The waters are warming up around Japan and many of the fish coming to market now are lean like katsuo. Here is a sashimi platter at our home, Izakaya Sakamoto. The big fish in the back is Tokyo Bay aji, iwashi, lean katsuo, kisu, and shiriyake-ika.
This tsubugai sashimi was served at a izakaya specializing in shōchū, Bettako. One of the joys of eating sashimi in Japan is the wide variety of shellfish. Tsubugai has a rich texture. Here it is served with some grated daikon, julienned myōga, and green onions.
At a recent class at Elizabeth Andoh’s A Taste of Culture, we made a full meal from her latest collection of recipes, Kibō Recipes and Stories from Japan’s Tohoku. The rice dish is made with tokijake (chum salmon) and ikura.
Young surumeika are just now coming into the market. They are very soft and tender. You can eat it as sashimi without peeling the skin. Here we had it barbecued. It is stuffed with its innards and legs and simply grilled.
This is a sashimi platter we made on June 1st. Shinji’s father went fishing that morning in Tokyo Bay and all of the seafood, except for the Hokkaido scallops in the middle, were caught in the waters near Tokyo. This sashimi is even fresher than what customers are eating at Tsukiji Market sushi shops. Here we have aji, kochi, madako, and kisu.
Also, from Tokyo Bay, is this beautiful saba. Pacific mackerel is often cured in vinegar and served as shime-saba. It’s not often seen like this, but was amazing. Not as fishy as we associate with mackerel. We served it with julienned pickled ginger, myōga, and shiso and dressed it with a citrusy ponzu.
Another fish in season right now is anago. There is a restaurant in Nihonbashi that specializes in anago. A visit to Tamai, which is just behind Nihonbashi Takashimaya, is a treat, especially this time of year.
Ainame 鮎魚女 Fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)
Akagai 赤貝 Ark shell (Scapharca broughtonii)
Amaebi 甘海老 Pink shrimp (Pandalus eous)
Aoyagi 青柳 Surf clam (Mactra chinensis)
Asari 浅利 Japanese littleneck clam (Ruditapes philippinarum)
Ayu 鮎 Ayu or sweet fish (Plecoglossus altivelis)
Chidai 血鯛 Crimson sea bream (Evynnis japonica)
Ginzake 銀鮭 Silver (Coho) salmon (Oncorhynchus kisuts)
Hamo 鱧 Pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)
Hiramasa 平政 Giant amberjack (Seriola lalandi)
Hoya ホヤ Sea squirt (Ascidiacea)
Isaki 伊佐木 Threeline grunt (Parapristipoma trilineatum)
Ishigarei 石鰈 Stone flounder (Kareius bicoloratus)
Katsuo 鰹 Skipjack tuna or oceanic bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis)
Karauni 殻雲丹 Sea urchin (Anthocidaris crassispina)
Kinki 黄血魚 Thornyhead (Sebastolobus macrochir)
Kinmedai 金目鯛 Splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)
Kisu キス Sillago (Sillago japonica)
Kochi 鯒 Flathead (Platycephalus indicus)
Ma-aji 真鯵 Horse mackerel (Trachurus japonicas)
Ma-anago 真穴子 Conger eel (Conger myriaster) is a salt-water eel
Madako真蛸 Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)
Maiwashi 真鰯 Sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)
Makokarei 真子鰈 Marbled flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)
Mebachi maguro 目鉢鮪 Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus)
Mebaru 目張 rockfish (Sebastes inermis)
Minami maguro 南鮪 Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii)
Mirugai 海松食 geoduck (Tresus keenae)
Mongouika紋甲烏賊 Kisslip cuttlefish (Sepia lycidas)
Okoze 虎魚 Scorpion fish (Inimicus japonicus)
Saruebi 猿海老 Southern rough shrimp (Trachysalambria curvirostris)
Sazae 栄螺 Turban shell (Turbo cornutus)
Shako 蝦蛄 Mantis shrimp (Oratosquilla oratoria)
Shiiraシイラ Mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)
Shiroika 白烏賊 Swordtip squid (Photololigo edulis)
Shitabirame舌平目 Red tongue sole (Cynoglossus joyneri)
Surume ikaスルメイカ Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)
Suzuki 鱸 Japanese seabass (Lateolabrax japonicus)
Tachiuo 太刀魚 Belt fish or Largehead hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus)
Tokisake 時鮭 Young chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
Torigai 鳥貝 Cockle (Fulvia mutica)
Tsubugai 螺貝 Whelk (Buccinum undatum)