store-bought sushi, conveyor-belt sushi, and then sushi made by a man whose family have been doing it in the same restaurant for five generations, this time with fish you have caught that day and until about three hours previously had been swimming in the deep blue sea. I consider it an angler’s duty to cook any fish I kill but just ever so occasionally, it is a pleasure to ask a friend who happens to be a pro to deal with my catch (and I do make sure he takes a good cut of the bag as well for his own use). I wasn’t disappointed this time, although after the second dish (well-peppered cutlassfish seared on a nuclear-hot pan with butter) I was a bit elevated in my spirits and forgot to take any photos of the cutlassfish arai (scorched then chilled in iced saltwater then sliced paper-thin), or the cutlassfish tenpura, or the fillets seasoned with nothing other than salt and lightly grilled (it needs nothing more) but hopefully these two photos convey a part of the deliciousness (and skill, devotion and dare I say affection, of the chef involved). Thank you so much Mr. N.!
It has rained basically every single day in August, except for my birthday, when the skies cleared and allowed me to drink beer all day in the sun go fishing on a glass-like sea, on a fishing boat from Kanazawa Hakkei.
Cutlassfish fillets breaded and baked in the oven till nice and crisp; of course with not so secret-recipe tartar sauce on the side. In my opinion cutlassfish isn’t that good eaten raw after two days, so I prepare them in cooked dishes. The next was a pie, containing chopped fillets with fusili pasta, garlic, onions, broccoli, Bechemel sauce and the whole topped with Cheddar cheese and baked till bubbling-hot. Off the bone, the fillets go melting-tender and the dish is really a meal in itself. I was rather hoping we could stretch this to three meals but funnily enough, it was all devoured in two sittings.
The very last of the cutlassfish was dealt with, genuine charcuterie-style i.e., preserved with salt. Bone-in pieces of fish were lightly cured with sea salt, and then slathered in a special mix of miso and other things and left overnight in the fridge.
The result is a very tender, deeply flavoured fish that will keep for a week in the fridge and only needs liberating from its miso coat and a minute or two each side under the grill (the cured fish was too long to fit in my stove griller so I cut it in two).
I landed two good-sized inada (young yellowtail) yesterday, both half-metre-class, and would have caught another, far bigger, but the decky was a little slow in stays and the beast threw the barbless hook at the surface as I bawled for the net. I can hardly complain as I already had two good fish in the bag. Both were killed on landing and a line passed through the spinal cord – how the Tsukiji market workers do it, and one reason why sushi chefs’ fish taste so good – and the fish immediately wrapped in plastic and plunged in ice-water. At home, one of the fish was cut into nice fillets and cooked very simply: dusted with flour and quickly shallow-fried in olive oil so it is still soft and juicy within and nice and crispy-browned without. Alongside buttered fettucine, I made a simple sauce of parsley, tarragon and button mushrooms, made in sake and cream reduced with the oil and scrapings in the same frying pan to complete the meal.
One of the tachiuo (cutlassfish) I caught was immediately commandeered by the memsahib, to be eaten privately, so I made do with making the Japanese dish kobu-jime: sashimi fillets lightly cured and pressed between leaves of konbu kelp. It is one of my favourite ways of dealing with fresh white fish, and improved by serving not only with wasabi but my home-made umeboshi, chopped fine. It also means the fish will keep longer (cutlassfish goes off remarkably quickly, quicker than mackerel) being salted and wrapped up in the kelp.