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Cook & Savor Early Summer Seafood in Japan!

↑Tai-Rice, using whole Tai, is also the main dish for celebrations!

Let’s learn about seasonal ingredients at JCI! Hello from Japan Culinary Institute, and welcome to JCI's blog for those looking for an opportunity to learn about Japanese cuisine and culture in Japan! In Japan, the refreshing summer season is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to taste the seasonal seafood that is landed in the early summer. In this issue, we would like to introduce some seafood that Japanese people especially look forward to during this time of year. In particular, "Sakura-ebi(Sakura shrimp)," which can only be found in Suruga Bay in Shizuoka, the home of JCI, and "fresh Shirasu," which is only available locally for a limited time, as well as "Sawara," the fish that represents spring, "Tai," the king of fish, and "Bonito," which is said to bring summer, all of which JCI will teach you how to cook. Let's learn together about the tastiest seafood of the season! Table of Contents 1. The Springtime Fish: Sawara(Spanish Mackerel) 2. The King of Fish: Tai(Sea Bream/Red Snapper) 3. The Jewel of Ocean: Sakura-ebi(Cherry Shrimp) 4. The Transparent Flesh: Shirasu(Baby Sardine) 5. The Summer Herald: Hastu-gatsuo(New Bonito) 6. Summary

1. The Springtime Fish: Sawara(Spanish Mackerel)

↑The juicy flesh is simply delicious grilled with salt!

With the arrival of spring, the warming ocean currents bring to Japan seafood that is in season from spring to summer.

First, let us look at the "Sawara (Spanish Mackerel)," a particularly renowned spring fish. In Kanji characters, Sawara=鰆 is written as 魚(fish) on the left and 春(spring ) on the right, it is considered a representative spring fish.

Japanese people consider Sawara in springtime as the highest quality mackerel in Japan for its succulent white flesh. You can cook and enjoy it in many ways, whether as sashimi, sushi, simple shio-yaki(salt-grilled), or marinated in a saikyo miso (sweet white miso) sauce and grilled=above photo=.

↑Spring Sawara nigiri topped with grated ginger and myoga (ginger buds/shoots) and served with ponzu (Japanese citrus vinegar and soy sauce).

↑Dashi-Chazuke (Dashi broth over rice ) topped with sliced Japanese Sawara Tataki, seared on the outside.

You can also cook and enjoy Sawara as French or Italian-influenced dishes like Poiret(A method of cooking seasoned fish or meat in just the right amount of oil to crispy perfection)and carpaccio!

↑A French-style dish of crispy Sawara and Tataki with a rare finish. Do you eat fish similar to Spanish mackerel, such as Sawara, where you live? Learning Washoku at JCI will give you a whole new range of recipes to work with!

2. The King of Fish: Tai(Sea Bream/Red Snapper)

↑Thinly sliced sashimi of Tai wrapped with green sprouts. A presentation that makes the most of the transparency of the fresh flesh!

Following Sawara, we introduce the King of Fish, Tai.

When Japanese people think of spring Tai, the beautiful bright cherry color comes to mind. This beautiful Sakura color is one that the Japanese love!

↑Tai-Rice, using whole Tai, is also the main dish for celebrations!

In the Washoku world, Tai is the fish you must have when learning authentic Japanese cuisine. When you can beautifully handle Tai, you have first mastered the primary stages of fish sabaki(fileting). Since ancient times, as a color of congratulations, whole grilled Red Tai has graced the dining table as a centerpiece of celebratory meals such as weddings.

Spring marks their breeding season, with April being a perfect time to indulge in the thickest, ripest cuts of sushi and sashimi, which are particularly well regarded as a spring luxury.

↑Tai Nigiri with beautiful pink and white flesh colors, just like spring!

Fish fileting and making sashimi is a Washoku skill that JCI emphasizes. You can learn that technique directly from a professional chef at JCI. You will understand how they use knives and move their bodies by seeing them in the kitchen.

↑Tai carpaccio with avocado, onion slices, cayenne, and lemon. Made with fresh snapper, it has a very different crunch!

↑A whole roasted Tai is an indispensable item for celebratory tables at weddings and other festive occasions. In addition to being able to make sashimi, there are also tricks to be learned in the preparation and sabaki process for beautifully grilling a whole Tai. It requires patience, but with JCI's dedicated teachers, we assure you that you will be able to master it.

3. The Jewel of Ocean: Sakura-ebi(Cherry Shrimp)

↑ As the name suggests, this is a beautiful "cherry blossom-colored" Sakura-ebi. They have aptly named "Ocean rubies" or "Jewels of the sea."

While you can find the aforementioned Spanish mackerel and sea bream throughout Japan, it is a privilege of Shizuoka, where JCI is located, to enjoy this Sakura-ebi(Cherry Shrimp), especially in its raw state.

↑ Kakiage(deep-fried Sakura-ebi mixed with tempura batter and deep-fried until crispy) is highly recommended!

Japanese people adore the beautiful bright Sakura color of the tiny shrimp and call it the Jewel (or Ruby) of the Ocean! As the name suggests, it is called Sakura-ebi because of its beautiful Sakura color. It is caught only twice a year during a limited period: spring fishing (mid-March to early June) and fall fishing (late October to late December). It is the only type of shrimp in Japan that can only be landed in Suruga Bay, making it a very precious species.

