Tag Archives: Shellfish

Sushi and Sashimi: Eat Local!

009

Saurel pike/Aji from Suruga Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture

Very few people will disagree with the notion that Japan is the ideal place to discover and savour sushi and sashimi in the whole world. Nevertheless, there are a few rules of the thumb to respect even in this gastronomic paradise.
The overriding rule is that you should try and eat only local fish or seafood.
Tsukiji might be considered a sushi paradise by Tokyoites, but the cheap prices enjoyed by tourists cannot conceal the reality: the fish and seafood are “imported” from all over Japan and beyond!
More than often, Edomae (Tokyo) sushi is nothing but a clever way to “dress up” ingredients to lure officionados (and customers) into believing they are eating top quality sushi (with the consequent prices).
Now, if you have the chance and time to explore Japan beyond Tokyo, you will discover an unfathomable treasure trove of gastronomic pleasure and knowledge!
After all, this country is a vast archipelago stretched across greatly different seas and climates, making for a diversity difficult to equal.
So, even if you cannot possibly explore all the shores of this nation, make a point to learn about the food available wherever you choose to stay.
The same goes for residents, not only for their own sake, but for that of their visitors and friends!

018

Sushi set with fish all caught in Suruga Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture

You also ought to do some homework. Sushi chefs worthy of their salt will be only too happy to answer questions to genuinely interested customers and come up with revelations of their own.
As an example to illustrate the need for some basic knowledge, in Hokkaido “oyakodon” is not cooked chicken and omelette on a bowl of rice, but raw salmon and its roe spread on top the same bowl of rice!
Likewise, the same fish will more than often be sold under a myriad of names.
Many morsels will not be found anywhere else as “sakura ebi/cherry shrimps” and fresh”shirasu/sardine whiting” in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Sashimi in most cases has to be perfectly fresh as typified by “kubiore saba” in Yakushima Island where fishermen break the neck (“kubiore”) of mackerels (“saba”) to preserve their quality upon catching. The same fish will be served within a few hours, or less, on the local tables.
On the other hand, tuna sashimi is best consumed after ripening for a few days in a refrigerator.
In Hokkaido, large shrimps, especially “botan ebi” will be served only raw, whereas “kuruma ebi” will be first boiled in other regions.

If you ask for “tataki”, make sure it means the whole fish, especially “aji/mackerel pike” that will be served finely cut as tartare atop the dressed fish.

002

Flying Fish/Tobiuo sashimi from Yakushima Island

On the other hand, sushi follows different rules.
Fish and seafood placed on “donburi” (bowl) are usually of the freshly brought variety but fish served as nigiri is prepared in a different way.
The greatest sushi (and this cannot be done in Tsukiji!) are made with fish which has been gutted and cleaned live within seconds, then dressed into strips/fillets left to mature in a refrigerator on clean cloth/kitchen paper. This can be done only with fish caught locally!
The same obviously goes with shellfish and other marine ceatures: One cannot sample better “uni/sea urchin” away from Hokkaido or sakura ebi from Shizuoka.

Vegan and vegetarians, upon finding a restaurant willing to satisfy their priorities should also ask for food grown locally, a search easier than one might think at first as there are many non-meat eaters in this mainly Budhist country.
The same vegetables will make for the perfect combination when associated with local fish!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
Wild River Review
Bread + Butter
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Mangantayon
Hapabento
Elinluv Tidbit Corner
Think Twice

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

About these ads

Marine Life Sustainability and Stock Preservation in Japan

research-fishingship

Foodbuzz never asked me for such an article. I just wrote it first out of concern for some of my Foodbuzz Friends!

It was Lou-Ann‘s surprise in particular which originally prompted me into investigation to back up knowledge acquired though many years spent in this great country, Japan. It is the second time I publish this article as it has become more of actuality and new information has been made available.

