Okay, finally got a pic up for the sushi I made from the buri that I made such a big fuss over in a recent blog entry.
I’m starting to get more used to molding sushi (nigirizushi)– it’s become more of a rhythm rather than a rigid series of motions. Reminds me to post a new vid to compare with my first attempts at making sushi at home.
Tasted damn good, btw.
5 bucks for the fish
No bucks for the sushi rice (as I had already made some fresh)
1 buck for the package of instant powder wasabi (with enough for 20 more sushi dinners)
I managed to make 13 pieces, so, 6 bucks ÷ 13 pieces of sushi = 46 cents per piece
Average price of a sushi train plate of the same stuff being approx. 3 bucks, I’d say I made off pretty well.
Got some good buri (yellowtail) when I was out shopping the other day. It was supposedly shipped directly from Kagoshima, Kyushu to my local supermarket in Tokyo. With all the pollution and radiation floating around the Pacific side of Japan, I am trying very hard to source my ingredients (especially fish) from western Japan. My strictness paid off.
The package of this buri says basically that it is sashimi grade, and was cultivated (farmed) locally in Kagoshima. Then it was taken from the water and killed right on the spot, a type of quick fish slaughter that originally came from Japan known as ike jime (printed as 活け〆 on the label), This is the preferred method of killing a fish meant for eating as the taste is comparably better than say, a fish that was subject to prolonged suffering prior to death (i.e. left to bleed to death), or stuck in a live-catch tank with 25 of his mates for hours and hours of pre-death stress.
If you’re a fish addict, then you should care not only about where your fish comes from, but also under what circumstances the fish was put out of its misery.
Not that every fish seller will tell you if your soon-to-be sushi dinner was killed as soon as it was taken from the water, but you should at least ask.
This wasn’t cheap, by the way: 7 bucks for 167 grams!…okay I got 2 bucks off (see the sticker) because it the last day it was eligible for sale.
I started off by visiting my local fish supplier and selected a good 30-cm Inada, which is a not yet fully grown Buri, with some fat but mostly meat and chiai (red meat).
I rinsed my fish off when I got home and began slicing it for nigirizushi. I used a sashimi knife, which has been in the family for some time and only used on special occasions like this (when not in use, it is sharpened, rinsed, dried and stored to guard against damage and rust). The Inada slices were about as long as my finger (to the third knuckle) and about 1/3 of a finger in width.
I had prepared my sushi rice ahead of time, cheating with pre-made sushi vinegar bought at my local supermarket.
So far, so good.
Next is where I totally messed up on 3 points. 1) I used my own judgment for how much rice to use per nigiri piece. 2) Next, I molded the rice tightly before combining with wasabi and the Inada slices. 3) Worst of all, I used plain water to rub on my hands when molding – it should have been vinegar water.
The results: A plate of sushi where each piece felt like a roll of dimes, seemed to take forever to chew, and the rice didn’t break apart in my mouth as it should (excess water on my hands must have glued the grains together!).
Some of you might be thinking, “Gee whiz, talk about sushi amateur”. I thought it was a great learning process and a good starting point for massive improvement on future attempts. I can only get better from here on out, right?) It was at least fun to try.
Although the sushi itself wasn’t a success, the Inada by itself as sashimi was excellent.
Recently in the local news, Japanese fishermen at major Japan Sea fishing ports have been setting catch records for the size and shear number of “Kan-Buri” or simply “Buri” — Japanese Amberjack — that have made their way to Japan this winter.
A Kyoto Shinbun article mentioned that some super-size Buri caught weighed 20kg (if you hate the metric system like I do, 20kg just means “a big lunker of a buri”!) in addition to a surge of many exceptionally large specimens of 8-12kg, are part of a huge catch of Buri not seen in 35 years. A different article on Yahoo Japan mentioned that the price has fallen below half of last year, making this year THE time to go out and get some. Both articles mention that Buri made their way southwards towards Japan in order to get away from this year’s cold winter waters.
Buri, you might know, is best enjoyed when fished during the coldest months (farmed Buri are good most of the year, but they’re…farmed!) and its price is fairly stable thanks to good catches each year. because it is best during winter that earns it the name “Kan-Buri” or “Winter Amberjack”. It is used in a number of Japanese dishes like Buri Teriyaki, Buri Daikon, and of course Buri Nigiri (sushi) and Buri sashimi.
Depending on where you are in Japan, Buri is called something a little different. For example, while most regions call an adult Amberjack “Buri“, it can be called “Mejiro“, “Inada” or “Hamachi” depending on how big the Buri has grown. These are probably the most common names you’ll find in major supermarkets and fish mongers. Lesser known names include “Kozukura“, “Fukuragi” and “Gando“.
I already went out and got my 28cm “Inada” (if I were still living in Fukuoka, I guess I’d call it a “Hamachi”) at the local fish market and plan to make sushi, sashimi and Buri Teriyaki.