Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fermented, Dried, Flame-Grilled Saury ( 熊野の丸ぼし )

Today my friends M & T, from HanoiLife, invited me to their apartment for something special: 熊野の丸ぼし (kumano no maruboshi), or, in English, dried saury (sanma) grilled on an open flame. What made this particularly special was that the fish had been flown in directly from Kumano City, Mie prefecture, which is on Ise Bay midway between Nagoya and Ise.
Apparently Mie prefecture is well-known in Japan for this particular dish. If I understand correctly, the saury are caught in Ise Bay after journeying north via the fish-rich Kuroshio Current. Once caught, the saury are fermented in sweet sake and then hung to dry in the open air.
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Because the saury are hung from the tail, their fat and the contents of their innards concentrate slowly downward in the chiai (the long muscle that gives half of the saury's flesh its dark color), which over time imparts a bitter flavor to the fish.

Because the saury is fermented in sweet sake, and because it has a deeply bitter taste, drinking sake with this dish is a near-imperative. Actually, beer works well, too. In fact, we had beer and sake with this dish—nothing like going completely overboard on an early Tuesday afternoon!

To my surprise, and to my stomach's great pleasure, M & T also ordered two platters of food from a Japanese restaurant called Showa (the actual spelling on their signboard, however, is Shyowa). 

This was my first encounter with Showa’s menu, and I must admit to being impressed. The sushi came in very thick pieces – like an open-faced onigiri if there is such a thing – and the restaurant was quite generous with the raw salmon and tuna it included.

There was also a delicious kim chi, California, and saba (mackerel) roll, and the fried chicken and shrimp, which were excellent, really put me over the top.

Shyowa Restaurant is located at 619 Kim Ma Street in Hanoi. Tel/Fax: (04) 3766-8389.

I guess I've been in a Japanese food-mood lately. Hanoi has its fair share of interesting Japanese restaurants, but having friends who get the occasional order of specialty dishes flown directly from Japan also doesn't hurt!
Arigatou M & T for sharing your bounty from Mie prefecture and for introducing me to a new Japanese dish!

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with this salted dried fish. I must say it doesn't look that attractive & it doesn't look appetizing!

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