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.