Kawahagi or Thread-sail Filefish (or simply Filefish) is an angler’s favourite in summer, although it is caught almost all year round in Shizuoka.
Like any other fishes, it has other names such as “Gihagi, “Hagi”, “Gyuu”, “Subuta” or “bakuchiuchi”.
It is fairly common in Central and South Japan.
It is called Leatherjacket down in Australia where it is considered a pest!
The skin should be rough like that of a shark and brightly coloured.
Avoid sticky skin fish.
The bigger the size, the greater the taste (anglers, enjoy!)
In Kansai area, it replaces Fugu/Globefish when it is out of season for its similarity as sashimi.
Actually it makes for superlative sashimi as demonstrated by the above O-Tsukuri served at Sushi Ko in Shizuoka City!
The same served with its own liver dip!
It can make for a spectacular sashimi presentation as a whole fish sashimi plate!
Both its flesh and liver can served raw!
Australians would be surprised to discover it served as tartare on Italian-style crostinis!
The perfect Kawahagi sushi nigiri must have be topped with its liver!
Cut in small slices, it makes for beautiful sushi gunkan!
Cooked, it is very popular simmered in soy sauce, mirin and sugar. A great accompaniment for a nice bowl of freshly steamed rice!
If you want to serve it as tempura, first season it with umeboshi/Japanese pickled plums flesh of the sweet kind.
Now, what does this remind you of? Foie gras? Almost right! Grilled kawahagi Liver!
Savouring the full Filfish meal at Sushi Ko, Shizuoka City:
Back in June, as I had to atone for some somewhat egoistical pleasure-seeking, I took the Missus to our favourite Sushi Restaurant in Shizuoka City, namely Sushi Ko,located along Aoba Park.
Although we did order the inevitable favourites, “katsuo/bonito” sashimi, “Shirako to Ankimo/Combination of Cod Sperm sacs and Frogfish/Monkfish liver”, “Pon Kara Maguro/Deep-fried tuna cubes”, “Shishamo/Spirinchus lanceolatus”, “Hotate/Scallops”, “Maguro Zuke/Marinated Tuna sushi”, and “Amaebi nigiri to Shiraebi Gunkan/Sweet shrimp and white shrimp sushi”, the star of the day was “Kawahagi/Filefish”!
The chef took a splendid live specimen (see top pic) just caught off Mochimune coast in Shizuoka City out of the “aquarium” and proceeded to serve the complete fish in three different manners:
After having taken away the inedible skin, the chef first cut the fillets into very thin slices to be served with thin leeks and dip sauce made of ponzu mixed with the fresh liver of the same fish. As now is the best season, those comparatively thin fish come up with enormous livers!
The chef managed to keep four slices aside to prepare nigiri with the fish flesh topped with a piece of its liver, some “momiji oroshi/grated daikon with chili pepper” and seasoned with ponzu!
The “cheeks bones” with their meat were last deep-fried and served as they are with some lemon. Simple and great!
All this with one single fish!
shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho. 2-3-1 (Aoba Koen)
Business Hours： 17:00~25:00. 17:00~23:00 （Sundays）
Closed on Wednesdays
Credit cards OK
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6 thoughts on “Japanese Seasonal Fish: Kawahagi/Thread-sail Filefish”
Excellent write up! I caught three of these off the coast of Miami today and this article was an incredible inspiration. Very good eating fish
Always glad to please!
Trying to catch up alll your posts. These nigiri surely are making me hungry even after I just has a nigiri lunch.
Dear Christina, there are plenty more fish to come!LOL
You had all of these?!
Even I (Japanese) never had such wonderful fish foods!!!
Yes, but not all the same time!LOL