Seasonal Fishes 5: Ishigarei/Stone Flounder

Ishigarei, イシガレイ、石鰈 in Japanese, is another popular flatfish/flounder in theis country. For the specialists the Englidh name is stone flounder, and its Latin name Kareus bicoloratus. Interestingly enough these fishes are commonly called flatfishes in Englis, wheeras the Jaapnese write them as “leaf Fishes”!

In Japan, depending upon the region it will be called other names, such as Ishimochi, Ishimochigarei or Shirogarei.
Their season is mainly in Summer in Hokkaido and Eastern Japan, although they might appear a lot earlier in Shizuoka.

Ishigarei is considered the best of all flounders in this country. People generally avoid to catch them during the female egg incubation, but the same egg-bearing fish are a delicacy in Tokyo.

Always choose “lively” specimens when buying them as the taste will soon deteriorate if the fish is not dressed quickly first.
If angler-friend of yours calls on the phone with one of them, don’t discuus and buy the fish!

Stone flounders make for such superlative sashimi that it becomes a bit of a waste to consume in another way.

But who would pass such a Japanese-style carpaccio?

Or an Italian Carpaccio?

Sushi lovers will appreciate it as a sushi nigiri!

A truly extravagant sushi nigiri display. Eat it quickly!

Alright, you were not lucky enough to get it absolutely fresh.
In this case simmer it the Japanese way as Ishigarei Ni (Ni stands for simmer) with soy sauce, sake, mirin and ginger!

Or do it the Italian way with olive oil and dry tomatoes!

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Seasonal Fishes 6: Tachiuo-Scabbard Fish

Scabbard Fish or “Tachiuo” is a summer fish very popular in Japan in spite of its great length.
Tachiuo in Japanese, 太刀魚, means “Great Sword Fish”, not the scabbard!
The Suruga Bay being warmer than the rest of Japan, we have scabbard fish in the dead of winter.
Like other fish it owns other names: Tachi (not in Hokkaido, where the word means ” Cod sperm sacs”!), Shirada and Tachinouo.
It is mainly caught off Wakayama, Ehime and Oita Prefectures.
In Shizuoka it is both caught by line or net.
In 1999, 37,000 tonnes were caught in the whole of Japan, but it fell to 23,000 tonnes in 2000.
It is also imported from Korea and China, although the fish is slightly different from the Japanese variety. More than half of imported fish are eaten west of Kansai.

Scabbard Fish Sashimi Plate

Tachiuo is bot popular raw and cooked.
Raw, it is usually served with ponzu instead of soy suce and topped with momijioroshi/grated daikon mixed with chili pepper.

Raw, it is of course popular as sushi nigiri,

cut into fine strips and served as gunkan.

As sashimi I personally prefer it “aburi” (slightly grilled) with a dash of ponzu and some momijioroshi (grated daikon with chili pepper), or with some finely cut vegetables.

The same applies for sushi nigiri as I like my scabbard fish a little grilled first.

Making incisions into the fish before grilling it will make for another prsentation!

It does not have to be complicated to be yummy!

In the Kansai/western Japan region it is very popular in oshizushi/pressed sushi thanks to its flat and long shape.

How about a combination of both raw and aburi style sushi nigiri?

How about an Italian-style sushi nigiri?

As for the cooked scabbard fish, grilling is the most commoon way here in Japan where it is served as simple and healthy food at many meals.

Sauteed with colourful vegetables (okra) make for great presentation in spite of the simplicity of the dish!

Deep-frying is also very popular especially with its bones when it is very fresh. Such deep-fried bones make for one vital source of calcium for the Japanese.

Fried scabbard fish salad.

Cooked, it is a very versatile fish and easy to prepare!

Grilled with lemon!

Cooked with chili peppers and miso paste, it makes for an intriguing sweet and hot combination!

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Sushi Gadgets

Sushi Erasers!

I’m alway on the lookout for gadgets representing my favourite food, namely sushi!
Not very easy actually, unless I start collecting (or stealing!) the pleastic sushi models you can find in the window displays outsie the cheaper king of sushi restaurants.

Well, I found 3 of them.
All ordered and distributed by Japanese companies but all made in China!

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures but I don’t want to take the contents out unless I can find at least 2 samples of each!

Sushi Magnets!

Sushi (Conveyor Belt Sushi) Stickers!

If you can help with my burgeoning collection, I’ll be very grateful!

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Wild Table visits Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange in the Bronx-NY. by Warren Bobrow

You thought that Tsukiji in Tokyo was the one destination to see all the best fish in the world packed into one location!
You will have to think again!LOL

Join Warren Bobrow, Contributing Editor at Wild River Review, on Wild Table visits Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange in the Bronx-NY. and leave your comments to encourage him to do even more!

A must-read!

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Wasabi: All You Need To Know!

