.
It is mainly caught off Shizuoka, Miyagi and Kochi Prefectures coasts.
Like all other fish it is called other names in different regions:
Kiwada, Itoshibi (Wakayama, Kochi, Kyushu), shibi (Kyusyu, Osaka), Ban (Osaka) and Tuna Kajibi (Okinawa)
Kihada roams over many seas between 30 degrees north latitude and 30 degrees south latitude and even wider depending on the season.
Most of the fish caught in Japan is served locally as sashimi:
Very recognzable for its pinkish colour.
It is also widely appreciated as zuke (first lightly grilled, then dipped into ice water before being cut in thin slices) on nigiri:
A lot is imported frozen.
In Shizuoka try to go for the freshly caught samples coming from Yaizu or Numazu.

Sushi Bento

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Yesterday my better (worse?) half came up with another great simple tasty homemade sushi for my “bento bako” (packed lunch).
After preparing the rice according to traditions, she first made a roll:
Inside is homemade “tamagoyaki” (Japanese omelette) and “kani Kamaboko” (imitation crab made with fish paste/also called “surumi”). Instead of nori, she used large lettuce leaves to wrap it.
Then she prepared “inari”:
“inari” means a ball of rice put inside a pouch made of fried tofu. The tofu itself is quite sweet by Japanese standards. She mixed in some black sesame seeds.
One can of course mix in other ingredients, although one or two are definitely enough. Great for vegetarians!
As for the bento above, she added homemade pickled fresh ginger and vegetables. The small shoyu bottle is for me to keep at work to season my sushi and others!

Sashimi set

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I took this picture at Tomii Restaurant, Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, a favourite of mine for their superlative Kyoto-style food, great sake and shochu.

Since I took pity on friends like Barnaby, I will tell you what I was served!

Left, “katsuo” (bonito) with grated with ginger and chopped thun leeks, “ika” (squid) in the middle. Behind ika, “tai” (seabream). Right is “uni” (sea urchin) atop “yuuba” (“tofu skin”).
The greens behind are: left, “shiso” (perilla/steak plant) and right, “wasabi” (Japanes green horseradish leaves).

The green “thing” in front of the “ika” is freshly grated wasabi (that’s for Allison!). the rest is all edible “decoration”!)

“Shirasu” & “Shirauo”

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THere seems to exist a great confusion about two different fish in Japan that stumps even quite a few Japanese!
Actually there should not be any problem as they are caught in totally different: whereas “shirasu” is almost exclusively caught in Suruga Bay in Shizuoka Prefecture where the most important shirasu fishing harbour is in Mochimune, Shizuoka City.
“Shirasu” is whitebait, that is a fish in its infancy, of the “katakchi iwashi”, a sardine variety.
“Shirauo” is a totally different fish, usually called “Japanese anchovy” which is mainly caught in Kyushu and Kanto. The color and the size are different.

Most of the shirasu caught off Mochimune goes through the hands of the local dealers at the harbour.
Fresh it can be eaten on a gunkan with a dash ograted ginger, some finely chopped thin leeks and wasabi.
(Pic taken at Sushiko, Shizuoka City)
Or it can be served fresh as it is as “tsumami” (hors d’oeuvre) in ponzu and some fine greens. There are many variations according to the sushi chef!
(Pic taken at Sushiko, Shizuoka City)

Shirasu can also be dried like “sakura ebi” and put to many uses.
It can added to rice, mixed with dried shrimps, and so on!

Sakura Ebi/Sakura Shrimp

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“Sakura Ebi” or Sakura shrimp is a vey small (maximum 5 cm) crustacean caught in the Suruga Bay of Shizuoka Prefecture. Most of ships are anchored in Yui City (will become part of Shizuka City soon) Harbour.
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The shrimps are caught in special net baskets according to long traditions before they are put on the market immediately for auction.
Many fishermen open their own sushi restaurants, bars and often their catches of the night until early in the afternoon before taking a well-earned sleep.
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For people who prefer them as sushi, the gunkan style is the most appreciated!
Most French and Italian Restaurants in Shizuoka City and around will serve them in quiches!
(pic taken at Togeppo Restaurant/Asty-Shizuoka City Station)
Another popular way to eat them is of course as a tempura called kaki-age, either with fresh sakura ebi in season or dried ones.
Fishermen use to dry their catch for sale and export until the government had the great idea to run an expressway just along the harbour!
The shrimps are now dried along nearby Fujikawa River, creating large quaint rose expanses in the most useen for locations!
In 1965 Yui Fishermen created an Association of their own to decide each year’s toatl catch so as prserve stocks and preserving the environment. A salutary initiative long before normal citizens became aware of conservation and environment!

