Category Archives: Himono

Japanese Fish Species 19: Seabream-True Seabream-Tai-Madai-鯛-真鯛

There are many varieties of Seabream/Snappers/Tai/鯛in Japan:
Batodai, Hanadai, Ishidai, Kinmeidai, Mekkidai, etc., but the most popular variety is called Madai/真鯛, or True Seabream.

Even Madai/True Seabream is called different names depending upon the region: Oodai or Hondai.
The best season streches from Winter to Spring.
It is extensively raised by humans in Ehime, Mie and Saga Prefectures.
Wild specimen are mainly caught off the shores of Nagasaki, Fukuok, Kumamoto, and Yamaguchi Prefectures. Not so many Madai are caught in Shizuoka but other varieties are abundant especially around Izu Penisula.

Human-raised amount to over 80,000 tonnes a year wild ones are caught at a rate inferior to 15,000 tonnes a year.
Imports are relatively and account for only about 6.500 tonnes a year.

Madai is widely appreciated raw as sashimi in the Japanese style (above),

in carpaccio, Italian-style sashimi!

The Japanese also love them grilled or steamed.

The Japanese since immemorial times have preserved the raw fish in rice miso, mirin/sweet sake and konbu/seaweed, but this has become quite an expensive morsel these days!

(Only relatively) lesser varieties, like Kinmedai, are appreciated as Himono/干物/naturally dried fish, a specialty of Shizuoka Prefecture which produces no less half of all naturally dried fish in Japan! Actually they come almost as expensive!

Konbujime/marinated in seaweed nigiri sushi

As sushi, madai (and other seabreams) are very versatile.
You will encounter them, depending on the region as konbujime/marinated in seaweed (above),

simple, straight nigiri sushi,

oshizushi/pressed sushi,

or zuke/marinated in ponzu, sake, mirin, etc.,

Seabream certainly looks great as temarizushi/Kyoto-style small round sushi nigiri!

Tai Shirako

Like tara/cod, their sperm sacs of the male specimens are highly appreciated and even more expensive than those of cods.

You can have served raw/slightly boiled or grilled as above,

meuniere-style as in French or Italian cuisine,

or on gunkan sushi nigiri!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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Japanese Gastronomy: Himono-Dried Fish-干物-Recipe

How many people outside Shizuoka Prefecture know that half (yes, half!) of all dried fish are caught and processed in our Prefecture, notably along the shores of the Izu Peninsula?
When will I convince everyone that Shizuoka Prefecture is THE true gastronomic region of Japan? LOL
To those guys living in Tokyo, may I remind them that Mount Fuji, Izu Peninsula and wasabi are all in Shizuoka Prefecture? Please someone stop me!

Houbou/竹麦魚、魴鮄/Bluefin Robbin (Red Gurnard) Himono in Mochimune, Shizuoka City.

Actually if you walk around the fishing cities of Numazu City, Yaizu City, Omaezaki City, Shimoda City, Shimizu & Yui & Mochimune in Shizuoka City you will discover all varieties of fish drying in front of shops or homes!

Saba/鯖/mackerel in Mochimune drying across the street!

Tai/鯛/Seabream form Mochimune. A bit extravagant for a dried fish.

Aji/鯵/Horse Mackerel from the Suruga Bay. You can eat them all. Great source of calcium!

BASIC RECIPE

I chose a fish called “isaki” or “Chicken Grunt” (who came up with that English name?) that is quite common on our shores.
The recipe naturally applies to loads of fish!

CLEANING THE FISH:

Using a strong short sharp knife (the Japanese use the same knife to cut and gut medium size fish), first get rid of the scales as much as possible.
Wash once under running clear cold water.
Cut along the back (not the belly! very important) from the tail to the head as shown on above picture deeply enough to reach the main bone.

Once the knife has cut all along the back and reached the head, cut the head in half along the same cutting line.
The head of a isaki being small it is quite easy. It might require some strength for bigger head fish like seabreams. Call the MOTH then! (not the moths, the “Man”! LOL).

Open the fish and continue cutting in half all the way through.

Take out innards carefully so as not having them getting in contact with the flesh!
Depending upon the season, you might be lucky to get male sperm sacks (shirako). Don’t throw that away. They are great simmered with soy sauce, mirin/sweet sake, japanese sake and chili pepper! (see pic below).

Open the fish and clean it under running clear cold water.
Take water off with some kitchen paper or a clean piece of cloth.
Sprinkle with salt and dry outside under the sun until it has reached a nice aspect. You could also smoke it.
It can be preserved insde an airtight plastic bag and frozen, although eaten quickly it will taste so much better!

The Japanese grill their himono/dried fish pasted with a little soy sauce or tare. Beautiful with beer, Good Beer and Country Boys!

Great also grilled with a little salt!

If grilled with salt don’t forget the freshly grated daikon (and lemon juice, and soy sauce…)

The male sperm sacs (shirako) make for a great snack with your beer or sake once simmered in soy sauce, mirin/sweet sake and Japanese sake (and a little chili pepper)!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery