Picking 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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!!