I use the word “great” when applied to Japan for a simple reason:
Japan is the one country which most extensively conducts and sponsors research and development of fish stocks.
This country has also come up with some momentous discoveries related to the fishing environment:
-Japanese fishermen south of Kyushu Island discovered that planting trees on small islands increased manifold the amount of vegetal plankton carried into the surrounding sea resulting in an immediate increase of the fish population.
-Japanese researchers found out that building small pyramids on the sea floor with concrete or plastic (a beneficial dumping at last?) blocks attracted corals, sea anemones, seaweed and shellfish, thus creating a food chain for fish. Such pyramids will surely prove more beneficial to mankind than all the Egyptian pyramids put together!
They have also realised that dragging out sunk ships was not needed as the same lost vessels were populated by all kinds of marine life!
In the north of Japan crab stocks are been replenished by simply sinking giant scaffolds to the bootom of the sea, thus providing the delicious critters with the subtarreanean geography they love best!
Sakura ebi/Cherry shrimps fishermen in Yui (Shizuoka Prefecture again!) syphon the shrimp out of the nets before opening and releasing all other marine lie safely back into the sea!

The Japanese have been (unjustly) accused of emptying the seas. Actually Spain holds the world record for fish catch and consumption.
I already have written an article on whale meat. I find it galling that Japan is villified for eating whale meat by the very countries which depopulated the globe of sea-mammals in the 19th Century: US, Canada, Russia, Australia and New Zealand (alright, Great Britain for the last two maybe!) in the Pacific Ocean. US, Canada, Norway, Great Britain, France, Spain and Russia in the Atlantic Ocean. And most of them again in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. What do you think Commodore Perry was before he was delegated to order Japan to “open its doors”?
This country is repeatedly thrown into the same basket of evils. I was recently “told off” because the Japanese kill sharks for their fins before throwing the dead fish back into the sea. Sorry, mate, but you will have to ask the Chinese! The Japanese eat the whole fish when they catch it and make kamaboko from it!

It could go on and on, but this was never the real purpose of this article.

Now, to illustrate and justify the heading of this posting, here is a list of the fish and seafood raised in Japan as opposed to being caught in the wild:

research-honmaguro
Blue Fin Tuna/Honmaguro

Yes, you read it, Blue Fin Tuna! After 23 years of experimentation, a Kyushu fishmonger has finally succeeded in producing the fish from natural mating inside giant offshore sea parks. The fish is already sold over the counter at supermarkets.
No later than last year the Tokai Marine University in Shimizu, Shizuoka City (I live in a great place, don’t I?) also succedein a more sientific manner the raising of the same tuna from the egg, promising that domestic Blur Fin Tuna will roam the same waters in Suruga bay as their wild cousins!
With a ban on tuna fishing in the Mediterranean Sea being pushed through legislation by the EU, Japan will find itself one day in the rich position of actually exporting tuna!

research-mebachi
Big-eyed Tuna/Mebachi Maguro

Human-raising Research is conducted and nearly brought to fruition.

research-kihada
Albacore Tuna: Kihada Maguro

Human-raising Research is conducted and will soon be sucessful.

Note:
Indian Ocean Tuna/Indo Maguro: Human-raising Research is conducted abroad and such fish are imported to Japan.

research-buri
Yellowtail/Buri

Over 62,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

research-kanpachi
Amberjack/Kanpachi

Over 49,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

research-shimaaji
Striped Jack/Shima Aji

Over 3,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

research-maaaji
Horse Mackerel/Ma Aji

Over 3,500 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

research-masaba
True Mackerel-Japanese Mackerel/Ma Saba

Human raising succeeded and fish are already sold over the counter.

research-maiwashi
True Sardine-Pilchard/Ma Iwashi

Human-raising Research is being conducted and could created a real revolution as the same fish also become feed for above tuna.

research-isaki
Isaki/Grouper variety-Parapristipona Trilinoatum

9 tons of human-raised fish consumed in Nagasaki Prefecture alone last year. Shizuoka is also coming up with them!

research-silversalmon
Silver Salmon/Gin Sake

Over 8,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.
Production very fast.

research-madai
Porgy/Madai

Over 71,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year as opposed to 15,000 tons caught at sea.
Al kinds of seabreams are actually on the line.

research-suzuki
Seabass/Suzuki

382 tons tons of human-raised fish consumed in Kagawa Prefecture (Shikoku) alone last year.

research-kisu
Sand Borer-Sillago/Kisu

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

research-kochi
Bar-tailed Flathead/Kochi

Human-raising is being conducted.

research-ainame
Ainame/Alexagrammos otakii

Human-raising has succeeded and some fish is already sold over the counter.

research-kue
Kelp Bass/Kue

A success story in Shizuoka and Nagasaki Prefectures where human-raised fish are already sold over the counter.

research-torafugu
Globefish-Tiger Globefish/Tora Fugu

Over 5,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.
Shizuoka is rapidly becoming a major producer, especially inhamana (sea) Lake in the Western part of the Prefecture.

research-kurumaebi
Large Prawn/Kuruma Ebi

Over 1,700 tons of human-raised prawns consumed last year.

research-iseebi
Spiny Lobster/Ise Ebi

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

research-akagai
Ark Shell-Bloody Clam/Akagai

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

research-mirugai
Gaper/Mirugai

Human-raising Research is being conducted

research-torigai
Large Cockle/Torigai

Human-raising Research is being conducted

research-hamaguri
Hard Clam/Hamaguri

Very large amounts of half human-raised shellfish consumed last year.
All the clams picke by tourist in Hamana lake have actually been planted young there!

research-hokkigai
Surf Clam/Hokkigai

Human-raising Research bein conducted

research-awabi
Abalone/ Awabi

32 tons tons of human-raised abalones consumed in Hokkaido and Nagasaki Prefectures alone last year.
Now, knowing the price of such shellfish and the enormous consumption in other countries, it promises to become a very lucrative business!

research-hotate1
Scallops/Hotate

Over 270,000 tons of human-raised scallops consumed last year.
The shellffish being hermaphrodite, it will become easier and easier tomake and sell. Here in Shizuoka it has simply become ridiculaoulsy cheap!

research-kaki
Oysters/Kaki

Over 220,000 tons of human-raised oysters + over 35,000 tons of the same out of the shell consumed last year as opposed to 1,600 tons of wild oysters.
Actually soon or later the catch of wild oysters will become strictly regulated as many other shellfish. Poaching both by Japanese and “foreigners” is being fought off in earnest.

research-uni
Sea Urchin/Uni

7 tons tons of human-raised sea urchin consumed in Hokkaido Prefecture alone last year.

research-maanago
Conger Eel/ Ma Anago

Human-raising Research is being conducted

research-unagi
Common Eel/Unagi

Over 21,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year as opposed to 610 tons caught in the wild.

In some places, notably Mishima City, eel restaurants refuse to serve wild eels.

research-hamo
Oike Conger eel/Hamo

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

The Japanese have also starting research on different varieties of octopus/tako and squids/ika.

Probably more coming soon or later!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
Wild River Review
Bread + Butter
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Elinluv Tidbit Corner
Tokyo Terrace
Maison de Christina
Chrys Niles
Comestilblog
Greedy Girl
Bouchon For 2

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Shellfish species 12: Japanese Ivory Shell-Japanese Babylon Shell/Baigai

BAIGAI-1

Japanese Ivory Shell/Japanese Babylon Shell are known as Bai, Baigai, Isobai in Japanese.
They are just in season now as we see them over the counters from Spring to Summer.
They used to very common and found all over Japan, but unfortuantely too many have been caught or killed by pollution in recent years.
The biggest specimens are caught off Toyama fairly deep where they can attain 15cm length and weigh as much as 300g.

BAIGAI-2

The most popular way of eating them is to first boil them in water and soy sauce and serve them cold.

BAIGAI-SASHIMI

But the Japanese apprecaite them very much raw as sashimi and

BAIGAI-SUSHI

sushi!

