Having received no chocolate on this Valentine’s Day, I decided to hit the road and try out sushi shop that caught my eye last I was in Ikebukuro. Prices were just right, it was clean, and the chefs were quite skilled.
The best part was the Hamachi (or it could have been Kanburi), and one of the shop’s specials of the day was a trio of Hamachi nigiri for 230 yen — that’s a price difficult to refuse for a fish that’s in season. I’ve always been a big fan of Hamachi and will order it when Kanburi or Kanpachi is not available and almost always take it in lieu of Ootoro (due to price) .
3 pieces for 230 yen, what a deal!
Valentine’s Day in Japan, you might know, is a bit different from other parts of the world. Girls give chocolates to the guys — it can be a pretty big deal to the love-sick student, but can also be nothing more than a simple formality within Japanese companies — and in return, guys give girls chocolates (if they received chocolate in Feb) on March 14, aka “White Day” . Frankly, I’d have been more happy getting a coupon to my favorite noodle shop or takeout sushi place rather than sweets.
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.