Monday, September 12, 2005

Fishing is yummy

fishing1Picking up where I left off yesterday, I'm sharing with you what a wonderful feast we had with the fish we caught this weekend. Being Japanese, we eat everything we fish, a sentiment echoed by all three of my Japanese friends there. Ted, an amazing culinary champion, gracefully sliced and cleaned all nine fish we caught in a matter of minutes as I watched in awe. When I woke up from my nap a short while later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a feast had been prepared with the fish we caught! Two kinds of rock cod and king fish, all ready to nourish our bodies along with our spirits! I said a little 'prayer', thanking them for their sacrifice as I licked my lips in anticipation.

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The two rock cods - one each from the two master calamari fishers - were given the glorified treatment of being served as sashimi. Fresh, raw slices of thinly sliced meat were full of sweetness and comfortable texture. With each bite, the subtle sweetness of the flesh spread along with the enticing aroma of the ocean. The two cods differed slightly in firmness, with the darker cods providing more texture, which consequently led to more sweetness as I let the pieces linger in my mouth longer. With a touch of powerful wasabi and soy sauce, this was one satisfying plate of sashimi!!

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Ted followed the wonderful sashimi platter with something that hit the spot perfectly for me. He called this soup, "Ushio jiru", which directly translates to "Tide (or Ocean) Soup". This soup embodies the Japanese spirit of eating everything one catches, as the main ingredient of the soup is the bones and meat around the bones left after the majority of the fish has been consumed already. He briefly blanched the bones in boiling water to get rid of the 'fishiness', then transferred the bones into a pot with cold water to boil into soup. The bones release their flavor and essence as they cook as the water boils. He flavored the soup with ginger, green onions, and salt, used sparingly to maximize the scent of the fish and the ocean. The soup brought back the breeze from Capitola right into his San Jose apartment. All three of us sat in silence as we slurped the soup up, feeling our bodies warmed and comforted by the delicate subtlety of the fish broth.

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Our last course for the evening was deliciously grilled King fish. Ted dressed the fish was coarse salt and threw them on the grill on his patio for the perfect Japanese 'shioyaki' (salt-grilled). The flesh was tender with perfectly balanced bitterness of the salt minerals. The scortched skin provided a wonderful backdrop of appetizing aroma that stirred a primordial satisfaction of devouring whole fish.

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The company was absolutely delightful all throughout the day and this feast to top off a wonderful day couldn't have made for a better Saturday. One of the highlights for me was the fact that all four of us were conscious of the fish's sacrifice. We all agreed that it was the fisher's responsibility to eat the fish one catches, and that not only is fishing an enjoyable hobby, but also it is a means of coming face-to-face with our food. The fact that all four of us agreed on that fundamental premise made me feel even closer to my new friends.

Thank you for a spectacular time, Ted, Shuko-san, and Yoko-san!!

6 comments:

Brett said...

Wow, that's what I call fresh fish! Thank you for sharing your lovely photos and stories of you fishing trip.

The Papa Bear said...

That bowl of soup looks sooooo yummy...

Uchipu said...

I don't know if you remember, but when we lived in Ba-chan's house, there was a little fish guy that came to visit from every day with fresh fish. He would go to the fish markets everyday and brough the best fish on his little truck to his favorite customers. He knew exactly which customers liked what.

Even though Ba-chan wasn't much of a sashimi cooker, she made some killer "nitsuke" with it. To this day, I cannot seem to replicate it...and I just blame it on the poor quality of the American fish monglers and the how it's treated once it's fished up. ...cuz even a really expensive fluke from Whole Foods or any of the local fish stores doesn't seem to come out like the ones Ba-chan used to make.

What is bitter sweet about this memory is, as Ba-chan got old, so did the fish guy..and as they both did, neither was his fish the best, and neither did Ba-chan make anymore Nitsuke...

Anonymous said...

Wow, great photos and really great detailed writing on all the senses, ingredients and the respect given to the fish for its sacrifice. And how everything came together into a perfect and tasty meal. What a coincidence, just last night there was a Japanese documentary TV show about an old couple living in the countryside of Japan, who relied on the land for their existence. Before going out fishing, the ojisan would pour a little sake in the water to bless the stream and the fishes. And before eating, he would say a prayer thanking the fishes for their sacrifice . He also, would say a prayer of thanks to the wild boar for his sacrifice. He also made a shrine for their spirits. Very nice the way they respected, appreciated and lived with nature. As you and your friends do. -lance

Yoko said...

Wow, I know that you were taking lots of pictures of Ted cooking fish while I was taking big nap!Thank you for sharing those pictures some of which I couldn't look at directly.

By the way,I really like Ba-chan's story. My home town is not so far from the sea and I saw many Ba-chans who is cutting fresh fish for their customer on the street. That scene is very nostalgic for me.

Alice said...

Brett,

Thanks for visiting! I think I'll have more of these fishing trip reports in the future!

Papa,
Yeh, you missed out BIG!

Uchi pu,

Of course I remember the Sakana-ya-san. His visits were highlights during my summer vacation days! I can't recall when he stopped coming by - but I do remember Ba-chan exchanging visits from the Sakana-ya-san for trips to Nafco and Yamadai (supermarkets)...

Lance,

That is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it! I can almost picture the old man! My grandfather was an avid fisherman and he taught me to respect the fish very early on...

Yoko-san,

Yes, I felt so bad that all three ladies were taking a nap while Ted cooked up a feast for us!!! I have to say, Shuko-san's got it good!!!!

Your coastal town story brings a vivid picture to me too. Those childhood memories are so precious!