Dried Fish/Himono/干物 in Mochimune!
Houbou/竹麦魚、魴鮄/Bluefin Robbin (Red Gurnard) Himono
Mochimune is known all over Japan for its fishing harbor whose main catch is shirasu/白子/Whitebait. The fishing for thw latter will come into full gear in Spring, but that is for another article.
The signs for shirasu/しらす will be floating everywhere soon!
Mochimune is also a fine touristic spot known for its large black pebble beach and great views of the Izu Peninsula on clear days!
Quite a few interesting shops and restaurants (one coming soon!) are to be discovered among the narrow streets.
“Marukai”, a small fish shop
Of course one can discover all the fish and the processed goods at the fish Market beside the harbor, but it is also great fun to wander away along narrow avnues to look at the small shops processing and seeling seafood from the Suruga Bay.
One typical product, and Shizuoka Prefecture produces 50% of the total in Japan, is “himono”!
Himono is sun-dried fish that Japanese (and foreigners) are very fond of grilling any time of the day or the year.
Each shop has its own recipes and they are all worth a second and third look!
Saba/鯖/mackerel from Marukai drying across the street!
For a closer view!
I consider it the best way to appreciate mackerel. Perfect snack with a good beer!
You will also find orange trees everywhere (I don’t think their woners will really mind if you pick one to taste!LOL)
These are Houbou/竹麦魚、魴鮄/Bluefin Robbin (Red Gurnard), a true speciality fish from Mochimune.
Also great fresh and prepared at the local Italian restaurants!
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!
Koshiotai/a small seabream variety from Mochimume. Can also be eaten whole.
Look forward to my next visits and reports!
Sakura Ebi: Autumn Catch
November 5th saw the first haul of Sakura ebi/Cherry blossom Shrimp of the Autumn being auctioned at Yui Harbour and Oikawa Fish Market.
12 tonnes were sold, that is about three times as much as last year.
Stocks have been plentiful thanks to very strict enforcement of catch limits self-imposed by the Sakura Ebi Fishermen Association, the first-ever such association in the whole of Japan to impose such voluntary limits of their catches!
Sakura Ebi are exclusively caught in the middle of Suruga Bay.
They are sucked into the boats directly from the nets, ensuring a later release of all unwanted catch live and unharmed into the sea.
Who said the Japanese were depopulating the sea?
Shizuoka Foods Festval at Isetan
From August 5th to 10th (still two days left, hurry up!), Isetan Deaprtment Store in Shizuoka City has finally come up with a proper event for the Prefecture of Shizuoka!
The upper staff of the company having been “changed” due to the recent merger with Mitsukoshi Department Store, we may hope to see a marked improvement in their general sales and events policies.
Although the event in itself was only on the same scale of the usual Food Fairs celebrating products from Hokkaido, Okinawa and Kyushu, that is a bit small for my own satisfaction, it was still an effort worthy of attention.
Here is a quick overlook of some of the better stands:
Two friends of mine were serving some extravagant brews from Isojiman, Aoshima, Shidaizumi, Suginishiki and Hatsukame Sake Breweries.
The celebrated Abekawa (Shizuoka City) Mochi, a very traditional Japanese cake had a stand at the very entrance.
I discovered a really good soba and udon maker from Shibakawa Cho I intend to interview very soon!
Everybody knows the great melons of Fukuroi City!
Kawane is not only producing some of the best green tea in Japan, but have some interesting ways of turning it into food, such as “Kawane Ocha Man”!
On the other hand, few people know that Shizuoka Prefecture and City make some extravagant meat and delicatessen products!
But kamaboko/Fish Paste from Yui has reached the plates (and saucers) in far away corners of the nation.
Farmers in Iwata City and its surroundings have long grown some of the very best tomatoes in Japan!
Do I need to introduce wasabi from Shizuoka City (I’m sorry, but they are better than those mass-cultivated in Izu Peninsula!)!
Matsuzaki at the very tip of Izu Peninsula prides itself with its own extravagant shochu!
Sakura Ebi can be found only of Yui,
but I even discovered a very nice lady whose company makes sardine biscuits in nearby Kambara!
Naturally, I had to close the loop with my good friends at Oratche Brewery in Kannami who also produce some fine dairy products!
Isetan Department Store
420-0031 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Gofuku Cho, 1-7
Business hours: 10:00~19:30
KUE: Fish Stocks Repleneshing Success Story
(Courtesy of Shizuoka Shinbun, Feb 7th, 2008)
For all the battering and criticism that Japan has to endure for being the largest consumer of fish in the World (which is not. Spain is the largest fish single-country consumer, and Europe eats 40% of the World total catch, and throws away more than 5 times the same amount of dead fish back into the sea.), it is way ahead of eveyone else when it comes to preserving and repleneshing fish stocks.
