Sunday, July 19, 2009

Need More Repertoire...

Aji no nigiri-zushi (Hand-formed sushi with Japanese jack mackerel)

One of the challenges in the kitchen at my parents' house is "unpredictability," especially when it comes to buying fish. (I know. This topic should have been included in my "challenges" series, but I kept forgetting to write about it. :P )

Here in this very, very small town near the Pacific Ocean, fixed netting is the main fishing method in the community. Local folks go to the fishing port first thing in the morning and buy fresh fish that were swimming in the ocean just about an hour earlier. When there was a big catch of variety of fish and help was needed for sorting them, community people take turns to help out (and perhaps get some give-away fish when they go home?? )

In our family, it is dad who goes to the fishing port to buy fish or to help out there. In the latter case, the whole community gets notified about the big catch, so mom and I at least know that we will have some fish that day, though not sure about what kind. But dad doesn't tell us beforehand when he goes there just to buy fish, which gives us more challenge.

There is a strict rule in my family: fresh fish good for sashimi (sliced raw fish) MUST be enjoyed as sashimi first, preferably on the day it was bought. So, no matter what mom and I were planning to make for lunch and dinner that day (and even did some preparation on the previous day), it has to be postponed if dad comes home around breakfast time with a big Styrofoam container full of fish. Yes, sashimi has the highest priority.

When dad buys aji, Japanese jack mackerels, he buys about ten of them at one time (if available), and that makes mom and I busy with gutting and filleting. Some aji is used for making sashimi, of course. But we have to make other things, too, with the rest, and we are running out of repertoire because dad buys the fish so often...!!!

So last night, wanting to try something different, mom and I made what we seldom make: nigiri zushi (hand-formed sushi) with the Japanese jack mackerels dad bought in the morning.

The sushi was OK, but we concluded that we should stick with smaller mackerels when making this sushi, because deboning was such a pain in the neck. :P

FYI, we have made these with Japanese jack mackerels since I moved in here:

(I took this shot on the bottom-left before putting the dish in the oven.)

Sorry, no photos of more popular dishes like grilled or deep-fried aji. We make them quite often, but for some reason, I never had time to take photos of them before eating. I'll post about them someday in the near future.

BTW, here's a big news. I went for a morning walk on the beach the other day and guess who I saw there!

YAY!! :D

(Added Jul. 21)
According to a neighbor, someone (perhaps one of the fishermen?) seems to be taking care of Jonathan now. He is given a "birdhouse" somewhere in the rocky part of the beach near the fishing port and getting fed almost every day, I heard.


jalna said...

Beautiful photos as usual. . . and JONATHAN'S BACK!!!!

C(h)ristine said...

You are so lucky to be so close to good fresh fish! And I love mackerel. You can always make some korean-style in a spicy stew (mae un tang). Or my fave (which I'm sure you know about): just frying a up mackerel whole in a pan.

totoro kaiwa said...

Wish I could eat at your house! Those pictures of the mackeral are mouthwatering.

Anonymous said...

Ello Jonathan! Obachan has been worrying about you, you know. =P

The nigiri zushi looks so awesome, you're a pro!

cocopuff1212 said...

Local fresh fish for sashimi.... No, I'm NOT jealous. No, not at all!

obachan said...

Yep! Honestly, I didn't know how much he meant to me until I saw him again on the beach.

Mmmm... we've never tried any Korean style dish with mackerel, but it does sound worth trying.

I really wish you, and other fish eaters reading this blog, could come and help us eat up the fish that dad brings back from the fishing port!!

Anonymous commenter;
Really. And now he looks sad... Perhaps he broke up with his girlfriend and that was the reason why he came back. Oh, a seagull with a broken heart... Romantic.

Of course. And I'm not jealous of you for the BBQ or Paul Bocuse... No, not at all!!!

David said...

Is cleaning fresh fish difficult? Do you have to use a special knife? That's one thing that I really want to learn how to do. I often see fresh iwashi here in Yokohama, but I am always put off by the prospect of cleaning them, especially removing the insides. I have seen tutorials on the internet, but I think I need to observe in person.... Have you ever thought about opening a cooking school in your house in your fishing village?

Rinshinomori said...

Oooooh, aji, yummmm! I bet it was a pain removing all the bones. Nigiri looks gorgeous and the sushi rice has beautiful sheen to it. And look how perfectly put together they are. You and your mom are pros!

So lucky to be able to find just caught fish like this.

cell said...

beautiful sushi! jonathan...what a name for a gull!

Tindy said...


Man, your food looks so good.....sooooo good...

obachan said...

It helps to use a special knife, though experienced folks say that it's not the knife but your skill that really matters. :P

Cooking school here? Who would come to learn how to clean fresh fish? Everyone around here are far more experienced in that than I, and people in big cities wouldn't come all the way, spending loads of money for the gas (because there's almost no public transportation to get here) when they can find better cooking schools over there.

Well, our sushi looks better in these photos. But it is true that we are lucky to be able to get fresh fish at low price.

Hahaha... about the seagull's name, you'd have to ask Richard Bach why he chose that name for a gull. ;)

I'm a bit sad now as he is becoming popular among the neighbors... He's not my secret friend any more...

totoro kaiwa said...

Will you share all the ways you prepare fish? 

tamemu said...

Yummy fresh fish!
At my place, we eat fresh on weekends when my dad has time to go to the port.


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