Adam Guy, one of our favorite contributors, has brought us yet another great article and meal from the seas of Japan. You may remember Adam’s previous “From The Table” article on Japanese Cuttlefish, well today we have a great feature of Japanese Flounder prepared to perfection utilizing every part of the fish in true Japanese fashion.
As always, fantastic work from Adam Guy. So long as Adam’s catching and eating, this should become a regular column.
The approach of spring means one thing for the Tokyo fisherman: Japanese flounder. The fish spawn in shallows during the coldest months of the year, and during this time do not feed, leaving the fish with a great appetite when winter comes to an end and the water temperature rises. I headed off recently with some friends to Yokohama and despite the foul weather, was lucky enough to snag a brace. These flounder are highly prized in Japan for their sweet flesh and command a high price in traditional sushi restaurants.
Like all flatfish, the flounder are cut into four fillets, rather than two as for normal fish. Then the fish pieces are skinned, and the ‘wings’ separated from the meat. The best part of the flounder are the fatty wings which are delicious as sashimi, and the fact that they comprise so little of the total meat of the fish makes them a rare treat. The skin is also tasty deep-fried or parboiled. But the fillets themselves are also quite delicious in their own right, here I have salted and pressed them between konbu kelp leaves, and then cut and served them just like sashimi. The flesh of the flounder is quite sweet and firm, and is complemented perfectly by the perfumed flavour of the kelp.
Lastly, in keeping with my general aim of wasting as little of the fish I catch as possible, I made the treat known in Japanese as ‘hone senbei’, or deep-fried bones. The flounder bones, with fins and head still left on (I removed the head from one of the fish I caught, as the hook was set deep in its gullet and I couldn’t remove it) are first cured in saltwater, then wind-dried till completely dessicated. After chopping the bones into manageable pieces, they are deep-fried until crisp and golden, given a good shake of salt and served. A most delicious and nutritious accompaniment to beer or sake!