Summer-time fishing

Hot day on the Bay…

Saturday Aji Fishing

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Glorious weather for offshore fishing over the weekend, and the Tokyo Bay aji put up a fairly good show as well, despite a spring tide on the ebb all day.  It was nice just to be out on the sea again after a hiatus in my saltwater fishing.

This time of year the aji are a little slim and not so oily, but fairly delicious when cooked in the orthodox fashion, breadcrumbed and grilled or fried.  I made the not-so-secret tartar sauce to go with, of course.  As for eating raw, aji in this state are best served as the dish known in Japanese as nameroh, quite literally “Lick It”.  The name is not at all scabrous, but a reference to the deliciousness of the dish which allegedly makes some diners lick their plates clean.  The filleted fish is mixed with fresh ginger, myouga root, sake, spring onion and a touch of miso, before being chopped very fine into a paste.  It eats fine as-is, but some diners like to drizzle a little rice vinegar over it or even soy sauce.  If this pounded fish-paste is stuffed into an abalone shell and grilled over a fire, it is known as sanga-yaki.

After a hot sunny day on the water, Okinawan beer went down very well with the aji.  For some reason my local store has started stocking this beer.

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Aji fishing usually leaves the angler with some fish left over after his evening meal, and this time was no exception.  I cured the fish overnight and sun-dried them next morning.  This time the fish were dried as fillets though they are more often made bone-in.

Thanks as always to Benten-ya, sailing from Kanazawa Hakkei, Kanagawa.

Homemade sushi ginger

Called gari in a sushi restaurant, or beni shouga outside, I made my own sushi ginger over the weekend.  Steeping ginger in the expressed juice of umeboshi salted plums is the traditional method, although basically nobody does this these days commercially – the poor ginger is simply steeped in a store-bought chemical mix and then served as-is.  To make gari in the traditional way, first off you need the ume-vinegar or liquor, a by-product of making your own umeboshi plums, and some young stem ginger.

Then it is simply a matter of slicing the ginger thin, drying it partly then curing it in the ume-vinegar.  The resulting product is sushi ginger.  A true gourmand will know it for its palate-cleansing properties, where one should eat a small quantity between different types of sushi to ensure you enjoy the taste of each.  Shredded fine, it is also a mainstay of many Japanese dishes like home-style yakisoba, okonomiyaki and various Kansai treats such as takoyaki.

Spring-time hera

Very busy, but still enough time on a Sunday to catch some herabuna.

Japan Charcuterie

Special offer on at my local store so I indulged myself in some Japanese charcuterie.  We’ll see how they taste!

Over the weekend my father bought me some cuts of lamb (a meat not generally on sale here in Tokyo) and I suddenly and happily found I had all the ingredients for a Lancashire hotpot.  Perhaps I could dedicate it to Burnley F.C.’s promotion; regardless, it went down well, and the leftovers tasted even better the next day!

Tokyo Snow; Tokyo carbonara

Two consecutive weekends with a foot of snow settling in Tokyo, which is very rare, means two cancelled fishing trips and me staying at home mostly cooking and eating.  My guanciale has come out very well, and I made spaghetti alla carbonara.

Compared to guanciale, which I am obliged to make myself, the other essentials – good eggs, pecorino cheese and black pepper – are much easier to come by here in Tokyo, and it took about twenty minutes to put this dish together, from start to finish.  Whilst I make no claim to making a truly authentic carbonara, there are some pretty sordid variations available here in Japan which I think I have managed to avoid.

Tokyo Guanciale

The first of three pieces of cured pig jowl in my chamber is ready after 5 weeks of drying.  I look forward to making some spaghetti alla carbonara and perhaps the slightly less unhealthy bucatini all’amatriciana soon.  At this level of drying the guanciale is perfectly safe to eat raw as well.  I also sliced the remaining goose prosciutto on my electric slicer; it is hard to cut the meat at a shallow enough angle to get nice slices like these by hand.  Whilst I would consider cutting up sashimi or other fish on my slicer as gross heresy, I do think some charcuterie comes out much better when cut like this.