Sorry for the erratic posting lately. Anyway, here are the fruits of my last aji fishing trip. November isn’t really the best time to eat aji (for the gourmand, the best eating season is late spring/early summer) but if you are lucky like I was this trip, you usually catch some mackerel as by-catch. At this time of year mackerel is considered so good there is a Japanese proverb: aki saba yome-ni kuwasu-na, lit. don’t feed your wife autumn mackerel. Considering there is also a proverb “don’t feed your wife autumn aubergines”, I don’t think either should be taken too seriously…but anyway, on to the eating!
Sashimi! (with a side order of walnutwood-smoke salmon)
Shoyu/mirin deep-fried mackerel chunks (sorry for the blurriness, but by this time it had been a long day)!
The “secret” tartar sauce was made and wheeled out to great acclaim…
…and dolloped on the breadcrumbed aji in generous amounts.
Leftover aji fillets were salted down:
…flavoured with mirin and toasted sesame seeds and left out on the balcony to dry overnight. Winter here is so dry the fish is ready in about eight hours, just in time for breakfast!
As fun as it has been, no more cephalod-fishing for me this year, I think. Instead I went aji fishing!
Split, cured in brine and set to dry overnight; this photo shows them ready at about 7am the morning after fishing. These are a staple of Japanese cuisine and many a bleary-eyed foreign guest staying at a traditional ryokan has been startled by being served these for breakfast. They want just a little grilling under the fire till the flesh is cooked through and the skin side is crispy. The photo below shows what they look like skin side-up just after they come out of the brine.
This time aji caught in Tokyo Bay. The fish weren’t very big but plenty in the bag. These are just fillets before they are breadcrumbed and deep-fried. The leftover fish will be split, salted and left out to dry overnight tonight.
Once fried these were consumed as quickly as possible, with just a squeeze of lemon and of course my “secret” tartar sauce. There were no leftovers of either.
There’s all sorts on this part of the Bay…
I’m still around, sorry for the lack of posts but I have been a bit busy lately. Last weekend I managed to get out for some aji fishing with my workplace’s fishing club and caught some tasty fish for the pot. I gave away most of my bag to those who didn’t catch much but there was still plenty left for me when I got home. These were cut into single fillets, breadcrumbed and shallow-fried in olive oil.
Glorious weather for offshore fishing over the weekend, and the Tokyo Bay aji put up a fairly good show as well, despite a spring tide on the ebb all day. It was nice just to be out on the sea again after a hiatus in my saltwater fishing.
This time of year the aji are a little slim and not so oily, but fairly delicious when cooked in the orthodox fashion, breadcrumbed and grilled or fried. I made the not-so-secret tartar sauce to go with, of course. As for eating raw, aji in this state are best served as the dish known in Japanese as nameroh, quite literally “Lick It”. The name is not at all scabrous, but a reference to the deliciousness of the dish which allegedly makes some diners lick their plates clean. The filleted fish is mixed with fresh ginger, myouga root, sake, spring onion and a touch of miso, before being chopped very fine into a paste. It eats fine as-is, but some diners like to drizzle a little rice vinegar over it or even soy sauce. If this pounded fish-paste is stuffed into an abalone shell and grilled over a fire, it is known as sanga-yaki.
After a hot sunny day on the water, Okinawan beer went down very well with the aji. For some reason my local store has started stocking this beer.
Aji fishing usually leaves the angler with some fish left over after his evening meal, and this time was no exception. I cured the fish overnight and sun-dried them next morning. This time the fish were dried as fillets though they are more often made bone-in.
Thanks as always to Benten-ya, sailing from Kanazawa Hakkei, Kanagawa.