Tag Archives: グルメ

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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Seasonal Fishes 8: Suzuki/Seabass

Suzuki or seabass is a fish so popular with anglers all over the world that a lot of people forget it is also an extremely popular for sashimi and sushi in Japan.

“Simple” Sashimi Plate

Her the seabass was first seared before before being sliced for sashimi!

Like any other fish, it bears many names: Madaka, Hakura, Shiibasu.

In the Kanto (Eastern Japan) area, including Shizuoka Prefecture, it is called Seigo when under 25cm. At 3 years of age, when it has attained a length near 60cm, it is called Fukko or Suzuki.
In Kansai (Western Japan) it is called Seigo, Hane, and Suzuki.

A summer fish par excellence, it is caught mainly in Central and western Japan. But it is also caught in winter in Shizuoka waters.

The bigger and the older the fish, the better it is considered. After a decline in the 1980’s, catches have increased recently, reaching more than 9,300 tonnes after 2000.
It has been raised succesfully, thus replenishing stocks.
170.000 seabasses were raised in 1992!

Great as a sushi and appreciated for it natural taste. A little salt and lemon juice are enough.

As a sashimi it canbe declined in many ways such as carpaccio!

Raw, it can be combined as a simple and sublime salad with octopus for example.

Italian style as fritters combined with a salad!

Of course it is a very versatile fish you can appreciate cooked, simmered, or grilled, although it becomes fragile upon being cooked.

Grilled, Japanese style, with a aonori/seaweed coating!

Grilled on its skin and served French style!

And why not eat it simply as steamed fish?

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Seasonal Fishes 7: Kawahagi/Thread-sail Filefish

Kawahagi or Thread-sail Filefish (or simply Filefish) is an angler’s favourite in summer, although it is caught almost all year round in Shizuoka.
Like any other fishes, it has other names such as “Gihagi, “Hagi”, “Gyuu”, “Subuta” or “bakuchiuchi”.
It is fairly common in Central and South Japan.
It is called Leatherjacket down in Australia where it is considered a pest!

The skin should be rough like that of a shark and brightly coloured.
Avoid sticky skin fish.
The bigger the size, the greater the taste (anglers, enjoy!)

In Kansai area, it replaces Fugu/Globefish when it is out of season for its similarity as sashimi.

Actually it makes for superlative sashimi as demonstrated by the above O-Tsukuri served at Sushi Ko in Shizuoka City!

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The same served with its own liver dip!

It can make for a spectacular sashimi presentation as a whole fish sashimi plate!

Both its flesh and liver can served raw!

Australians would be surprised to discover it served as tartare on Italian-style crostinis!

The perfect Kawahagi sushi nigiri must have be topped with its liver!

Cut in small slices, it makes for beautiful sushi gunkan!

Cooked, it is very popular simmered in soy sauce, mirin and sugar. A great accompaniment for a nice bowl of freshly steamed rice!

If you want to serve it as tempura, first season it with umeboshi/Japanese pickled plums flesh of the sweet kind.

Now, what does this remind you of? Foie gras? Almost right! Grilled kawahagi Liver!

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Savouring the full Filfish meal at Sushi Ko, Shizuoka City:

Back in June, as I had to atone for some somewhat egoistical pleasure-seeking, I took the Missus to our favourite Sushi Restaurant in Shizuoka City, namely Sushi Ko,located along Aoba Park.

Although we did order the inevitable favourites, “katsuo/bonito” sashimi, “Shirako to Ankimo/Combination of Cod Sperm sacs and Frogfish/Monkfish liver”, “Pon Kara Maguro/Deep-fried tuna cubes”, “Shishamo/Spirinchus lanceolatus”, “Hotate/Scallops”, “Maguro Zuke/Marinated Tuna sushi”, and “Amaebi nigiri to Shiraebi Gunkan/Sweet shrimp and white shrimp sushi”, the star of the day was “Kawahagi/Filefish”!

The chef took a splendid live specimen (see top pic) just caught off Mochimune coast in Shizuoka City out of the “aquarium” and proceeded to serve the complete fish in three different manners:


“O-Tsukuri”:
After having taken away the inedible skin, the chef first cut the fillets into very thin slices to be served with thin leeks and dip sauce made of ponzu mixed with the fresh liver of the same fish. As now is the best season, those comparatively thin fish come up with enormous livers!


“O nigiri”:
The chef managed to keep four slices aside to prepare nigiri with the fish flesh topped with a piece of its liver, some “momiji oroshi/grated daikon with chili pepper” and seasoned with ponzu!

SUSHI-KO-2008-10-11
“Kara age”:
The “cheeks bones” with their meat were last deep-fried and served as they are with some lemon. Simple and great!
All this with one single fish!

Sushi Ko
shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho. 2-3-1 (Aoba Koen)
Tel.: 054-2512898
Business Hours: 17:00~25:00. 17:00~23:00 (Sundays)
Closed on Wednesdays
Reservations recommended
Credit cards OK
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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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.

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
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Elinluv Tidbit Corner
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Greedy Girl
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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!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
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Elinluv Tidbit Corner
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Greedy Girl
Bouchon For 2
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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!

