Because I really enjoy Adam’s great articles from Japan I’ve asked if he can write us more often with some of the great meals that he creates from his personal fishing trips. Adam’s most recent article Fugu is a great voyage into the myths and reality of catching and eating fresh Fugu. Today Adam is dining on freshly caught Cuttlefish, which despite their name, are not fish but related to squid and other Cephalopods.
Without further delay, start salivating now..
On Monday I went fishing on the Miura Peninsula. It was a wonderful ‘Japanese’ winter’s day, very crisp and dry but also sunny, so when the wind died down it was actually quite warm and pleasant. It was a bit hazy over Yokohama (the best views being of course, from Sagami Bay) but even from where we were Mt Fuji was in fine form, dusted bone-white and regal, keeping an eye on us at sea. Anyway, it was a rather pleasant outing and I secured some quite delicious food for the next few days: three large Japanese Cuttlefish (common name: Golden Cuttlefish, scientific name: Sepia Esculenta). In Japanese they are known as sumiika, or ‘Ink Squid’. One look at the photograph of the squid in my kitchen sink should make the reason for this obvious: they are absolutely brimming with ink, and spew it about most liberally when upset, such as when yanked out of the sea by the eager fisherman.
Cuttlefish have been prized since the Edo Period in Japan, primarily as an ingredient for tenpura, but almost every part of the animal can be eaten. Only the stomach, ink sac (after removing and freezing the ink, perhaps for a pasta sauce) and beak is discarded; even the cuttlefish’s bony plate can be fed to pet birds or terrestrial molluscs. The most obvious dish is tenpura: my own batter is a half-half mixture of flour and cornflour, folded into cold water in which an egg yolk has been whisked, and deep-fried in sesame oil. The next dish is cuttlefish sashimi, that has been cut into thin strips and mixed with finely chopped garlic, ginger, onion, rice vinegar, brown sugar and Korean chilli paste (go chu jang) that gives it its wonderful blood-red colour and a fierce chilli heat. It becomes especially good when left in the fridge for a day or two for all the flavours to blend into each other, but this time sadly none survived the first night.
The curious things wrapped in foil are the livers of the cuttlefish, grilled with nothing more than a shake of sea salt, and served with lemon. The surrounding white flesh is also delicious. The rather stumpy and short tentacles are excellent when par-boiled (then chilled rapidly in icewater) and then tossed in an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. I served mine with a mixture of crunchy vegetables – red and yellow peppers, spring onions, watercress and cherry tomatoes – and plenty of black pepper and crushed garlic.
I hope you enjoy the pictures; I certainly enjoyed the eating, Adam Guy.