Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sanma Season

This week, our Japanese teacher informed us that it's sanma season in Japan. Sanma, which literally means "autumn knife," is a vaguely mackerel-like fish that we often see jumping along the surface of the water here in Fukuoka. To the Japanese, grilled or pan-fried sanma is an autumn classic, the equivalent of apple cider or pumpkin pie. It's also super cheap (about $1 per fish) and incredibly healthy: basically, it's packed with all the good stuff you find in wild salmon, only moreso.

But the most important question: how does it taste?

Nana and I decided to find out by picking up some sanma of our own. The preferred method of preparation is very simple: take a gutted whole fish and grill it or pan fry it without any added oil (sanma is oily enough). Lacking a grill, we (and by "we" I mean "Nana") went with the latter, and took the added step of flouring the fish lightly to prevent charring.

The result didn't look very appetizing, and it took quite a bit of nifty handling to separate the meat from the bones--but the fish itself was delicious: rich like mackerel, but a lot less fishy. The Japanese add a little citrus and some pickled radish, but we thought it tasted just fine on its own.

Downside: the stuff smells very fishy as it cooks!

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