good day out on the Bay today. It was very hot out, but a strong libeccio blowing all day ensured a little relief from the sun and the aji horse mackerel hooked themselves, quite literally, all day.
I was obliged to stop fishing at around midday, as my cool-box was packed to the brim with fish. Even so I foresee a long night ahead in the kitchen, and lots of presents for the neighbours…
Unfortunately I did not take any blue or chub mackerel today – the orthodox bycatch for this sort of chum fishing – but I had the good fortune of snagging a fair-sized shotted halibut. I have never caught such a fish on Tokyo Bay before and she will do very well sun-dried and then grilled.
In hindsight, it is not surprising I had a good catch today. Not only was I seen off from my flat by Fishing Cat in the early morning, but on arriving at the fishing boat in Kanazawa Hakkei I spotted an osprey right in front of the moorings, in fact one of a pair I have known to have established themselves in the area since last winter. There were just too many good omens to not have a good day on the water today.
Many thanks to Bentenya, sailing from Kanazawa Hakkei, for their excellent and friendly service as always!
Made the trip out to sea with my workplace fishing club. With a neap tide and ebb water all the time we were out, the fishing was very slow and I don’t think my bag even made double figures (some anglers did not catch a single aji). However, I try to go by the motto “fishing is fun, fish are a bonus” and for the first time in many of these trips, we were blessed with good weather and we had plenty of ice-cold beers and shochu mixers to pass the time the fish weren’t biting. In the afternoon I managed to snag a good-sized aji and so made sashimi on deck, after despatching the unfortunate fish in ice-water first:
I also was lucky with by-catch and caught some sardines and a foot-long rockfish known in Japanese as kasago. The sardines I scaled and then threaded onto a line and dried in the sun; they make an excellent snack grilled and eaten whole, head and all. I gave these to one of my fishing buddies at the end of the day so unfortunately have no photo of them cooked.
At home, after a starter of gazpacho (see previous post) I breadcrumbed and deep-fried the aji. Served with my secret tartare sauce of infamy, a squeeze of lemon and plenty of shredded cabbage as a sop to my health, these came out really well and my only regret was not catching more.
The next dish was the rockfish, stewed in soy sauce and mirin in the traditional Japanese dish called nitsuke, made by the memsahib:
Some Western diners are shocked if their cooked fish dishes bear any resemblance to a fish, particularly if the head is included. For me, the cheek meat and darker flesh around the fins are some of the tastiest parts of the fish; the beauty of Japanese nitsuke is you can enjoy these and I think we did this particular animal justice.
The leftover braising liquor contains a great amount of fish stock and flavour and poured over a bowl of rice at the end of the meal is a most satisfying end. Thanks as always to Bentenya, sailing from Kanazawa Hakkei.
A very good day out on the water cuttlefish-fishing. A Thermos flask of strong coffee, doubly-shotted with Bajun rum, kept my spirits up and I was treated to a fantastic observation of Mars and Saturn in the morning, before sunrise. I took a brace of cuttlefish and on the way out spotted a magnificent specimen of P. haliaetus snatching fish at the water’s edge, and could see a snow-capped Mt. Fuji looking regal over the Bay all day long.
The combination of hot coffee and my trusty Guernsey frock kept the cold out – it was about 2°C at dawn – and I even got sunburnt by the day’s end. Proceedings were completed with a Japanese hot bath and a few bumpers of Madeira whilst I prepared Korean-style cuttlefish (ojingu jeot) and a dish of cuttlefish in tomato and ink pasta sauce.
The chilli-cuttlefish came with quite a punch, and I look forward to being able to make this again in the future. The pasta was highly acceptable too, and a couple of cans of distilled rice spirit saw off the end of the meal.
On an unrelated note, an unusual piece of Japanese scrimshaw (seaman’s carved whalebone) came into my possession, a multi-layered inro box. The reverse is somewhat adult-oriented so I did not photograph it, but it is always gratifying to own a piece of maritime history, especially one so niche as this.
A quiet day out on the water today, with the weather being neither winter nor autumn: strangely hazy with a low cloud cover. It didn’t stop me getting sunburnt but a neap tide meant slow fishing throughout the day. I took six big aji and a brace of the curious ‘talking’ fish ishimochi in the day. Compare this image of Hakkei Island, complete with nori seaweed beds, with previous photos…
In hindsight, it is not surprising the fishing was slow; for one, I did not meet Fishing Cat in the early morning when I set out, and when we were at moorings, a river cormorant sat on one of the fore bitts with its wings ahoo, a sign of ill luck if ever there was, before we set sail.
