Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hamachi Yellow tail and avocado sashimi ハマチとアボカドの刺身

Hamachi ハマチ or yellow tail amberjack is young buri ブリ. This is one of the fish which get promoted or "shusse-uo" 出世魚 as it grows up. There are somewhat different definitions and names according to the regions (Kantou 関東 such as in Tokyo vs. Kansai 関西 such as in Osaka) but a fully grown specimen is called "buri" 鰤 ぶり in either region. It is always difficult to find the exact English counter part to Japanese fish names. "Kampachi" カンパチ is another one belonging to the amberjack family and is a very popular sashimi item (most available here is farm raised in Hawaii. Actually, wild caught Kampachi is reportedly not suited to eat as sashimi because it is often infested with parasites). This fish may be different from Hamachi but I am not sure how similar or different taxonomically. (If this sounds confusing because it is.)  Kampachi appears to be less fatty but has a more delicate flavor. The majority of hamachi you see at sushi bars are also aqua cultured. In general, we are usually more interested in tuna and uni but this time, I got frozen sashimi block of hamachi from Catalina Offshore products.

Here is the hamachi sashimi I served with a "sashimi" avocado, Campari tomato with moromi miso もろみみそ and quickly made daikon namasu 大根なます(daikon in sweet vinegar). Wasabi is, as usual, real wasabi from the tube but this time, I had to perform a surgery (C-section) and take out the wasabi from the tube and mix the liquid and solid together to reconstitute (This is one of the problems of real wasabi in a tube--the water gets squeezed out but not the solids). It does have a nice smell and flavor very close to real grated wasabi rhizome, though.
Some times, Catalina does carry fresh hamachi but we have not tried it yet. This one was from Kyushu 九州, farm raised and flash frozen in minus 50C judging from what the package stated. It was treated with carbon monoxide (like a frozen tuna sashimi block) for retention of the color (it does not change the taste, is not preservative and is not harmful to your health). This package was rather large (long) and I had to soak it for several hours in the kitchen sink filled with cold water reinforced with ice cubes to thaw it. (They recommend using ice water rather than running water because, I suppose, the running water thaws the fish too quickly and unevenly). After it is thawed and out of the package the sashimi block looks like seen on the right below.
We really enjoyed this hamachi sashimi. It is as good or even a bit better than what we get in regular sushi bars (Many sushi bars also serve previously frozen hamachi). Since I did not have any other sashimi items, I also served sliced ripe avocado as a sashimi. You would be surprised at how well avocado slices go with wasabi and soy sauce. According to my wife, avocado served this way should be classified as fish.

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