Tag Archives: Ibaraki

She Rises! (and a few other octopus-related photos)

The tako-ojisan makes an appearance (I’m wearing a mask because of a cough and I am preparing food for all the family, not because I am some germ-obsessed lunatic).  Here the octopus have been de-slimed (using Captain Yutaka’s secret method) and are ready for eating/cooking…

Somewhat inevitably, the takoyaki machine was wheeled out.

Dessert was takomeshi (one-pot octopus and rice) made conveniently in the rice cooker:

My memory after these dishes becomes a little patchy, but the octopus was delicious and it is all thanks to Captain Yutaka of Yutakamaru, sailing from Nakaminato Harbour, Ibaraki!

Just another dawn at sea

The sea it was a-boiling!

It’s tako time!

Just another sawara dish

This time kobujime, where the fish is salted down and pressed between two leaves of konbu kelp overnight.  It is particularly delicious when eaten with chopped up umeboshi plums, even more so if you made the plums yourself.  Usually this dish is made with white fish such as hirame or shirogisu or haze, but I had all the ingredients ready (in anticipation of catching a hirame, which I didn’t in the end) and it comes out just as good with an oily fish like Spanish mackerel.

Last of the Spanish mackerel

finally disposed of.   Chunks of the tail fillets were salted down and preserved in saikyo miso (large ziplock bag courtesy of Ikea).  To eat, these are cooked under a grill, turned once, till cooked through; they need no other seasoning or fripperies.  The fish can also be flaked and mixed with rice to make a particularly special onigiri.  When I next eat these I will take a photo of the cooked product.

The big pieces of back meat and end-cuttings from the sashimi were all thrown into a big fisherman’s pie.  The pie is simplicity itself: Bechemel sauce, parsley, tarragon, onions, white wine and a bit of Cheddar cheese over the fish then a thick layer of mashed potatoes goes on top, and the whole baked at 200°C till crisp.  This one was very popular with all eaters!

Angler’s perquisite

Japanese Spanish mackerel sashimi

Back from Nakaminato

and the Yutaka-maru!

Still eating hirame

Despite the orgiastic feasting on hirame, there was plenty of fish left over for later use.  First up was engawa, the wings of the fillets, which I made into sushi.

One way to enjoy filletted fish without cooking it is in kobu-jime, where the fish is salted lightly and then pressed between two fronds of kobu kelp.  It comes out cured and very well flavoured and perfumed by the kelp, and you can control the strength of the flavour by how long you keep the fish wrapped in kobu; usually I go for 24 hours for a middling taste.  This I always eat with the chopped up flesh of umeboshi plums.

Filletting fish for sushi or sashimi invariably leaves you with the skin leftover.  Most restaurants and sushi chefs will toss this away (there are some notable exceptions to this) but with bigger fish like hirame or tai the skin is actually pretty tasty grilled, fried or poached.  I like mine deep-fried and send it down with a couple of cold beers.

The last remnants of the hirame were consumed in that highly traditional Japanese dish fish pie.

There are plenty of recipes and versions of this online, but mine is pretty simple: a layer of raw spinach leaves, layer of raw white fish sprinkled with a touch of salt, white pepper and some grated nutmeg, then a layer of chopped up hard-boiled eggs, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, then cover the lot in Bechemel sauce.  The whole is topped off with freshly made mashed potatoes (mine contains wasabi!) and a little Cheddar cheese sprinkled over the top.

Cook in the oven at 180°C till bubbling and nicely browned on top.  Serve with Worcester sauce and/or chilli sauce.