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  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:29 am on June 27, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: food stalls, , Japanese cuisine, , , , , , , , rubber boots, , , ,   

    Deadprogrammer Visits Japan Part IVc : Day of the Tentacle 

    Of course, seafood is not the only thing that’s sold in this gigantic market.

    You can buy just about everything seafood related around there, rubber boots, for instance.

    There are a lot of knife merchants around that sell mostly Japanese-style knives. I already have a decent set of Japanese Deba Hocho knives, but I just had to buy a souvenir gaff, a miniature version of a hook that everybody in the market used to grab boxes and fish (they are on the right of this display box.

    Here’s a merchant sharpening a knife on a waterstone. I have one of those too. Because of their single-sided concave edge, Japanese-style knives are significantly sharper and easier to sharpen than Western knives. Still, getting a really sharp edge is a bit of an art.

    There are numerous food stalls around the market. Here’s one of the cooler ones, with a giant steaming pot of something and a dude with a yakuza-like pompadour haircut. This was one of those few places in Japan that refused to serve us, gaijin.

    Instead, we went to a sushi place with slightly disturbing decoration: a doomed fish in an aquarium that watches you as you eat. The sushi was very fresh and reasonably priced, but not significantly better than what I am used to in New York.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:44 am on June 27, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cetaceans, Japanese cuisine, , , , Whale, Whale meat, Whaling   

    Deadprogrammer Visits Japan Part IVb : Day of the Tentacle 

    The variety of smaller sea creatures sold in the Tsukiji market is mind boggling. Here’s a small sampling of the pictures that I took.

    First of all, there are many, many different tentacled monstrocities.

    These seem to be destined for sashimi.

    Live tiger shrimp.

    Deep red color occures more in fish here more frequently than I am used to.

    I think this is some kind of sea robin.

    This seems to be Alfonsino.

    All kinds of unfamiliar bivalves.

    There’s stuff that I can’t even identify.

    And then, there’s stuff that I, sadly, can identify. This is whale meat. The price tag, if I read it correctly says 3800 yen per kilo. That’s about $20/lb.

    Japanese whailing is a highly controvercial practice, and I highly disapprove of it. Having said that, I have to mention that I’ve had whale meat a few times. In the Soviet times whale meat was sometimes sold in stores. People bought it not because it was particularly tasty (it wasn’t), but because regular meat was not available. Fried, it was very tough in texture, and in taste it was like a mix of pork and beef, yet with a fishy aftertaste.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:07 pm on May 17, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Fish products, , , food police, Food safety, Japanese cuisine, John Titor, poisoned food, processed food, , , Street vendor food, ,   

    Homemade Sashimi 

    I did not get to go fishing as much as I wanted to lately, and a recent winter flounder trip that despite amazing weather resulted in only one keeper fish is not a highlight of my fishing career. But the flounder sashimi that I made out of it was absolutely awesome.

    Fluke Sashimi

    Here’s a picture of striped bass sashimi that I made a few years back. I’m told that the dark brown (looks red in the picture for some reason) meat should be removed from fillets. It was very tasty anyway.

    Striped Bass Sashimi

    Food safety is not something to be taken lightly, of course. A lot of people gasp – homemade sashimi? That’s suicide! But if you ask me, food police, fear of lawsuits and American germophobia goes a little too far.

    Over the years I ate a lot of potentially deadly stuff. Street vendor food, for example. Did you ever wonder how those guys go to the bathroom? Cafeteria food. Oh, and not only American street vendor food and cafeteria food. Soviet too. I ate a lot of sushi and sashimi. I’ve had raw Korean beef. A lot of oysters, some rare steaks (usually I order medium-rare). In Ukraine I liked to snack on raw chicken eggs. I ate fish that I caught in the uber-polluted Black Sea. I even ate raw mussels (and they concentrate all the bad sea crap) there.

    And you know what? While long term health effects of my omnivorous eating are not known yet, I had a very mild case of food poisoning only once. From a reportedly unexpired can of Alaskan salmon.

    Alleged time traveler John Titor wrote this about American food:

    “What are people thinking? You willfully eat poisoned food. It’s very hard for me to find food here. It all scares the Hell out of me. I am amazed at the risks people here are willing to take with processed food. All of the food I eat here is grown and prepared by my family or myself.”

    I am scared myself. Food here for the most part does not taste right. The large scale growing and processing does something to it. I highly suspect that it’s one of the major contributing factors in the obesity epidemic.

    In any case, I remember watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” where he sat in a French bistro and pointed out half a dozen things that would be completely illegal in an American restaurant, but actually make a eating in that bistro amazing.

    As far as homemade sashimi is concerned, I hear a lot of talk about freezing fish overnight in a freezer to kill parasites before eating it. I’ve tried this, and it makes the texture of the fish mushy. I am not sure about this, but it seems to me that the only fish that gets that treatment is tuna – I’ve seen huge frozen carcasses in the Tsukiji fish market. In any case, raw fish that I caught myself if probably the freshest that it can be. The only way this sashimi could be any fresher is if I cut and eat the still alive fish right on the boat.

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