Japan Eats

Recipe: Kajiki to natsuyasai no ponzu sarada (swordfish with summer vegetables)

A light dish, perfect for the last days of summer.

Swordfish has a delicate flavor and works well tomato, mustard or teriyaki sauces.

Here we’re going to coat the swordfish with a sauce blending the refreshing citrus of ponzu and the spiciness of wholegrain mustard.

In order to reduce the smell of the fish, sauté with garlic and rosemary. You can add any vegetables you like, but take into account the overall texture and the vegetable’s affinity with the dressing. Personally, I prefer mild-flavored vegetables such as zucchini. It’s also important to cut the ingredients into pieces of the same shape and size.

Swordfish with summer vegetables and ponzu

Swordfish with summer vegetables and ponzu

Ingredients (serves 2 – 4 people)

  • 150 g of swordfish (two slices of swordfish )
  • 50-70 g of red pepper (red paprika )
  • 50-70 g of yellow pepper (yellow paprika)
  • 50-70 g of string bean
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 branch of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salad dressing

  • 3 tablespoons of ponzu
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of mustard (with seeds)
  • ½ tablespoon of olive oil

Method

Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a bowl.

Cut the string beans into 5 cm lengths and boil them for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and allow them to come to room temperature.

Next, slice both the red and yellow peppers into strips roughly 5 cm long.

Now cut the swordfish into 1 x 5 cm slices.

Peal the garlic and then squash it. Together with the rosemary and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, gently heat the garlic in a frying pan.

When they begin to give off a strong fragrance, increase the heat to medium and sauté the swordfish until it becomes lightly brown then add the fish (except garlic, rosemary and extra olive oil) to the dressing bowl.

Use a sheet of kitchen paper to clean up the oil in the frying pan then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the string beans, red pepper, yellow pepper on high heat for 1 minute. Add to the bowl.

Mix all the ingredients in the bowl carefully and cool them down in the refrigerator for 30 – 60 minutes. Serve.

Recipe: Sautéed buri (yellowtail) marinated in shio-kouji

Enhance a dish’s flavor with shio-kouji.

Shio-kouji has a long history as a method for enhancing a dish’s flavor. It has recently come back into fashion, no doubt due to it’s versatility – it adds umami to just about anything. Shio-kouji makes an excellent marinade for fish (cod or salmon) pork, chicken or even vegetables. Here, we’re using it to marinade yellowtail, but as we’re coming into spring, a good alternative would be Spanish mackerel.

Sautéed yellowtail

Sautéed yellowtail

Ingredients

  • 300 g kome-kouji
  • 90 g salt
  • 2 slices of yellowtail (about 100g per  slice)
  • 3 tablespoons shio-kouji
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Pickled ginger (garnish)

Method (shio-kouji)

Prepare the shio-kouji 1 – 2 weeks ahead of time. Add 90 grams of salt to 300 grams of kome-kouji (rice kouji – essentially rice to which the kouji spores have been attached). Mix well then place in a container with enough water to cover the rice. Leave the container out of the fridge, stirring once a day.

Method (Sautéed yellowtail)

Remove any extra moisture from both sides of the yellow tail with kitchen paper. Next, place the fish in a clean plastic bag and coat  with the shio-kouji. Leave it in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 3 – 4 hours).

Pour a teaspoon of vegetable oil into a frying pan and spread it evenly with kitchen paper. Sautée the side of the fish with skin on a low to medium heat until it becomes brown. Flip the fish over and cook the other side slowly on a low heat (lid on) for 6 – 7 minutes. Serve with pickled ginger.

Recipe: Aji no nanbanzuke (deep fried horse mackerel)

Deep fried and served in a soy and vinegar sauce, mackerel makes either a satisfying appetizer or a main course

Although Japanese often prepare mackerel at home, the silver and blue-skinned fish tends to be overshadowed by more popular varieties. Perhaps this is because mackerel has a reputation for being oily, or because it lacks the visual appeal of tuna or salmon.

The key to this dish is to remove the bones carefully. If you don’t want the bother, sardines can be used instead. Their bones are thin so you needn’t be nervous about it.

Powder the fillets with starch just before deep frying. It’s worth noting that any blue fish will taste good with the ginger and soy sauce. Here, it’s horse mackerel, but Pacific saury (sanma) would do just as well.

The marinade will soak into the batter, but it should retain enough texture to prevent it becoming soggy. The ginger is important as it balances out the flavor of the the fish.

Deep fried horse mackerel.

Deep fried horse mackerel

Ingredients (serves 2 – 3 people)

  • 150 – 200 g horse mackerel (filleted)
  • 50 g onion
  • 50 g carrot
  • 10 g ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of potato starch

Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of cold water
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 piece of dried whole chilli pepper

Method

Fillet the fish

Fillet the fish

First, prepare the marinade for the horse mackerel. Remove the seeds inside the chilli pepper and slice into pieces 3 – 5 mm thick. Place the chilli in a bowl together with all of the other ingredients for the sauce.

Slice the onions into thin slices. Now slice the carrot into thin pieces.

Next, prepare the horse mackerel. If it hasn’t already been filleted, divide the fish into three slices. Cut each slice into a further 2 – 3 bite-sized pieces, being careful to remove the bones.

Put the bite-sized pieces of horse mackerel and the potato starch into a bag. Blow air into the bag so that it inflates like a balloon then shake so that the mackerel is completely coated in starch.

Coat in potato starch

Coat in potato starch

Heat a deep fry pan filled with vegetable oil to 170 degrees centigrade.

Remove the extra potato starch from the horse mackerel and deep fry for about 3 – 4 minutes. When they become crispy and have turned a light brown, retrieve and drain and a tray. Marinade them in the sauce while still hot.

Place the thinly sliced onion, carrot and ginger on the mackerel. Carefully mix the mackerel with the vegetables and serve.

Recipe: Piman no jakoitame (stir-fried peppers with crispy young anchovies)

Vibrant color, crispy texture.

In many ways, this pepper and anchovy dish is the perfect otsumami (tapas-style dish). For starters there’s its vivid color – bold red, yellow and green.  Then there’s the texture – the slightly crispy anchovies balancing the sauteed peppers. Finally, there’s the flavor of the mentsuyu (a dashi-based sauce usually used for soba and udon noodles).

Stir-fried peppers with crispy young anchovies

Stir-fried peppers with crispy young anchovies

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

  • 200g green pepper (4-5 green peppers)
  • 50g red pepper (1/2 a red pepper)
  • 50g yellow pepper (1/2 a yellow pepper)
  • 20g dried young anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of mentsuyu

Method

Pour 2 tablespoons of sesame oil into a frying pan and place on a low heat. Add the dried young anchovies and slowly saute them for 3-4 minutes, so that they become crispy.

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds, then slice them into strips. When the anchovies become crispy, add the peppers to the pan and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes over a high heat.

Finally, add two tablespoons of mentsuyu and coat the peppers. If you live in Japan, you should be able to find this at any supermarket or convenience store.

If you live overseas and have trouble finding the sauce, however, add the following to the fry pan:

  • 2 tablespoons of dashi soup (or water)
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin

It’s also worth noting that were you to make 2-3 times the sauce, you would have the perfect soup for soba or udon noodles.