Tag Archives: Japanese Appetizer

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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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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Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
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