Seasonal Fishes 12: Shirogisu/Sillago

Posted by Shizuoka Gourmet

SILLAGO-SHIROGISU

Shirogisu, or Sillago in English probably has as many Japanese names as English names.
The Sillago found along the Japanese shores is also called sillago japonica, Whiting or Smelt-Whiting in english, Shirogisu, Kisu, Magisu and Kisugo in Japanese.

The best specimen in Japan are caught in Fukuoka (Kyushu) and Ehime (Shikoku) prefectures from Spring to Summer.
It is also a sport angler’s favourite as they come in all sizes, although the everage will not measure much more than 10 cm.

Standard Shirogisu Sashimi

As a sahimi/raw fish it van be prepared in many manners:
Standard sashimi as above.

Shirogisu Konbujime Sashimi.
As konbujime, it will be matured between two sheets of wet konbu/seaweed to attain a sweet taste.

Shirogisu Aburi Sashimi

As aburi/lightly seared, one can enjoy two different textures and tastes at the same time.
Mind you, it is not easy to sear properly as the fillets are very thin!

The greatest part of the sillago catch comes from Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, China and other Asian countries.
Fortunately, here in Shizuoka, we do catch a sizeable amount in Suruga Bay guaranting freshness in season.

Shirogisu Sushi Nigiri.

If absolutely fresh, shirohisu/sillago makes for an interesting morsel, the more for it as it is quite rare in this sushi nigiri form.

Anglers will certainly appreciate it grilled on the stick at a BBQ on the beach with a nice pint of beer!

But the most popular way of savouring it is arguably as tempura or breaded and deep-fried, although the fish taste will vary greatly with freshness!
But if absolutely fresh, don’t forget to deep-fry its bones and head!

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Sashimi Plate at Uzu (‘10/02/25)

Service: excellent, easy-going and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: very reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients especially organic vegetables extensively used.

Just had our regular visit, the Missus and I last night at Uzu, the talk of the town (on TV nest Sunday!) as far as Izakayas arec ocncerned in this city.

Apart of supremely extravagant vegatables and meat, one can expect the best quality sashimi there, too. And most of it local!

From right to left:
-Isaki/Chicken Grunt (what a name!), both as sashimi and seared sashimi/aburi sashimi (Suruga Bay).
-Kihada Magura/Albacore Tuna
-Madako/True Octopus
-Grated fresh wasabi from up the Abe River, Shizuoka City.
-Benimasu/Salmon Trout from Fijnomya City.

A real treat!

UZU
Shizuoka City, Otowa-cho, 3-18
Tel.: 054-249-6262
Business hours: 17:00=23:00
Closed on Mondays and first Tuesday
Reservations recommended
Credit cards OK

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Crab Species 1: Snow Crab/Sawagani (amended & expanded)

Snow Crabs, or Zuwagani in Japanese are very popular not only in Japan, but also in Russia, Canada and many other countries.

In Japan, they are also known under the following names: Matsubagani, Echizengani and Yoshigani.
The females are also called Seikogani, Megani or Koubakogani.
They are caught mainly in Autumn and Winter.
Their number have decreased in the Japan seas down to a yearly catch of 5,000 tonnes while 60,000 tonnes are imported from Russia and Canada.

ZUWAGANI-MALE-1

(Male Snow Crab)

ZUWAGANI-FEMALE-1

(Female snow Crab)

Male and female snow crabs are equally succulent, but the males contain more flesh and are accordingly more expensive.

ZUWAGANI-MALE-2
The “thorns” of a male snow crab are bigger.

ZUWAGANI-MALE-3
The “teeth” of a male snow crab are triangular in a seesaw shape.
The female “teeth” are in a straight line.

ZUWAGANI-FEMALE-2
The underbelly of a female snow crabis flatish.

ZUWAGANI-FEMALE-3

When buying a female (10 tmes as cheap) snow crab, choose a specimen with as few eggs as possible. Above speciman just has too many!

ZUWAGANI-FEMALE-4

A female snow crab should contain plenty of succulent orange egg sacs (the eggs not yet “born”). Otherwise, there is very little reason to buy any!

Crabs can be eaten in many ways, even raw, but my favourites are on sushi!

ZUWAGANI-SUSHIZUWAGANI-FEMALE-SUSHI

Male Snow crab leg Sushi Nigiri and Female snow crab Sushi Nigiri and its egg sacs!

Suwagani/Snow Crab legs, when lightly boiled can make for beautiful sushi nigiri.

Cheaper varieties can still make fr some remarkable gunkan sushi combining the boiled white flesh and “miso”/brains!