There must be a good reason for the Japanese to call them “Kai no Oosama/King of Shelfish”!

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Sea Urchin Species

UNI-AKAUNI-2
Aka Uni/Red Sea Urchin Roe

Sea urchins, or uni/海栗in Japanese, are popular in many countries, but maybe not as much as in Japan!
The situation sometimes is becoming ridiculous as time and again Chinese and North Korrean ships are caught poaching sea urchins in the Japan seas to export them later to Japan!

There are many kinds of sea urchins, some great, some barely acceptable, and many inedible.
I will keep this posting to the most popular ones in Japan.

EZO-BAFUN-UNI
UNI-EZOBAFUNUNI-1

Ezobafun-uni, or Kaze, or Kanze are best appreciated in Spring.
Most are caught off Hokkaido.
As its name in Japanese says (Sea Chestnut), when fresh it has a firm texture and tastes like chestnuts.

UNI-EZOBAFUNUNI-2

Its roe is a beautiful orange.
Beware of imported copies that don’t mely in your mouth!

UNI-EZOBAFUNUNI-3

Beautiful as sushi nigiri or gunkan!

KITA-MURASAKI-UNI
UNI-KITAMURASAKIUNI-1

Appearing on the markets between early Summer and Atumn, domestic specimen come from Hokkaido (12,000 tonnes).

UNI-KITAMURASAKIUNI-2

Please note the different colour, more yellowish.
It is widely imported from Russia (6.200 tonnes), USA (2,600 tonnes), Chili (2,100 tonnes), Canada (800 tonnes) and Kora (300 tonnes).

UNI-KITAMURASAKIUNI-3

Great as sushi nigiri!
Good quality specimens should be firm, with a definite shape, and leave a yellow colour inside its box or on chopsticks!

CHILI-UNI
UNI-CHIRIUNI-1

Chili-Uni/Sea Urchin from Chili is considered as the best imported sea urchin in Japan and merits a special mention.

UNI-CHIRIUNI-2

Beautiful served as sushi gunkan!

AKA-UNI
UNI-AKAUNI-1

Aka-uni/Red sea Urchin, although of a lower grade, is considered a choice morsel.

UNI-AKAUNI-2

Aka uni roe, some of which will find its way in the following dishes!

SEA URCHIN DISHES

There are countless ways of cooking and using sea urchins!
The following are just suggestions.
Enjoy!

UNI-CHYAWANMUSHI
Uni Chyawan Mushi

UNI-COLD-PEPEROCINO
Cold Pepperocino Sea Urchin Spaghetti

UNI-GRATIN
Sea Urchi Gratin in its shell

UNI-GRATIN-2
Another Sea Urchin Gratin in its shell.

UNI-PILAF
Sea Urchin Pilaf

UNI-RENKON
Uni-Renkon: Sea Urchin cooked inside slices of Lotus roots

UNI-SHUMAI
Sea Urchin Shou-mai

UNI-TOFU-AVOCADO-MILLEFEUILLE
Sea Urchi Tofu and Avocado Millefeuille

UNI-TOFU-SOUP
Sea Urchin and Tofu Soup

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Octopus Species

OCTOPUS-MIZUDAKO-SALAD
Mizudako Octopus Sashimi Salad

Octopuses are common on the markets along the Mediteranean Sea, especially Greece, italy and Spain.
Tey are also very common in Asia, especially Korea and Japan.

OCTOPUS-MADAGO-TSUKIJI
For people living in Tokyo, you will find plenty inside the Tsukiji Market.

OCTOPUS-NUMAZU-HARBOUR
As for people living in Shizuoka Prefecture, go and visit the Harbour in Numazu City!

There many kinds of octopus, some edible, some definitely not!
I will talk here about the main varieties found, sold and eaten in Japan!

MADAKO
OCTOPUS-MADAGO-1

Madako or “True Octopus” will be sold from late Autumn till early Spring.
50,000 tonnes are caught in Japan while 100,000 tonnes are imported, 60% fromm Morocco, 20% from Mauritania and some more from South Africa.

