Taste Japan's Ocean Delights in Summer!

↑The uni(sea urchin) and ruby-red Ikura(salmon roe) box sushi remind me of a jewel box!

Come learn, cook, and savor seasonal foods 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!

Once the rainy season is over in Japan, summer comes in full swing.

What do you think of seafood that tastes better in summer?

In Japan, Aji(Horse Mackerels) and Iwashi(Sardines) are inexpensive, tasty, and versatile, used in many home-cooked dishes, while expensive wild Uni(Sea Urchins), Ayu(sweetfish), and Kuruma-Ebi(prawns) are in season and become delicious!

We will introduce these summer seafood and dishes using them in this issue.

Why don't you learn Washoku with top-quality seasonal ingredients at JCI?

JCI's experienced and professional teachers will guide you through the process.

Table of Contents

  1. The Everyday Fish: Iwashi (Sardine)

  2. The Versatile Fish: Aji (Horse Mackerel)

  3. The Love or Hate Delicacy: Uni (Sea Urchin)

  4. The Queen of the River: Ayu (Sweetfish)

  5. The King of Prawn: Kuruma-Ebi (Kuruma Prawn)

  6. Summary

1. The Everyday Fish: Iwashi (Sardine)

↑The meaty flesh is simply delicious on top of Nigiri with grated ginger and green onion!

Iwashi (sardines) is among Japan's most delicious and fatty bluefish in summer! When caught as very young babies, sardines are called "Shirasu," when caught as young and dried, they transform into "Niboshi," used for Dashi stock. Did you know this fact?

Iwashi is a "popular fish" familiar to Japanese people since ancient times. Because it is caught in large quantities and is inexpensive, Iwashi has long appeared on the tables of the Japanese people. Fresh large Iwashi in season in summer can be enjoyed as Nigiri or sashimi with flavorful fatty meat.

↑Salted and semi-dried Mezashi has been favored on the breakfast table in Japan for a long time.

Other Iwashi dishes familiar to Japanese people include Mezashi, seasoned with salt and dried to preserve. Tatsuta-age is seasoned with soy sauce and other seasonings, coated with potato starch, and deep-fried. Shouga-ni is simmered with soy sauce and mirin and flavored with ginger. Tsumire-jiru is made with meatballs made from minced fillets in miso soup.

↑Crispy Iwashi Tatsuta-age is great with beer and sake!

↑Shoga-ni, Iwashi simmered in soy sauce and sweet mirin(cooking sake) with ginger is one of our favorite home dishes.

↑Tsumire-jiru with ground Iwashi meat is full of umami and nutrition!

Because Iwashi meat is soft, the technique of "Tebiraki" (hand-opening) is also used in preparations, in which sardines are handled with the fingers of the hand instead of using a knife. At JCI, you will also learn to repeatedly use a knife to "Harabiraki, open the belly" and other filleting techniques.

↑You can use your hands when working with fresh, plump Iwashi.

↑Beautiful Iwashi after Harabiraki, and they are ready for the next step.

↑Vinegared Iwashi Nigiri is said to be the item you can tell the sushi chef is good or not!

Do you eat fish similar to Iwashi where you live? If you do, please try out these dishes introduced here!

2. The Versatile Fish: Aji (Horse Mackerel)

↑The Japanese love the Aji for its versatility in cooking

Following Iwashi, we introduce the Versatile fish, Aji(Horse Mackerel).

When it comes to tasty fish in summer in Japan, Aji is the first fish that comes to mind. The Japanese, of course, love tuna, but tuna is a high-end fish and somewhat out of the category of everyday home cooking. On the other hand, Aji is relatively inexpensive and easy to find and is a versatile fish that can be served raw, grilled, or deep-fried. It appears on the tables of everyday Japanese people like various dishes.

↑Aji after Sanmai-Oroshi with a head, two filets, a middle part with the spine, and two zeigo(large hard scale-like parts).

That is why Aji is the first fish in Washoku when learning how to fillet fish. Mastering fish-fileting and making sashimi is the Washoku skill that JCI emphasizes. Aji is relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and has just the right size and thickness to be processed with a Deba knife for beginners. It has few scales, making it ideal for practicing the process of removing the skin and small bones.

↑The Gorgeous Aji Tataki presentation requires repetitive training of Sabaki(fileting).

Even if you process many of them, you can develop various cooking methods. You can learn a wide variety of techniques with Aji, such as basic Sanmai-oroshi(3-piece fileting), simple Daimyo-oroshi to separate the middle bone, preparation, and skewering for salted grilled fish, and various slicing and finishing techniques for sashimi.

↑Sweet and sour Nambanzuke is a perfect dish for summer!

Sashimi, Sushi, salted and grilled, and dried Aji are all delicious. But "Nanbanzuke," a dish made by coating the fish in flour, deep-frying it, and marinating it in a spicy marinade sauce, and "Aji Fry," a crispy deep-fried Aji coated in Panko bread crumbs are other dishes using Aji, are all favorites of Japanese people.