If the Japanese can get their hands on the whole crab, will simply boil it and eat the meat directly out of the shell with a sweet vinegar dressing.
As for the “miso”/brains they will be served in the shell heated again with a big helping of Japanese sake!

Now, live snow crabs make for extravagant sashimi!

The same can savoured in shabu-shabu!

Italian restaurants in Japan regularly serve it in pasta!

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Sashimi Feast at Ekimae Matsuno Sushi

Now, what makes sushi restaurants of so high level in Shizuoka?
Tokyoites will say that they have Tsukiji and that is enough…
Have you ever wondered how fresh fish, shellfish and others are “fresh” there?
“Fresh fish” at all costs has become a very misleading notion.
The fact it is alive and swimming does not mean it is fresh.

All fish must be caught first and depending on their kind have to be either eaten right away or…
For example seabreams should be kept at least a day alive in an aquarium/tub to get them rid of unwanted parasites inside their innards. But at the same time keeping them alive longer will result in a loss of proteins and fat with the consequence of a fast quality decline.
Tuna has to be blooded very precisely first, then frozen. Once thawed and cut it is usually left at least a week for maturing/ripening before reaching the perfect taste.
On the other hand, squids must be dressed and eaten alive (still moving!).
It is a “case by case” (said in English) as explained by the chef at Ekimae Matsuno Sushi in Shizuoka City.
Founded in 1930, the oldest sushi restaurant know what they are talking about!

Bachi Maguro/目鉢鮪/Big-eyed Tuna from Ogasawara/Shizuoka Prefecture, Tairagai/玉珧/Pen shell from Aichi Prefecture, Sayori/細魚/Japanese Halfbeak from Suruga Bay/Shizuoka Prefecture

The key to appreciating top-class sashimi at all times and seasons is to savour it locally. Only then will you be sure of its origin and quality.
Naturally you must also discover a trustworthy sushi restaurant and chef. Not very difficult here where the competition is intense!

Tachiuo/太刀魚/Scabbard fish partly seared/aburi/炙り, Aori Ika/障泥烏賊/Bigfin Reef Squid rolled with seaweed/nori/海苔, and Madai/真鯛/Japanese red seabream, red seabream snapper. All from Suruga Bay in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Ekimae matsuno Sushi pride themselves in providing Shizuoka Prefecture fare whenever possible, including Japanese sake (all from Shizuoka Prefecture!), and they make no bones (fish bones!LOL) about that! Shy and reserved, they will quickly warm up to your questions if asked in a gentle enough manner good manners!).

I sudenly felt an urgent longing for more Sayori/細魚/Japanese Halfbeak after having sampled it in the first sashimi set. It is such a great and delicate fish and ripened to perfection as a whole fish inside the refrigerated display window. It canbe manipulated in all kinds of designs.

Sorry for the fuzzy pic. I’m still getting used to the newly discovered possibilities of my old mobile phone camera (up to 2 MB).

Kawahagi no Kimo Ae/カワハギの肝和え/Thread-Sail File Fish sashimi seasoned with its Liver. From Suruga Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Now, here is a fish you must eat as fresh as possible!
Take it out alive (caught the day before maximum) out of the aquarium, dress it quickly, clean the liver, and serve the fish cut either in thin strips or slices with its liver chopped into a dip sauce, or season the cut fish directly (once cut) with its live, and serve it with chopped scallions/thin leeks and grated wasabi!
Ah, I forgot to mention that wasabi is from Shizuoka Prefecture (80% of the total national crop!)! Actually I’m repeating that every time! LOL

The chef had the grace (and pride) of showing me this (small, although reaching more than 20 cm!) Aori Ika/障泥烏賊/Bigfin Reef Squid live and kicking before preparing it for me!

It was still moving (I mean the very strips) under my chopsticks.
The chef gently asked me to taste it first as it is with nothing.
Incredible! Crunchy, not the merest hint of “fishy” taste. An experience!
Then he asked me to try it with a little salt only. Another discovery!

Last, the chef brought an enormous fresh egg yolk in a small crystal bowl and invited me to add a little soy sauce to it before dipping the squid in it. You must try that!

This was lunch and I am not eating much then as a rul these days.
I decided to skip the sushi for another (near) day and asked for tamagoyaki/卵焼き/japanese Omelette as dessert.
It came in two varieties:
the thin slices were eggs mixed with fish paste and the other were plain tamagoyaki fried with shiso.

Now, how much did I pay for all that?
60 US $!
Have I convinced you?