I’m proud to say that Shizuoka Prefecture happens to be the most active region in this country in that particular field. I’d certainly love to take some “people” to the Tokai Marine University Research Laboratories in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City! Did you know that Shizuoka Prefecture alone produces half of dried fish in Japan, including the most expensive such as “kinmeidai”, which can easily fetch over 50 US$ a piece, depending on the weight?
New Yorkers (Courtesy of Chuckeats.com) and Gastronomes all over the world, rejoice!
For the first time ever in Japan, “Kue” (Kelp Bass, Kelp Grouper, Saladfish, Epinephelus bruneus Bloch), a fish costing more than 10,000 yen (100 US $) per kilog, has been successfully bred in Omaezaki, in Western Shizuoka Prefecture!
Yesterday Governor Ishikawa (lucky one!) was offered kue sashimi and nabe yesterday by the Kue Promotion Association in Omaezaki (see pic above). About time permanent expats were allowed to run for local offices!
Winter Marine Products
(Aka Yagara, Red Trumpet Fish)
Now is a great time to vist the marine products stands at Fresh Market inside Parche-Shizuoka JR Station!
Let’s look around and see if you recognize all those creatures!
“Aka Yagara”: Red Trumpet Fish. Makes for great sashimi and meuniere. Also called “Karasu Uo/Crow Fish>
“Mako Garei”, a local Halibut/Turbot variety. Popular in any part of the World!
“Hata hata” or “Sailfin Sandfish”. Typical of Shizuoka Prefecture. Great served grilled!
“Managatsuo”. Nothing to do with Bonito. Local white-flesh fish, great both as sasimi and grilled!
“Tako” or Octopus. Can be enjoyed, raw, cooked, or pickled. Or in Italina cuisine!
“Uchiwa Ebi”. Goes by the Latin name of “Ibacus ciliatus”. In Japanese means “Fan Prawn”. Very popular as sashimi or pickled!
Sakura Ebi Season!
I visited Yui Harbour after interviewing Kansawagawa/Shosetsu Brewery to stop at a booth selling cooked sakura ebi/sakura shrimp just caught in the morning (november 14th).
Sakura Shrimps are caught twice a year and this just happens to be the Autumn catch Season.
If you have the time, go or stop there around lunch, go to the harbour (10 minutes walk from Yui JR Station, buy and eat “sakura ebi kakiage” (a kind of sakura shrimp tenpura/200 yen) with a bowl of “kisetsu miso shiru” (seasonal miso soup/100 yen).
If you are hungry ask for the sakura ebi don (a large bowl of rice topped with a generous portion of sakura ebi kakiage/600 yen).
Do not forget this is the only place in Japan you can eat them that fresh from the ocean!
Karasumi, known as “boutargue” in French, or as “btarga” in Italian, is the dried roe pouches of the mullet.
It is a quite expensive morsel in Japanese cuisine as well as in Europe (that is the real one!).
Numazu City is quite renown for its karasumi, and fishermen have just started drying them under the sun, after getting rid of blood vesels, carefully cleaned them and sprinkled them with salt.
They are served thinly cut as they are in Japanese restaurants, or used in Italian and French restaurants, especially with pasta.
This year’s catch was only one fourth of the usual expectation, so brace yourselves when you open your purse!
The bright side and the dark side
The bright side:
“Taka Ashi Gani” (“Tall Leg Crab”), the largest crab in the world found in Suruga Bay, notably off the northwestern part of Izu peninsula has significantly in numbers in recent years.
Fishermen realized they were catching to many young specimen in the deep sea nets. They decided to preserve the caught crabs and with the help of Heda Marine Association taught local children about the importance to preserve marine resources and replenish existing stocks when they show the crabs to the kids every year before releasing them back to depths of 500 metres about one kilometre off Heda Harbour.
The dark side:
Poachers have increasingly caught “uni” (sea urchins) and “namko” (Sea slug/beche de mer) and the Japanese had to take drastic measures with boat confiscations, heavy fines (between 100,000 yen and 2,000,000 yen) and even prison sentences.
Sea urchins will find high prices on the Japanese markets while China and Hong Kong have an unquenchable craving for sea slugs.
Both command higher and higher prices, due to the decreasing catches and measures to preserve stocks.
As an indication, illegal poaching cases increased from over 900 in 2002 to more than 1,200 in 2004 and still on the way up!
On the other hand the legal export of sea slugs has increased by 43.5 % from 2004 to 2005 to reach 7,900,000,000 yen in sales of which China’s share amounts to 520,000,000 yen, an increase of 60% in one single year.
The total illegal catch was 32 tonnes last year in Hokkaido.