A Culinary Guide to Taura, no. 5

Mr. and Mrs. Sekine run a small sakana-ya in Old Taura. They are happy to make recommendations about which fish to use for various recipes, including ceviche (there are many Peruvians in Taura). It’s a great luxury to chat about what would be best to grill, to poach, or for sashimi. They clean and dress the fish right in front of us and ask us if we want the head and bones for stock (well, as they say, for suupu).

Local fishmongers in Japan carry incredibly fresh fish (whole and prepared), along with whole split and lightly air-dried fish (himono). Aji (horse mackerel) or sanma (Pacific saury) himono are wonderful splashed with a bit of sake and grilled under the broiler. Add a bowl of shinmai (newly harvested rice) and some tsukemono (pickles) and we are in heaven at the dinner table.

Japanese fishmongers also have fish for sashimi and various sea products like wakame and other commonly eaten fresh seaweeds. Dried seaweed products like nori and kombu for dashi (stock) are usually sold at dry goods shops.

Here’s Sekine-san dressing a tai (sea bream) for me. There are larger fish markets near us in Zushi and Kamakura, and of course, I can be at the famous Tsukiji market in Tokyo in about an hour on the train, but it’s a pleasant ten minute walk to talk to the Sekines.

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