For all my agnosticism, I sometimes think I am blessed to be born in Dijon, Bourgogne, France and lived in Shizuoka City, the birthplace of Wasabi!

The sign at the entrance of Utogi, the birthplace of wasabi!

Around 1600, farmers in Utougi District, some 33 km from Shizuoka JR Station along the Abe River, first started experimenting with the culture of that particular plant, which they already knew as a wild vegetable used for pickling. At the time they were only processing the stems, leaves and flowers.

Utogi Village

If you want to visit Utogi, where you will find a soba restaurant and other shops as well as the possibility of trekking and festivals watching in April and October, either go by car (55 minutes) or take a bus (Shizuoka JR Station/75 minutes). The trip along the Abe River is worth for its own sake with all the changing landscapes and vistas!
I did it by bicycle, but it took me 5 hours for the return-trip from the city centre and had to push the bicycle along forthe last 3 kilometres. Even a maoutain bike would have made it!

Another view of Utogi

Wasabi Monument in Utogi.

They even have their own “Mon/Arms”!

This is still a very popular kind of pickles in Shizuoka where they are sold in season.
In 1604, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Japanese Overlord/Shogun, who had just moved to Sumpu (presently Shizuoka City), grew extremely fond of the grated root and helped spread its use all over the country. Its present culture has expanded outside our Prefecture, especially in Nagano, but Shizuoka still produces not only 80% of the whole crop in Japan, and the best wasabi are grown in Utougi and in the Amagi Range in Izu Peninsula.

This gentleman is the 17th generation of the first wasabi growers in Utogi! Check His homepage (Japanese) where you can order a whole array of products! Look at him in his field on youtube!

Tamaruya stand at Haneda Airport

The first and oldest wasabi shop, Tamaruya, is still very much in business in Shizuoka City and even has a stand in Haneda Airport, Shizuoka City!

Wasabi growing is backbreaking work. You need a constant temperature, so you have to be located at a certain altitude (weel over 1,000 metres in some cases) as extreme heat is not welcome, as well as extrem cold.

Pure, soft, constant water is a must. Shizuoka water is known as the best in Japan as demonstrated by its superlative (and rare) sake.

Fields need constant care during the two years it takes for roots to be mature. You can drink the water in these fields without any fear!

WASABI IN JAPANESE CUISINE

If you want to grate your own wasabi, you will need a grater.
The best (above) are made with shark skin!
Grated wasabi is the most common use for the plant, especially with sushi and sashimi.

Wasabi Flowers.

But the stems, leaves and flowers are extensively used.
The leaves can be eaten raw and are great with miso!

The stems are a delicacy marinated in rice vinegar.

Wasabi zuke/wasabi stems and flowers pickled in sake kasu/sake white lees.
Wasabi zuke in Shizuoka is simply extravagant as the sake breweries sell their best white lees/sake kasu (after the sake has been pressed) to the local farmers and producers!

Soon I will post an interesting home-made recipe for wasabi zuke!

The same leaves, once pickled, can be included inside inari zushi for the pleasure of vegans!

Na no hana/rape flowers boiled and seasoned with wasabi mayonnaise.

Now, you might know it, but thinly sliced wasabi root is not as strong as grated wasabi. In Shizuoka, as it is not that expensive, try and ask your favourite sushi chef to cut it in very thin strips and roll as it is in a “maki”. It’s called “namida maki/tear maki” or “bakudan maki/bomb maki” (the real one, not the buster made with grated wasabi!). A favourite of mine!

FRENCH CUISINE

Wasabi is getting more and more popular in French and other cuisines all over the world.
The above dish was created by Dominique Corby a great French Chef who learned his craft at the Tour d’Argent in Paris, among others, before coming to Japan to look after the kitchen of the Sakura Restaurant in the New Otani Hotel in Osaka and of the 6eme Sens in Tokyo.

His cuisine was created with whole wasabi (1 metre long!) i sent him by cool box from Shizuoka.
These are the best grown in Utogi. Very fat, clean, with no black marks and with enormous stems and leaves. Dominique steame the leaves and stems before serving them with fish seasoned with a wasabi sauce reduction from the roots!

FANCY FOODS

Wasabi Dango!

Wasabi comes into many kinds of fancy food for the pleasure of all, young and old!

Wasabi soft Ice-cream!

DERIVATED PRODUCTS

Wasabi comes into a whole array of derivated products worth exploring:

Wasabi Dressing 1

Wasabi Dressing 2

Wasabi dressing is not that strong and can be used in cold and hot/warm dishes.
The Missus uses it extensively with dtir-fried veetables and meat.

Nori/seaweed and miso seasoned with wasabi is another great vegan seasoning!

Wasabi salt by Tamaruya!

Stewed wasabi by Tamaruya!

Wasabi Shochu!

The only true wasabi shochu is made by Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji, Izu peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture! (don’t be fooled by unscrupulous producers/traders!).