↑ The pasta, full of flavor from the Sakura-ebi, is oil-based and colorful with spring vegetables.

In addition to sashimi and sushi, which allow you to enjoy the sweetness of raw sakura shrimp, we also recommend the crispy and fluffy kakiage (tempura). The period you can eat fresh sakura shrimps is very short, but you can enjoy dried sakura shrimps all year round. Sakura-ebi, which can be eaten whole in its shell, is rich in dietary fiber and calcium.

↑You can make Sakura-ebi rice by adding dried ones and a bit of soy sauce when you cook rice.

It is easy to use in cooking and can be easily added to pasta, rice, fried rice, okonomiyaki, and other dishes to add a gorgeous touch of color! The sun-drying scene for making dried shrimp can be seen only in spring and fall, on a clear day after the fishing season begins.

↑ Shumai(shaomai, steamed meat dumpling) topped with sakura shrimps, beautifully colored!

A vivid red carpet created by sun-dried Sakura-ebi in front of Mt. Fuji during the fishing season is just spectacular! It is indeed limited-time-only, and you should experience spring's taste and view while it lasts. Why don't you join JCI and cook and savor Sakura-ebi and witness the fascinating view of Sakura-ebi drying?

↑ A vivid red carpet created by sun-dried Sakura-ebi in front of Mt. Fuji is spectacular!

4. The Transparent Flesh: Shirasu(Baby Sardine)

↑ Local residents can enjoy fresh raw Shirasu Nigiri. You should try it too!

Like Sakura-ebi, fresh Shirasu, or young sardines, is a rare seafood that is landed in the local area near JCI. The shirasu fishing season starts in spring every year. Boiled or dried Shirasu is the most familiar type of Shirasu but freshly caught "fresh Shirasu" is a rare delicacy that you can rarely taste outside of the production area. The translucent flesh and crunchy texture of the Shirasu are so addictive that gourmets from all over the country flock to the area during the fishing season.

↑Shirasu-Doni, a bowl of rice topped with two kinds of Shirasu: fresh and boiled.

You can eat it as it is, but "Nama Shirasu Don" (raw Shirasu on rice topped with ginger and green onion and topped with soy sauce) and sushi are so delicious that you will fall in love with them.

↑Shirasu being dried in the sun. While Sakura-ebi creates a red carpet, Shirasu makes a white one!

Dried shirasu keeps well for a long time, so it is a convenient product that can be used by mixing with rice or topping for salads and other dishes. Boiled at high temperatures for a short time, Shirasu is fluffy, soft, and has no fishy smell, which Japanese people love. The standard way to eat boiled Shirasu is a breakfast dish with grated daikon and a drizzle of soy sauce.

↑The shirasu burger, available in Shizuoka for a limited time only, is a local delicacy and specialty!

↑Here's a pizza topped not with anchovies but with Shirasu!

5. The Summer Herald: Hastu-gatsuo(New Bonito)

↑Fresh bonito (back) and pieces of bonito with the surface seared for Tataki.

Now that we have introduced spring fish, what are the fish that the Japanese are waiting for in early summer?

It's Katsuo(New Bonito or Skipjack)! In Japan, we eagerly wait for the first Bonito of the season. We call the landing of the first bonito "Hatsu-gatsuo(katsuo)" and treasure it as the herald of the summer!

↑Bonito pieces are dynamically seared for Tataki!

If you are interested in Japanese cuisine, you may know "Katsuo" occupies an important position. Steamed, dried, and smoked, it becomes Katsuobushi(Dried bonito flakes), one of the main ingredients in dashi stock, the foundation of Japanese cooking. Many Washoku lovers like you may know Katsuobushi, but the fresh Katsuo is something you should cook and taste once you study at JCI.

↑Bonito tataki is served with slices of garlic and grated ginger, not wasabi!

Katsuo, commonly known as Bonito, is a migratory fish. From April to June, swim northwards around Japan in search of food.

Japanese enjoy "Hatsu-gatsuo" as "sashimi," "tataki" (seared slices served with ponzu vinaigrette), and "sushi." The new Katsuo is leaner and has a clean flavor, so grated raw garlic goes a lot better with uncooked Katsuo than the usually grated wasabi, as do chopped green onions, grated ginger, and shredded shiso leaves and myoga(ginger buds/shoots).

↑At a sushi restaurant in early summer, be sure to taste the Hatsu-gatsuo Nigiri!

It is a great pleasure to taste the season's foods as soon as it cherishes the seasonal taste while feeling the seasons.

6. Summary

↑The white Shirasu and ruby-red Ikura(salmon roe) Don is just gorgeous!

Surrounded by the sea, the Japanese people are blessed to enjoy the ocean's bounty in spring, summer, fall, and winter. We have highlighted five types of seafood for spring and early summer, but there is much more fish than we would like to introduce to you.

Which of the seafood introduced here would you like to try the most?

Besides sushi and sashimi, were there any other dishes you would like to try?

JCI takes advantage of its geographical location to prepare super-fresh seafood and visits local fishing ports to observe morning auctions.

JCI has fishing ports in the neighborhood, which means you can taste and prepare super fresh, local seafood.

You will be exposed to, cook, and eat many kinds of seafood in the Japanese Chef Training Course, Sushi Course, and the Home Cooking Course, and improve your experience as a culinary professional.

Yes, JCI can do it with you!

Click on the link below to view JCI's diverse course offerings!

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