“Japanese charcuterie”

The 2016 batch of homemade shiokaraShiokara is a ritual I do every year.  This is genuine charcuterie, with the squid preserved with salt and the innards fermented using bacteria.  Whilst shiokara is ambrosia to some it is death to others who visit these shores; I belong to the former group.  This batch earned me a number of drinks at my local izakaya, from other enthusiasts.  The sad reality is, most of the shiokara you buy in the shops or are served in bars are the fake, non-fermented variety, with lots of citric acid to preserve it and give it tang, and plenty of sugar and food colouring to make it resemble the real thing.  Real shiokara uses nothing but squid and salt in its making, and maybe a slug of sake to thin out the fermented livers at the end.  Some people may add chopped yuzu or katsuobushi according to their wont – I do not.

French, this time

New charcuterie hanging up in the chamber: saucisson sec.  These have been in for about two weeks.  They contain only pork, salt (both kinds), crushed black pepper, white wine and garlic (and of course a bacteria culture to ferment them).  Nothing fancy and no overdoing it with the seasonings. In reality their colour is a much richer pink but it is hard to take good photos in the dark of the chamber.  We shall see how these come out.

My favourite sport fishing vessel of all time

Who else, of course!

Also a welcome (and rare, these days) guest…

Sorry for the lack of updates recently.  Very busy (not in a bad way) and also made it to Hokkaido for the holidays.  Will try to post more soon.

Spring fishing

Wind-gall at morn; fine weather all gone…

Fresh squid

Not the freshest possible, but fresh enough that the parasites inside the squid are still alive…

Despite their best efforts to hide this was only going to end one way, the parasites were dealt with and the squid was gutted, skinned, opened out and set to dry on my balcony.  This is all part of my annual ritual of making shiokara, and this year’s batch should be ready in about a week or so.

Leap Year aji

Split, cured in brine and set to dry overnight; this photo shows them ready at about 7am the morning after fishing.  These are a staple of Japanese cuisine and many a bleary-eyed foreign guest staying at a traditional ryokan has been startled by being served these for breakfast.  They want just a little grilling under the fire till the flesh is cooked through and the skin side is crispy.  The photo below shows what they look like skin side-up just after they come out of the brine.

Angler’s perquisite


This time aji caught in Tokyo Bay.  The fish weren’t very big but plenty in the bag.   These are just fillets before they are breadcrumbed and deep-fried. The leftover fish will be split, salted and left out to dry overnight tonight.

Once fried these were consumed as quickly as possible, with just a squeeze of lemon and of course my “secret” tartar sauce.  There were no leftovers of either.