We have been enjoying sanma sashimi at Tako Grill in the past few weeks (seasonal sanma from Japan), when we get frozen sanma ourselves, we like it simply salted and grilled on a charcoal fire. Since I got another frozen sanma from the Japanese grocery store, I decided to do something I have not done before—fry it, especially since I saw fried sanma in one of the food blogs I follow.
I served with my version of tartar sauce and a side of tomato and cucumber onion salad.
The preparation takes some effort since you need to filet and debone the sanma or "san-mai-ni-orosu 三枚におろす" in Japanese. "San-mai" is what you end up with after filleting. It means three sheets ("mai" is the counter for sheets of paper or something thin). There are 3 pieces; two filets and one back bone. (#1 in the picture below). To do this, I first washed and gutted the sanma. I then fileted sanma starting by inserting my filleting knife just beneath the front fin, and cutting perpendicular into the fish. When I hit the bone, I turned the blade 90 degrees, parallel to the back bone and cut through while applying some pressure on the skin side of the filet with the flat of my palm. I repeated this on the other side and viola I had two filets and back bone (#1).
Using a Japanese bone tweezer, I removed all the small bones (belly part and along the center line of filets). Since the belly portion does not have much meat and with the bones removed mostly skin remains I merely cut off the excess skin. I made four cleaned sanma filets (#2). I removed the moisture using paper towels and salted both sides. I placed it on a paper towel lined plate and left it in the refrigerator until I was ready too fry them up (for several hours).
I blotted the excess moisture which appeared on the surface of the filets. I cut the filets in half (for easier fit into my frying pan) and dredged in flour, coated in egg water and then rolled in panko crumbs in the same manner as any cutlets (#3). I fried in a 350F oil for 1-2 minutes each side turning once until done (#4).
I made a quick tartar sauce. I chopped up coins of "bread and butter" pickles. I also chopped up one slice of pickled jalapeno pepper since I had it for some heat. I added these to some store-bought mayonnaise, a bit of lemon juice and zest of the lemon (micrograted).
The sanma fry was crispy and good. The only thing is that once it is fried up, somehow it tasted like any blue skin fish. We still enjoyed this sanma. Call me traditional, but I still like salted and grilled sanma with grated daikon the best.