Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fish Dinner Night

Pretty Colorful, isn't it?

Wondering what this is? Maybe some of you figured out that this is chirashi zushi (uncaked sushi), but not sure what’s on top, right? Those fish-meat like chunks are vinegared gizzard shad. Many of you probably have had sushi more often than I did, and might have heard the name kohada. That’s what it is. Kohada is often vinegared and I’ve heard a lot about it, but this was the first time that I made vinegared kohada myself.

And this boiled fish is what we call chinu (black sea bream). I had a hard time taking a shot trying to hide the ugly parts as much as possible, because the skin came off here and there... :( Very simple sweet and salty seasoning with sugar, soy sauce, sake, mirin and a few slices of ginger root.

There’s a very good reason why these fish are not very photogenic. I gutted and filleted them myself. I know, I know. I live “in a rural town with abundant seafood from the Pacific ocean” and I’m originally from a coastal town known for fishing. So you think I’m supposed to be good at such preparations? Wrong. I can manage, but it’s a real clumsy work which is a typical “daimyo oroshi” (filleting work that a feudal lord would do, leaving lots of the flesh of the fish on the middle bone). This expression is used among (elder?) professional cooks probably because feudal lords in the past were those who were least likely to gut and fillet fish, and least stingy about the flesh left on the bone. (*Sorry, I just found that daimyo oroshi was the name of a legitimate filleting method. It doesn't really mean "shitty work." )

Why did I go through all those troubles this time? Let me tell you, dear readers. These fish were special. They were not from the supermarket. They were straight from a local river, and I witnessed all the catching process!

Oh, about the dishes above, vinegared gizzard shad was OK, and black sea bream was excellent, though it was small. (* I used instant mix for making the sushi part. Of course! How can I manage gutting/filleting fish AND making sushi from scratch! No way. ;P )

My kitchen is filled with the smell of fish right now. I’m not totally happy with it, but I have to admit that it makes me feel somewhat nostalgic. After all, that’s something I was very familiar with in my childhood.

* And here is the story of how I got these fish.


cookiecrumb said...

Ok, everybody: Is Obachan the greatest adventuress yet?
I'm humbled.
You go, girl.

KT121 said...

Oh,obachan you're too modest!Your fish preparation looks perfectly fine to me.Freshly caught fish...must have been delicious!

Cookiecrumb,one vote for obachan from me.

Anonymous said...

Will you adopt me ... no, I'm probably older than you, so may I adopt you??
Back in the sunny days of my childhood, (in London's East End) my mother made Soused Herring ... it was baked, herring in vinegar ... so delcious.
If you keep on posting these dishes, I may need to get back to cooking ..,
God bless, Christine

Anonymous said...

is the pickled kohada like a mackeral? It's skin looks similar and I have heard of the mackeral in vinegar....everything looks wonderful....such dedication to cooking..ahhhhhhh

obachan said...

Ahhhhhhh~~~ Sorry. I bluffed. I did nothing adventurous --- I was just sitting on the boat, watching, taking photos ;P

Thanks for the vote, but now I feel guilty…

Yes, please adopt me and feed me with soused herring! (Maybe I’m older than you, though…) That must be the food strongly related to your childhood memories. :)

Mmmm… it’s hard to say. The texture of each fish is different, and for the vinegared one, it’s hard to tell the texture because of the vinegar effect. Sea bream is really nice. When boiled, its flesh comes off from bones easily in big chunks, and still so soft and juicy. It’s an expensive fish here in Japan.

I guess kohada is a lighter tasting fish than mackerel. Looks like fish with blue, shiny skin are often vinegared…like sardine, kohada, mackerel, herring… I wonder if they belong to the same group.
(If I were really dedicated to cooking, I wouldn’t have used the instant chirashi-zushi mix. ;P )

Anonymous said...

I like the colourful photo, Obachan. I would like to share some photos (food, home and garden) with you. May I send them to your e-mail?

Anonymous said...

Do you have any other e-mail account besides hotmail? Hotmail has a small storage space. If you don't, then I'll send them in batches over a period of several days if that's okay.

obachan said...

Amber Amethryne
Thanks but I only have hotmail address. What about trying one of those free photo-sharing stuff like Flickr?

Oh, hi! Nice to hear from you :) I’ve never tried kohada sashimi, either. Your grandma must have been eating real good kohada if she loved it so much.

Anonymous said...

Obachan, I've a website, but most of the contents aren't for public viewing (on purpose, no nudity or weird photos, I promise!). I'll send you an invite so you can sign up as a member & be my contact (for site viewing) if that's okay.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to mention earlier that I added your blogspot to the
gastronomy link on my site.

Akubi-chan said...

Wow I love your site Obachan!
I live in Japan and love washoku. I was searching for new recipes when I found your site. I can tell I am going to get a lot of inspiration!
Have a nice Sunday :-)

obachan said...

Amber Amethryne
That sounds great! Thanks.

Welcome to my site. So glad to hear from another washoku fan ;) I hope you had a nice weekend.

Vivilicious said...

Hi obachan! As usual, your food makes me salivate and think of my 3 years in Tokyo, happily stuffing my face, natsukashiiiii!!!! I just bought Kurihara Harumi's book, do you like her food? Keep up the good work!

obachan said...

Maybe you had a chance to try kohada-zushi in Tokyo because kohada from Tokyo bay is very famous. About Harumi Kurihara, my younger sister used to be crazy about her. I’ve tried a couple of recipes that my sis forwarded to me from Harumi Kurihara’s cookbook and I liked them. (I sort of had an impression that the media wanted to make her into something like Japanese version of Martha Stewart. Well, I could be wrong.)

obachan said...

Hi glutton rabbit,
Sorry that I forgot to respond to your comment. “Jewel bako” sounds interesting. It actually sounds like some kind of pun to me and I wonder if that’s what they meant when they gave that name to the chirashi-zushi. We do have bento box called “jubako” which is a tier of flat, square lacquer boxes. (“Ju” means “tier” and “bako” is “boxes.”) They are not casual, every-day bento boxes but used for rather special, traditional occasions incl. New Year’s day. And chirashi-zushi can be packed in such jubako sometimes. Maybe “jewel bako” came from the “jubako” and/or the variety of chopped ingredients in chirashi zushi are compared to jewels?