Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Meal

It seems that many a farmer is a good cook, and T-san is no exception. The next day (after the fish lesson) we went back to our friends home to sample the assorted fish. We sat down to salad, a bowl of small squid, and potato salad. T-san remained in the kitchen cooking and bringing out each item in a beautiful presentation.

The small squid were easily the most exotic thing on the table as our starter. Literally, smaller than my thumb these little guys were jumbled together with a bit of greenery – either parsley or sisho – and soy sauce. I can't say this was my favorite dish of the day, but I gave it a go. Crunchy when you least expect it with a cool (temperature not niftiness) texture.

A plate full of sardines and grunt fish surrounded by sisho leaves came next accompanied by sheets of dried seaweed and a bowl of rice. We placed a bit of rice on the seaweed, topped it with a sisho leaf, and then the fish of our choice. After gently rolling this it could be dipped in the wasabi we grated fresh at the table mixed with soy sauce. This was easily one of my favorites of the day.

Meanwhile, the keenkay (red fish) had simmered since yesterday in its pan of equal parts mirin, soy sauce, and sake, and now came to us in small bowls. Sceptical at first, we found that A-san had been quite correct. The fish melted in our mouths and the flavors were tremendous. I think we were all sad to see the bottom of our bowls.

Next came the turban shell (sa-zaa). Baked in their shells with soy sauce, the meat came away with a bit of twisting and gently tugging. An end bit (slightly green) was cut off, and then we popped the rest into our mouths. With a slightly smoky taste, this little fellow was quite nice albeit a bit chewy.

Finally, out came what is now my favorite dish in Japan. Usually only made for holidays or special occasions, baked squid stuffed with rice, is perhaps the most delicious thing I've eaten yet. (I'm sure I'm going to say that soon about something else, but suffice it to say that I loved this dish.) The squid (ika) had been stuffed with sticky rice, then boiled with sugar, soy sauce, mirin, and water, and then baked for about 30 minutes. (At least, I think this is how the recipe goes.) A little bit sweet and a little bit savory, I couldn't even get a picture of this plate completely full. So yummy!

A plate of fresh strawberries rounded out the meal. I couldn't have asked for a better lesson or more fun with new friends. I learned a great deal, although I still feel quite hesitant to do unsupervised filleting. (Richard reports that the sushi-master near our house has invited me to come practice, but I'm suspicious. Suspicious of Richard's language skills msotly, not the sushi-master. He feeds the three cats that hang out near his stand so he must be a good soul.) But I have since had squid, and T-san's still ranks as the best!

1 comment:

Roanne said...

Hey there.
Well, sounds like the mean was a success. I'm going to expect this fine food hopefully when Kurt and I get out there. :-)
Take care you and tell Rich we said hi!
Hugs back.