Tuna Species 2: Mebachi/Big-eyed Tuna

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We are nearing the season for savouring Mebachi or Big-eyed Tuna, afairly reasonable kind of tuna especially popular for its “akami” (lean part)

It has different names according to the areas: “Darumashibi” (Mie Prefecture), “Mebuto” (Kyushu). In Tokyo, Shizuoka and Wakayama, it is called “Daruma” when caught a young age.
The best seasons for catching are during the rainy season or the Fall.
This kind of tuna is mainly caught off the shores of Miyagi, Kagoshima, Kochi, Shizuoka, Kanagawa and Hokkaido Prefectures.

As siad before it is mainly appreciated for its lean beautiful red flesh, but also cooked and grilled as “kama”:
Inthe fall it is also a source of toro (fatty part) when kuromaguro is not available.
In recent years it has been extensively caught in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and in the Mediterranean Sea. It also come frozen from Chile, Peru and North America. It is also flown fresh from Australia, Indonesia and New York. A lot equally comes frozen from South Korea and Taiwan.

Acquired Tastes 2a: Ankimo/preparation

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As promised, here is the recipe for making “Ankimo”!
Note that sake can be replaced white wine.

Step 1:
Choose fresh ankimo. That is how it should look!

Step 2:
Take off blood vessels. Don’t worry about the nerves.

Step 3:
After taking blood vessels away it does not look pretty. Nothing to worry about actually!

Step 4:
Lightly salt all sides

Step 5:
Wrap it in cooking wrap and let rest for an hour.

Step 6:
That is how it will look after an hour.

Step 7:
Take off all water and salt with kitchen paper.
Get the teamer ready.

Step 8:
As in the picture place wrap on bamboo roll maker (use a soft plastic sheet if not available). Place the frogfish liver on third of the way as equally as possible.

Step 9:
Roll in carefully, making sure the wrap sheet does not accidentally penetrate the liver.

Step 10:
Twist both ends of the wrap sheet until there is no space left inside.

Step 11:
Cut extremities of the wrap making sure the roll does not unfold and wrap it inside another sheet.

Step 12:
Wrap inside cooking aluminum foil.

Step 13:
Twist ends to close.

Step 14-15-16:
-Put inside steamer and close.
-Cook for 30 minutes above strong heat
-Take off and let cool

Step 17:
For better consistency leave in refrigerator for a full day. Cut slices to your preferred thickness.

Step 18:
(For example) serve astride sliced cucumber, sprinkle it with a generous amount of ponzu shoyu and place half a spoon of “momiji oroshi” (grated daikon seasoned with chili pepper). Finely chopped thin leeks or shiso would make a nice finishing touch, too!

Acquired Tastes 2: Ankimo

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“Ankimo” is the liver of the Frogfish (“anko”), a fish that can be found in most the Northern Hemisphere and elsewhere. Not a nicelooking fish, it is nonetheless appreciated almost everywhere.
The Japanese love it in “nabe” (Japanese-style fish pot au feu), while the French either introduce it in Bouillabaisse, or even better, baked rooled inside prime bacon.
The liver is much appreciated in some countries, especially France and Scandinavia.
In Japan they steam it in sake to make “ankimo”, which I usually introduce to neophytes as “Japanese fish foie gras”!
Pic taken at Yumeshin, Shizuoka City.
I asked for it served (it is a cold appetizer) as it is as “tsumami” (hors d’oeuvre) with “ponzu shoyu”, finely chopped thin leeks and a dash of “Momiji-oroshi” (grated daikon and chili pepper) on a shiso leaf.
It is also great in small pieces on a gunkan topped with the same as above!

I will explain the preparation in my next posting!