mid-week I ate the last of the engawa (the “wing” or strip of fatty flesh that runs alongside the outer edge of each fillet) as sashimi. It is a delicacy, with so little per fish, and I savoured every last piece.
Incidentally, this time of the year sees an unusual greenstuff in the stores: wasabi leaves. These have a very delicate texture and taste (they are not spicy like the root) and go well in a green salad.
With a couple of fillets to spare I made one of my personal favourite English eats: fishcakes. A far cry from the sordid pink-dyed textureless abominations served out in school lunches and canteens throughout England, mine are made simple: just poached fish and mashed potatoes very coarsely mixed together, with some chopped parsley and spring onions, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Usually I would breadcrumb these and deep-fry them, yet having no breadcrumbs at home I insted coated them with American cornmeal and fried them in a pan in olive oil. They came out just as crispy, just as tasty and are much healthier cooked this way.
I only really half-mash the potatoes when they are boiled, and make sure the fish is nice and chunky and isn’t broken into strands of nothingness – the overall texture of the fishcakes is crispy without and crumbly-soft within. On the side I had pasta made with a pomodoro sauce – nothing but fresh tomatoes, simmered down to sweetness and very lightly salted – and some mange-touts. The best recipes are always the simplest, and I always feel less is more: with such hirame and tasty Hokkaido potatoes to hand, they require nothing fancy or pragmatical. The whole meal is made with probably fewer than ten ingredients and salt & pepper.
The very last fillet of hirame I preserved in the traditional Japanese method known as kobu-jime; salted and pressed between vinegared kelp leaves. The fish is good to eat for another week or so when treated like this. I like to eat kobu-jime with the shredded flesh of a umeboshi pickled plum.