OCTOPUS-MADAGO-2
Boiled Madako from Japan

OCTOPUS-MADAGO-3
Boiled Madako from South Africa

It is very often found boiled in the supermarkets and are appreciated in salads, chyawanmushi, takoyaki and so on.

OCTOPUS-MADAGO-4

But lightly as sushi nigiri is probably the best!

MIZUDAKO
OCTOPUS-MIZUDAKO-1

Mizudako, also called Shiodako and Oodako is a large variety reaching up to 3 metres. It is caught in Autumn and Winter at depths bewteen 100and 1,000 metres in the Northern half of Japan.
It is usually sold frozen. It is then cut when half thawn for:

OCTOPUS-MIZUDAKO-3
Mizudako sashimi

OCTOPUS-MIZUDAKO-SALAD
Mizudako Salad

OCTOPUS-MIZUDAKO-2
It is also very common boiled and pickled in rice vinegar.

OCTOPUS-MIZUDAKO-EGGS
Its eggs are a rare morsel eaten as sushi on a gunkan!

IIDAKO
OCTOPUS-IIDAGO-1

Iidako, also known as Komochidako or Ishidako are caught south of Hokkaido Island. They are comparatively small and do not measure more than 20 cm. A lot are caugt along the Korean Peninsula and China at depths down to 20 metres. They tend to lay their a bit everywhere, even inside empty cans at the bottom of the sea!
Imports have been increasing of late.

OCTOPUS-IIDAGO-2

Iidago are much appreciated cooked whole with their eggs or

OCTOPUS-IIDAGO-3

whole again, boiled or raw, as sushi on nigiri!

CHIHIRODAKO
OCTOPUS-CHIHIRODAKO-1

Chihirodako is local Shizuoka variety found at Numazu Harbour.
It is appreciated boiled or in Tenpura

OCTOPUS-CHIHIRODAKO-2
Its tentacles, boiled, are popular as sushi nigiri!

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Shellfish species 11: Surf Clam/Ubagai

UBAGAI-1

“Ubagai” or more commonly called “Hokkigai” when served as sashimi or sushi have many names in English.
Member of the Trough Shells Groups, they are called Surf Clams, or more precisely, as pertains to the varieties eaten in Japan, either Japanese Surf Clams or Sakhalin Surf Clams as they are collected both along Japan and Sakhalin Islands shores

8,000 tonnes are caught in Japan every year. 94% of fresh/live Surf Clams are collected in Hokkaido, Aomori, Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures.
About 4,000 tonnes are imported frozen from Canada.
They are popular dried, in soups or cooked with vegeatbles and rice.

UBAGAI-2

Their “tongues” can be appreciated as sashimi, but are most popular lightly poached and cooled down.

UBAGAI-3

That is the way they are usually processed before being served as sushi nigiri, either straight, or with a few small incisions for better effect!

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Shellfish Species 10: Ark Shell/Akagai

AKAGAI-5
(Ark shell sashimi in its own shell)

Akagai or Ark Shell tends to frighten potential sheffish amateurs because of its other English name, “Bloody Shell”, not only because of its deep reddish-orange colour, but also because of the reddish water it gives off upon opening.

AKAGAI-1

Now, shellfish do not have blood in our mammal concept.
Bear in mind that many shellfish are used for dyeing cloth, and if if I’m not mistaken, ark shells fulfill both utilitarian and gastronomic needs.

AKAGAI-2

It does require some skill to open and present.

AKAGAI-3

The main “Tongue” and “Thread/Akahimo” are edible.

The best season is Autumn, although they are available all year round. They are pretty abondant along the Japan southern coastlines, but many of them are also imported from Korea and China amounting to 80% of the total domestic consumption.

AKAGAI-4

Ark shells are usually not served cooked.
Sashimi (see top picture) is very much apprecaited but sushi nigiri is definitely the most popular way to savour them!

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-