Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening meal at my mom's

I’ve been so busy these last few days trying to cram stuff in (while also battling a strained back) before I go back home in a week, that I completely forgot to mention that there is another new article and recipe (actually two recipes) by me in the Japan Times, about winter fish and how to cook it. The main recipe is for a really simple but very tasty marinated buri (yellowtail), and there are also instructions for how to grill a whole fish such as mackerel. The marinated buri recipe can be adapted to any oily fish such as salmon or swordfish, and is really terrific in bentos.

Here is how we had the marinated buri (not the same one in the Japan Times article photo, but very similar) one night.

japanese-fish-dinner.jpg

In the center is a bowl of plain shinmai or new harvest rice. There’s a steaming bowl of kenchinjiru soup with tons of vegetables; some boiled broccoli with a bit of soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms and koyadofu (freeze-dried tofu) plus a handful of green beans simmered in dashi stock with a bit of soy sauce and mirin; and last but not least, the marinated buri.

This is a fairly typical dinner at my mother’s house - a lot of food but pretty healthy. It looks like a ton of work, but it’s not too bad, since the simmered mushrooms and tofu was made in advance (refrigerator stash) and the fish had been marinated in advance of course. The rice was rinsed and put in the rice cooker with the timer set so that it finished cooking around dinnertime. It took us about 20-30 minutes to cook and assemble this whole meal. It was of course, delicious! I really love oily fish marinated like this. It has crispy-salty-sweet bits on the surface and is creamy and rich inside.

Afterwards, we had some fresh kaki (persimmon) for dessert. Later on we all nibbled on some pound cake that I had baked. Despite the frequent evening snacking and meals centered around rice or noodles almost every day, my blood sugar levels are holding at just about high-normal level since I got to Japan. Go figure.

(See also: The anatomy of a Japanese meal.)

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18 comments so far...

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Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Great article, just as much for the recipes as the terminology!!

John S. | 30 November, 2010 - 09:21

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Looks yummy! I also like oily fish prepared that way, and that rice is making my mouth water! And it's only morning!

In Brazil we also call persimmon "kaki" (although we spell it "caqui" in Portuguese), and I always wondered where the unusual name came from :) Now I know it's from Japan!

Sabine | 30 November, 2010 - 13:33

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Also in Italy persimmons are called 'cachi' (read kaki). No clue it was Japanese!
This looks a lot like the kind of dinner I wish I could have every night. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Japan!

Caffettiera | 30 November, 2010 - 17:46

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

I love grilled, marinated fish -- I'm looking forward to trying your recipe with some salmon!

And I love persimmon for dessert! We had a terrific persimmon pie for Thanksgiving this year, too -- it's like apple pie, but with thin slices of fuyu persimmon instead. Delicious!

And I've really enjoyed your posts on typical Japanese meals -- it really reminds me of my Filipina grandma's cooking, with all the soups, rice and fish. ^__^

Lorena | 30 November, 2010 - 18:11

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Dear Maki, I´ve been reading your blog for a few years, and I´d like to congratulate you on it. Everything you post is so interesting and beautiful! The marinate recipe seems to be delicious, and I can hardly wait to try it. I really enjoy grilled fish with rice and wish I would eat it more often.

However, one thing that really discourage me from grilling fish is the smell that dominates the kitchen (and most of the apartment)when I cook, particularly salmon. I´ve always wondered how the Japanese manage to grill fish often and not make their entire house smell like fish for the rest of the day. Is there any special pan or technique?

Barbara | 1 December, 2010 - 16:14

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

To reduce smell while grilling fish, put some used black tea leaves (save them from your morning tea) with a little water in the tray underneath your grill! Apparently black tea leaves absorb strong smells. They explained this on a cooking program in Japan and it really works!

Kathrin | 2 December, 2010 - 14:24

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Re: the smell of grilled fish. The only sure way to get rid of it is to have the exhaust fan on at full blast all the time, and for a little while afterwards. In olden days, people used to grill fish on a little hibachi outside. (If you don't like the smell of grilled fish, one option might be to reserve it for the summer months and do it on the barbeque. ) Nowadays you can't do that in the cities of course.

Most decent Japanese homes have pretty strong exhaust fans (just try walking about a residential neighborhood around dinnertime and you smell it!) Also, I think that really fresh fish tends to smell a lot less while cooking.

maki | 3 December, 2010 - 02:59

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Thanks so much for this. It looks incredible. My Japanese mother passed away five years ago and I miss her cooking so much. There is nothing like home cooking. Keep up the great recipes.

Emily Z. | 1 December, 2010 - 21:28

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Thank you Emily - comments like yours make all the work I put into this seem worthwhile. ^_^

maki | 3 December, 2010 - 03:02

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

This is really, really off topic, but I just got an e-mail from japan centre and your book was featured! When I went there last week I saw it and I was proud. :) I hope you sell lots and lots!

MN | 2 December, 2010 - 09:27
maki | 3 December, 2010 - 02:47

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Thank you, Maki and Kathrin. At least I'm glad to know that I've been doing everything within my reach.

Barbara | 3 December, 2010 - 12:35

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Not so much the food that impressed me but that you have a mother to go to and who cooks you such a nice meal. Miss my mom.....

tooki | 5 December, 2010 - 05:30

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Actually I made most of the meal, though it was at my mom's ^_^ (she made the vegetables). I'm sorry you miss your mother...

maki | 5 December, 2010 - 08:26

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Recently, I have disovered two things I am having a most enjoyable time with ~ exploring Japan and finding your blog quite by accident.

Chee | 6 December, 2010 - 05:49

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

I am actually curious about the boiled broccoli and the dried shiitake mushrooms with koyadofu and green beans.
For the broccoli, did you boil them in water (salted?) and added the soy sauce at serving time?
And for the other dish, was mirin and soy sauce added to the dashi when simmering the components? I am wondering whether it is always worth simmering vegetables in dashi instead of water or if there are some rule of thumbs to follow...
Sorry for the many questions :)
Have a nice evening!

Stefano | 10 December, 2010 - 00:54

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

yummy!! can your mum come to australia and cook for me please?? if not, recipes would suffice...

^_^

cdb | 19 December, 2010 - 11:32

Re: Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening ...

Re: fish
How long in advance can your marinate the fish for? Is there a maximum period for marinating fish? Can you do it before going to work or is that too long? Thanks!

ita | 5 January, 2011 - 12:24

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