HEALTH FACTS:

-Wasabi is a natural medicinal herb as it contains big amounts of Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin B2 ad C.

-Combined with vinegar, or mustard, or ginger, helps combat fppd poisining, obesity and helps blood flow.

-Combined with Chinese cabbage, or cabbage, or yam, helps combat ulcers and cancer.

-Combine with onion, or leek, or galic chive, helps combat blood vessel ageaing and heart diseases, as well as preserve skin health.

-Combined with chili peppers, or umeboshi/Japanese pickled plums, or orange, or grapefruit, helps appetite and quick illness recovery, helps skin rejuvenation and helps combat ageing.

FOR RESIDENTS AND VISITORS IN SHIZUOKA CITY:

On every first Wednesday of the month, a small but very special fair is held in the basement of Isetan Store in Shizuoka City.
It is called “Shizuoka Utsurogi Ichiba” after a group of farmers residing and conducting business up Abe River in Shizuoka City, up to an altitude of 1,500 metres, around Utogi, the birthplace of wasabi, and still considered the best in the world.
Try to come as soon as Isetan opens as it can become quite a unashamed tussle with all these local grannies fighting for the best morsel!
All products on sale are purely local and practically devoid of industrial fertilizers. It is actually a paradise for vegetarians as only vegetables are represented there. A multitude of succulent and extravagant wasabi pickles, pickled plums, onions, etc.
The names, addresses and even phone numbers of the farmers are clearly stated, making all purchases eminently traceable.

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Seasonal Fish 19: Bora/Mullet

There are at least 12 recognized kinds of mullet being caught all over the world.
The flathead mullet in particular is an important food fish for many around the world, and can be both fished and farmed. The roe of this mullet is salted, dried, and compressed to make a specialty food across the world, such as Korean myeongran jeot, Japanese karasumi, Italian botargo, and Egyptian batarekh . In Egypt, the fish itself is salted, dried, and pickled to make feseekh.

Flathead Mullet, Mugil Cephalus in Latin, or Bora/鯔/鰡 in Japanese will reach length of over 80 cm in Japan, although the average length will more around 50 cm.

It is caught south of Hokkaido near river mouths or in bays receiving lots of river waters.
Like any othe fish, it will be called other names depending upon the region: Isegoi (Western Japan), Itanebora (Ehime Prefecture), Mabora (Hiroshima Prefecture), Tsukura (Okinawa), Kuchime, Mejiro, Hebuna, Haku, Makuchi, Kurome, or Merome.

It is a versatile fish:

Served raw as sashimi in Jpaanese Cuisine or,

as carpaccio in Italian style.

It is more unusual as sushi nigiri (front two) and will probably be found as such only locally.

To answer a query from Luke, it is more encountered cooked:
Deep-fried and served with a soy-based sauce is common to many asian countries.

Deep-fried before being served wit a sweet and saour sauce,

or the same again with tofu is popular in Taiwan (and in Japan!).

First steamed and then served with a sauce made with sweet pickled plum and miso is supposed to be of Chinese origin, but can be found again in many Asians countries.

But for all these recipes, the most valuable (and very expensive at that!) is the roe of the female mullets!

It is served as it is extavagantly in Japanese or Italian cuisine sashimi or carpaccio.

The combinations are infinite!

An extravagant salad of Japanese and Italian inspiration!

Grated over an extragant pasta dish!

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Seasonal Fishes 4: Makogarei/Mako Turbot

“Makogarei” or Pleuronectes yokohamae Gunther for the specialists is one of the many kinds of turbot indigeneous to Japan.
You will find it on the markets between June and August.
Depending where you live, you might do well to know its other names: “Aome” (Sendai), “Mushibirama” (Konahama), “Mako” (Tokyo) or “Amakarei” among many.
It is net-caught all around Japan.

It has comparatively a lot of flesh for a turbot, making it a choice morsel for nigiri or sashimi.

It can reach a length of 30 cm. Contrary to many other fish, the size will bear no incidence on the taste, but if you wish for extra taste, avoid female specimen bearing eggs/roe, and if possible, although a bit extravagant, choose a live fish (possible at Parche, Shizuoka JR Station!).
A good sushi or Japanese restaurant will deep-fry the bones and head for you, making for a great snack with great ale!

As a sushi nigiri, it is served as it is, and can be savoured with a little salt and lemon juice only as seasoning.

Many people also ask their sushi nigiri seasoned with tare/sauce.

One more way is to present it as konbujime/marineated in seaweed.

being a large fish, it can be easily manipulated into bo sugata sushi/baton sushi with the rice inside the fish.

Small specimens are appreciated grilled whole with some lemon, soy sauce and grated daikon.

Another popular cuisine is to stew/simmer the whole fish in soy sauce, mirin and sake as ni-zakana.

The sperm sacs/shirako of the male specimens are much appreciated in European-style cuisine!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
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Bread + Butter
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Comestilblog
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