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Seasonal Fishes 2: Katsuo/Bonito

Bonito or “katsuo” in Japanese are extensively caught by fishermen from Numazu, Shimizu, Yaizu and Omaezaki Harbours (all Shizuoka Prefecture). The main fishing areas are Shizuoka, Mie, Kochi & Miyazaki Prefectures.
It is also called “katsu” (Tohoku Region), “Honkatsuo” (Kyushu Island), “Magatsuo” (Shikoku and Kyushu Islands. N.B.: the same name designates another fish in other parts of Japan!), “Suji” (Yamaguchi & Wakayam Pref.).
It appears on the markets early Spring~Autumn as “sho gatsuo” (first bonito in Spring) and “modori gatsuo” (return bonito end of Autumn).
They are traditionally line-caught but nets have been used extensively in recent years.

It can be appreciated raw, as sashimi with its skin or without it, preferably served with a saucer of soy sauce (shoyu) mixed with thin slices of fresh garlic, or with wasabi, a touch of lemon and shoyu,

or as nigiri topped with grated fresh ginger a thin slice of garlic, unless you prefer grated fresh ginger with chopped thin leeks.

The same is done with lightly grilled/aburi (or tataki) bonito as sushi nigiri.

Another very popular way to eat it that will please Europeans and North Americans alike, is “tataki”.

The fish is first seared/grilled over charcoal until it is lightly cooked on the whole outside then plunged into iced water to stop it from cooking any longer. It is then cut into large slices and served with freshly chopped garlic and thin leeks, “shiso” leaves (perilla/beefsteak plant) and wasabi.

Note 1: in restaurants specify whether you want the skin or not when ordering sashimi.

Note 2: the same fish is a staple food in Sri Lanka where it is first smoked and then prepared as soup or curry!

It is one of the most versatile fish in Japan.
It can be appreciated in many ways:
As a simple donburi/on a bowl or rice at home (see above picture),

Lightly seared and served as carpaccio,

as bogata sushi/whole fish stuffed with sushi rice,

as oshizushi/pressed sushi,

but my favourite is probably as zuke/marinated in soy sauce, mirin, sake, etc. before being served with a slice of garlic!

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Seasonal Fishes 3: Hirame/Olive Flounder, Bastard Halibut, Tonguefish, Sole

Hirame/平目

“Hirame” could be translated in many ways depending of your country of origin: Flat Fish, Sole, Turbot (although the latter should define “karei”) and what else. There are many varieties, wild or humanーfed. In Japanese, the names are numerous: Hirame, Shitabirame, Ooguchikarei, Oyanirami, etc.

Actually they can be divided into two main groups:

1)The Olive flounder or Bastard halibut (Paralichthys olivaceus; Japanese: ヒラメ/平目) is a species of large-tooth flounder native to the north-western Pacific Ocean.
It is often referred to as the Japanese flatfish or Korea(n) flatfish (광어) when mentioned in the context of those countries.
It is the most common flatfish species raised in aquaculture in Korea. They are raised in Japan and China as well.

Shitabirame/舌平目

2) Tonguefishes (shitabirame/舌平目in Japanese) are a family, Cynoglossidae, of flatfishes. They are distinguished by the presence of a long hook on the snout overhanging the mouth, and the absence of pectoral fins. Their eyes are both on the left side of their body, which also lacks a pelvic fin.

The best season is Autumn to Winter. They are still available until Spring in Shizuoka Prefecture. Wild ones come from Hokkaido and Aomori. Human-fed ones mainly hail from Oita, Ehime, Mie, and Kagoshima Prefectures.

Hirame Sashimi

The domestic wild catch is around 7600 tonnes a year, while human-fed fish amount to around 7100 tonnes a year. A recent increase has been observed in recent years, though. A lot are imported from Korea through Fukuoka and Shimoseki.
They are found in tropical and subtropical oceans, mainly in shallow waters and estuaries, though a few species found in deep sea floors, and a few in rivers.

Hirame can be enjoyed in many ways:
As sashimi, cut in various thickness, according to the chef’s preference and presented artfully.

It can be enjoyed cut in small dices, as tartare, especially shitabirame/tonguefish with tomato and strawberry!

Of course, hiirame is great as sushi nigiri with all kinds of seasoning I prefer it just seasoned with a little lemon juice or yuzu (if available) and salt (preferably “snow salt” from Okinawa!

The Japanese have a fondness for “engawa”, that is the frilled border along the fillets which are usually thrown away in other countries. The texture is different, almost crunchy.

Hirame is great marinated with konbu/seaweed as konbujime/seaweed marinated.

The same konbujime hirame can be served as oshizushi/pressed sushi topped with more seaweed!

An interesting oshizusshi combination is hirame topped with kabu/turnip and seasoned with yuzu juice and zest!

It is also very popular dried as himono/干物, especially shitabirame/tonguefish.

Naturally the Japanese all kinds of hirame cooked in the French way in a simple and succulent manner as above,

or as a beautiful gratin!

Last, but not least, how about grilled hirame with uni/sea urchin sauce?

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
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5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Elinluv Tidbit Corner
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Maison de Christina
Chrys Niles
Comestilblog
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Sushi Nomads

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