Croakers, cooked every way

before my business trip I managed to get in a sea fishing trip with colleagues from work.  One particular boat we sometimes charter has a tie-up with the local onsen, where you fish till 2:30pm and then head back to port; on reaching moorings the onsen has a coach waiting to carry you to the inn, and you hand over all your catch to the owners and then jump in the baths.  Whilst you are having a dip in the hot spring waters the inn chefs whip up a meal with your fish, and when you emerge refreshed and pink from the baths your dinner arrives, usually a great many courses, and your first nama beer is free (invariably a greater number is consumed)!

We went fishing for croakers, or ishimochi in Japanese, and even the most inexperienced anglers among us took a hatful – with a stiff northerly breeze and a handy making tide, neither too quick nor slow, from 9:30am, the fish put up a good show.  The only incident of note was when we arrived at port and as it came to my turn to disembark, the ship gave a little shudder as she rode to her moorings: with my rod case in one hand and heavy ice-chest in the other and my pack on my shoulder, I had no hands free and fell flat on my face into the scuppers like the greenest, most flat-footed, slab-slided landlubber on earth.  Although no-one called out Butcher! and the skipper remained po-faced as ever, simply taking my chest from me and handing me over, a girl on board decided the best way to proceed would be to squeal, loudly, but fortunately and most curiously the only injury I suffered was to my pride and despite such a tumble I could not detect any physical harm to my person.  One of my fishing buddies stove in two of his ribs in exactly the same fashion a few years ago, so I can count myself lucky.  Anyway, the hot waters of the onsen rapidly diverted my attention to the prospect of dinner; croaker is generally not considered a fish good as sashimi (I don’t mind it) but being a very white, flaky fish easily takes up sauces and flavours and can be cooked a variety of ways.  Well the dishes came up hot and hot from the kitchen and we were not disappointed; we ate croaker deep-fried, grilled, stewed in soy sauce, à la meunière, filleted and served with a spicy tomato salsa, and to round everything off, as we polished off a bottle of shochu firewater, clear fish soup.  It was a day to remember on the grounds of gluttony alone, but the onsen is always a great way to end a day’s fishing particularly when it is cold out.  Also, although I like to pride myself on cooking my catch, there is something to be said for occasionally having a professional cook a meal for you, and hopefully these photos will attest to this.

Deep-fried whole fish.

Soy sauce-braised.

Seasoned with nothing more than sea salt and then grilled over a fire; served with grated daikon radish.

Croaker cooked à la meunière; these disappeared very rapidly.

Fillets served with tomato and olive salsa.

The clear soup, to finish proceedings.  Many thanks to Esamasa-maru, sailing from Haneda, Tokyo and the New-Land Onsen!


7 responses to “Croakers, cooked every way

  1. I greatly admire that way you get out and immerse yourself in it all. This looks like it was a wonderful outing. I did a lot of shore fishing in Japan, quite a bit of it from the beaches near Hiratsuka, and never managed a single ishimochi. (I’d wanted at least one so I could put a checkmark next to it.) Anyway, looks like a ball and well done!

  2. Shame you didn’t snag one when you were over here; they are aggressive predators and put up a good fight when hooked. They taste pretty good too!

  3. adam what is the price total for a fun winter day adventure like that I am coming to japan with my gf ryoko soon and want to take her to this place!

  4. i mean price tag lol

  5. Hi SHAR,
    Depends on the fish you are targetting (bait/gasoline costs differ depending on the fish), but we paid 11,000 yen per angler, 10 anglers minimum…
    All the best,

  6. ご無沙汰をしております。

  7. shin-imさん、

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