Last of the hirame

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.


4 responses to “Last of the hirame

  1. We’d never seen fish cakes prepared this way. We’ll have to give it a go. Thanks!

  2. It was a matter of expediency – no breadcrumbs in the house, and the oil hot and ready to cook the fishcakes; in the end it was okay. I imagine with some of your Alaskan salmon the fishcakes would come out exceedingly well!

  3. Dear Mr. Guy,

    My name is Sage and I can’t help telling you I truly enjoy your blog so much. It’s so unfortunate that I no longer live in Tokyo. Like you, I’m an avid fisherman and I take care of my catch. Yet I must confess that I’m learning a lot about how to cook in Japanese way from you while I’m a 100% Japanese! Hat off to you, Sir.
    I write a blog about fishing myself. Please take a look when you have a free time. Hope you’ll like it as much as I do yours.



  4. Dear Mr S.,
    Thank you very much for reading my blog and for posting your kind comment.
    I wish I could fish Alaska like you do!
    Whenever you are next in Japan and want to cast a line together, please let me know.
    All the best,

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