Acquired Tastes

Anikimo: Presentation


I have already introduced the recipe for preparing Ankimo/Frogfish Liver (Japanese Foie Gras) in a precedent article.

Although there are very few variations possible from the basic recipe, Lindsay at DeLuscious Life will be glad to hear that there exist many ways indeed to present that celebrated Japanese culinary experience:

It could be the very traditional and simple manner of just serving it inside a lacquer bowl:
(Fuji Sushi, Shizuoka City)
Another very traditional way is to present it cut in round slices with ponzu, chopped thin leeks and “momiji oroshi/grated daikon with chili pepper”:
(Sushi tetsu, Shizuoka City)
As it is easy to shape, you could emulate Sushi Ko’s, Shizuoka City, creation:

Now, there is a slightly more complicated, if not tradtional fashion to prepare ankimo.
Suehiro Hamanako No Aji in Hamamatsu City cooks the ankimo again (after steaming it) in soy sauce, mirin and sake, and probaly one more secret ingredient, obtaining a great morsel reminiscent of real terrine or pate:
to be served as follows:
two diiferent tastes and aspects!

Ankimo is rapidly acquiring great popularity abroad, especially in the States where it is served in a traditional but definitely imposing way:
(Courtesy of
or as a totally new gastronomic adventure such as “Ankimo with Plum sauce and Truffles”!
(Courtesy of

Let’s seee if we can discover more!

Namako/Sea Slug


“Namako” (in Japanese) has all kinds of English (and not so English) names: seslug, sea cucumber, trepang, beche de mer. The Chinese have always been a bit crazy about them inciting Europeans to trade them as far back as the 17th Century. The Chinese themselves have made themselves somewhat notorious for ollegal catching in Japanese seas…
namako2.jpg namako3.jpg
They come in various colopurs (the red one is the most popular) and names: “manamako”, “Akako”, and “Kaiso”.
They are caught all along the Japanese shores.
Numazu Harbour in Shizuoka Prefecture is renown for its catches in winter, the best season as far as taste is concerned.
There are many ways to prepare it:
namako-sumono.jpg namako-chaburi.jpg
“Namasu” or namako pickled in vinegar and 2Namako Chaburi” are the most popular ways, but many people appreciate them cut in raw slices.
Even the insides/innards are appreciated under the name of “konowata” and are usually served as “gunkan” style sushi.
Tarako/Cod Roe

As much as I love Cod Whiting (“Shirako”), I have some reservations about Cod Roe or “Tarako”.
Tarako comes in two shapes:
1) fresh as it is
2) pickled in chili pepper, a very popular delicay in Japan under the name of “Mentaiko”, which originally came from Korea (“myonte”).

If it is fresh I appreciate grilled over charcoal until it becomes pink dry in the middle.

but most Japanese like it on top of freshly steamed rice oin “chazuke” (rice topped with hot tea)

Unfortunately it is not easy too find, whereas

“Mentaiko” can be bought at any good supermarket or fishmonger.
It does come in many varieties and fluctuating quality.
Although most cod is caught off Siberia and North America, mentaiko is of course prepared in Hokkaido, but also in Kyushu. Actually “mentaiko” represents 70% of all “tarako” sold as it is easy to preserve.
When you choose a pack, ascertain there is no water under it and that the colour is even and shiny (which means the outer “skin” is fine).

As for sushi, there are many possibilities with maki filled with mentaiko and raw squid (“ika”=ikamentaiko maki), mentaiko with cucumber sticks, etc.

Now for nigiri, I discovered this interesting combination in above picture:
the “shari” (rice ball) is topped with a slice of grilled tofu, then secured with a strip of “nori” (dried seaweed) and topped with fresh mentaiko. Mind you this a favourite for my better (worse?) Japanese half, not for me!

Ankimo/Frogfish Liver


“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!

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!


Shirako/Cod Whiting

(Sushiya No Ichi, Shizuoka City)

“Shirako” is “whiting”, or in more prosaic terms, male fish sperm sacs.
It seems to be an acquired taste even for the Japanese.
The most available kind is that of “tara”, or cod. Do not confuse it with “tarako”, which is the exact opposite as it means female cod roe!
Other kinds, more expensive and tasty, are those of “tai” (seabream ) and “fugu” (globefish).
The best way to enjoy it is either:
as a “tsumami” (snack) with ponzu, momijioroshi (grated daikon with chili pepper) and some finely chopped thin leeks. Fresh seaweed is optional.
As a sushi, either on top of a gunkan. Ask your sushi chef to season it, so as to avoid the chore of dipping it into shoyu, or, if your chef is a real expert, as a nigiri. The last might seem difficult. Actually, there are two tricks to stabilize the “shirako” on the “shari” (rice ball): coat the the “shari” with chopped thin leeks, or put the “shirako” on a “shiso” (perilla/beefsteak plant) leaf, place the “shari” on top, press very lightly and turn it over!

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Why may Shizuoka people be justified in assuming they eat some of the best in Japan?

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