Ekimae Matsuno Sushi/駅前松乃鮨
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Koya Machi, 9-3 (in front of Shizuoka City JR Station, North Side)
Tel.: 054-251-0123
Business hours: 11:00~21:00
Closed on Wednesdays and third Tuesday
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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Seasonal Fishes 11: saba/Mackerel

Mackerel or saba is a fish eaten over the whole Northern Hemisphere and does come under many varieties and names.
In Japan it is mainly called “Saba”, “Masaba” or “Sekisaba”.
In this country it is mainly caught off Oita, Saga Prefecture, although quite a few are caught off our coasts, especially off Yaizu.
They feed on plankton mainly.

They are prepared and cooked in many guises. In France, my birthplace, they are steamed and then pickled in white wine and spices before being canned.

naturally tinned tuna is available in Japan,too!

In Northern Europe they also eaten half raw as smorgasbrod and pickled fish.

It can be appreciated as sashimi, but it must be absolutely fresh and is best served with grated fresh ginger and lemon.
As far as sushi is concerned, “masaba” variety is best

Saba Konbujime nigiri.

It is especially popular as “oshizushi” (pressed sushi).

Double oshizushi!

My preference goes for Saba konbujime.

Saba Bogata

The mackerel is kept inside a variety of wet seaweed for an hour or so before put whole on top of a long “bar” of rice, then cut to size.

Saba Heshiko Zuke.
Saba/Mackerel has been a staple fish in Japan since immemorial times.
One way to conserve it for better transport away from the shores was “Saba Heshiko zuke”, that is pickled in miso and sake white lees.

Saba/mackerel is easily grilled, either on the stick as above,

or grilled and served cut in slices.

The same grilled saba can be served as oshizushi/presed sushi!

Saba can be also served to a tatsty crispiness by deep-frying it!

Or simmered the Japanese way with miso, sake, soy sauce, ginger and mirin!

A very versatile fish!

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Seasonal Fishes 10: Sanma/Mackerel Pike

“Sanma” or Mackerel Pike usually comes on our plates with the advent of Autumn, but can be found until mid-winter in Shizuoka Prefecture
Known under other names such “Saira” or “Banjyo”, it is a fish with red meat rich with proteins.
In season, the flesh is fatty and sweet.

Its Japanese name 秋刀魚 means Autumn Sword Fish!

It is mainly caught off the north eastern shores of Japan as the fish swims down from Hokkaido.
But the more south it is caught, the less fat it will contain.
The annual catch exceeds 20,000 tonnes, although breeding is increasingly successful.
If you eat it at a sushi restaurant, you can expect its bones and head served deep-fried.

As sashimi it can be enjoyed straight with wasabi and soy sauce.
But as it is a red-flesh fish it beautifully combines with grated ginger, sliced myoga or chopped thin leeks.

As sushi it does come in many forms and can be pretty spectacular as a single sushi nigiri serving!

Another sushi nigiri sample!

In waetern Japan it is very popular as oshizushi/pressed sushi.

Another popular oshizushi version is “bo-gata/whole fish sushi”!

Bo-gata is often encountered as a sushi bento/lunch box!

As it is a very rich fish, it can be eaten simply grilled with its skin and grated daikon and lemon.

It is easy to manipulate such as the above sanma and bacon roll (later grilled)!

Of course it can be simmered Jpaanese style with soy sauce, mirin, sake and ginger!

As himono/dried fish it is practical for carrying and grilling later!

Tinned/canned it is comparatively cheap and can be accomodated in many ways, such as with kimchi!

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Seasonal Fishes 9: Shimaaji/Striped Horsemackerel

Shimaaji, or Striped Horsemackerel is one variety of Aji/Horsemackerel-Saurel.
Although the season is said to be in Summer, the taste varies little with the time of the year.
Striped Horsemackerel caught by anglers off the Izu Peninsula are said to be the best in Japan.
It is known under the other names of Ookami, Kose and Katsuoaji.

In English it called Striped Horsemackerel, Saurel or White Trevally.
White trevally, Pseudocaranx dentex, is a jack of the family Carangidae widespread in tropical and warm temperate areas between 40°N and 47°S, in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has a deep body, and a greenish colour with metallic overtones and a dark spot above the gills. The fins are yellow.
In New Zealand, this trevally is known by the Māori as araara, and is generally confined to waters north of Cook Strait, although it sometimes reaches as far south as Otago in the summer.

It is a great fish to serve as sashimi, either in simple slices as above,

Or the whole fish as Tataki/tartare!

In Shizuoka, where the fish is usually served still alive, the bone and heads will served later deep-fired. Superb snack!

The fish is easy to manipulate to make beautig\ful maki with daikon as above!

The sushi nigiri will have photograpers on constant alert!

See what I mean?

Of course aji can be enjoyed grilled with a simple seasoning of soy sauce or ponzu!

Like most white-fleshed fish it can deep-fired in batter and breadcrumbs at home!

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