However, the fishing itself was fun and it was nice to get out on the water. Aside from a Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force slop-ship giving herself airs on the Bay, it was interesting to see a variety of vessels out on the water, including some pretty yachts, the odd man o’war, and some absolutely gigantic container-ships. Aji are always good eating and my catch is destined for the smoker; the ishimochi talkers I made a gift of to my local sushi restaurant. Many thanks as always, to Kanazawa Hakkei’s Bentenya.
Very lightly blanched cuttlefish legs and tentacles, tossed with wakegi (a kind of onion, but not spring) and wakame sea-weed and dressed with vinegared white miso and mustard.
Death to some, ambrosia to others; natto mixed with strips of raw cuttlefish and made unctuous with an egg yolk.
At the risk of boasting, or God forbid even enthusiasm, this dish crowned the lot of the cuttlefish-cookery: cuttlefish pieces stir-fried with bamboo shoots, green peppers and XO sauce from Hong Kong. This was my favourite of them all.
means cooking good food; there are very few bad ways to prepare fresh line-caught cuttlefish and after the success of yesterday’s fishing trip I have a great mountain of squid meat to deal with.
First up is the Korean dish ojinguh jeot, or at least my interpretation of it: plenty of chilli but not fermented. This time I made the chilli heat authentic Korean-level and it proved a trebly-shotted capsaicin broadside: a perfect eye-opener with cold beers after getting out of a hot bath at the end of a long day fishing.
Next up was a niche dish, but one of my favourites, made according to Captain Ota‘s very own recipe: legs and off-cuts and things of the cuttlefish stewed in their own intestines, qualified with a little soy sauce, sake rice wine and a healthy slug of chilli oil.
The last dish of the day was cuttlefish pieces in tomato sauce pasta. Very simple and easy to make with lots of white wine, garlic and olive oil; the squid itself put in the reduced tomato sauce at the very last moment and the pan taken off the fire, so that it is just seized and no more. Served with some grated Parmesan cheese it requires little else and was gratefully eaten up. At this stage, there was nothing more to be done – the infernal scrubbing of the squid ink from kitchen and fishing tackle long completed and those cuttlefish not to be eaten this day were cleaned and packed in Ziplock bags and refrigerated - other than finish my glass of native spirits and stumble off to bed.
Good day out on the water today. Many thanks as always to Captain Ota, Asanagimaru, sailing from Kanazawa Hakkei.
The bamboo nori frames are stuck in place at Kanazawa Hakkei; the nori will be ready to harvest in December. I always like sailing from Hakkei and this time was no different.
This photo was from last Tuesday; the weather was still roasting-hot but at least there was a breeze. Today I went herabuna fishing in Tokyo to crown off three trips in the last week – flathead, aji and hera – and we have a another long weekend from this Friday, so we shall see what’s to do then.
Over the holidays I also broke down and bought a secondhand bamboo herabuna rod; my current one, also bought secondhand, is near its end, creaking whenever there is a fish on and somewhat warped beyond repair. I consider it a marvel that it is indeed the first bamboo rod I have bought this year, and it being September; however, in hindsight I have built three new rods myself in 2011! With the autumnal equinox soon upon us it is almost offshore haze season, so I broke out my haze rods from storage and look forward to hitting the water soon. I replaced the black nylon line on a couple of my rods with a new-fangled high visibility white line, and re-greased the joints in preparation.
From the cook-house: salt beef cooked in the Jewish deli-style (of course served with very vinegary dill pickles, hot mustard and rye bread). This stuff is boiled for many hours and then eaten hot, but if instead it is caked with crushed black pepper and hot-smoked, and thin-cut, it becomes pastrami.
I also dry-cured some pork which made acceptable bacon. This time I used a brown sugar cure:
The rashers ended up as a gift for a neighbour, but the end-pieces (usually a bit salty and difficult to slice properly) were easily taken care of in a simple pasta, chopped up and sauteed with red bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms and Japanese shiso leaves:
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Tagged Fishing, Cooking, Tackle & Gear, Random, Slow Food, Kanazawa Hakkei, Herabuna Carp, Tokyo Bay, Goby, Japanese Bamboo Rods, Charcuterie
Picked up a hat-full of aji and some mackerel – blue, sadly not chub – and I foresee good eating this weekend. The leftovers will be dried and smoked.
Pick of the catch: the mackerel and the largest aji. The latter is not even close, in length or girth, to my personal record 38cm fish I caught in the same area in 2006, but it is a good-sized beast.
Thanks as always to Bentenya, of Kanazawa Hakkei, for the friendly and excellent service. The free bowl of hot miso soup at the end of the day is a life saver after a long day’s winter fishing!
Thank you, as always, to Bentenya, Kanazawa Hakkei.