Autumn arrived and salmons are returning. Swimming and hopping up the stream back to their birthplace, carrying hopes and dreams of the future. And….erm they got netted.
A while ago i wrote a post about the “Salmon” in Japanese called Syake, that it is not supposed to be eaten raw. While the flesh need to be cooked, fish roe is a delicacy in Japan enjoyed raw and during autumn called Ikura. I found this fisherman from Hokkaido online selling ikishime(活き締め, a technic to immediately brain dead a fish to ensure freshness) whole Aki-syake with roe at amazing price, when factoring in market price for the roe alone the flesh would be considered free.
I ordered of course….and found out that i completely underestimate the size of it upon delivery. I already went for the smallest one i swear! How am i gonna deal with a fish that does not fit on my kitchen work space?
On top of that, i had never fillet a salmon nor process the roe before. What had i got myself into truly. I guess foodie spirit is not a force to reckon with.
After consulting the mighty Youtube and reading the roe processing instructions came with the fish i set out to work. That fish is almightily slippery which is a sign of freshness but that was not helping the situation when the objective was to slice it open. Finally after much struggle i had the roe. The roe sat in the fridge while i filleted the fish which i had no photos of the end result as my filleting skill was really questionable. They made it look so easy in the videos(sad).
Towards processing the roe, i made 1L of 3% salt water as instructed. Half was used to wash the roe right after it was taken out to remove blood, slime and parasite. Yes, there were parasite near the roe sack and on rare occasion between the eggs so a thorough wash was compulsory. I actually found a few twitching little white worms in the salt water after wash and rinse that gave me a small shiver. Next step was to dissemble the roe into individual eggs. The second half of the salt water was used here in the bowl. The roe was gently pressed and moved around on the grill net, and the eggs will fall through into the salt water.
It took me 90mins to finish separating the eggs, then more washing to remove any empty egg casing or external membrane. I panicked here as some of the eggs turned foggy so i googled and found out that was normal. The Ikura in restaurant was clear and transparent because they were pickled. So mine will regain its beautiful looks as well.
You would have guess that after more than 2 hours of hard work i would be having some nice Ikura for dinner. NOPE. It has to be pickled overnight! I used good soy sauce fermented in cedar barrel, mirin, sake and water for seasoning. The sauce was lightly boiled and chilled before incorporated with the roe. Then into the fridge it went. And me to bed. I skipped dinner because it was just too late by then….
Next day the grand reveal moment! It turned out beautifully!!
Finally, i get to enjoy the taste of autumn. To make two color seafood bowl, I bought some boiled baby sardine(Shirasu) from the supermarket, then garnished with Óba(A type of perilla leaf), pickled young ginger(Gari), wasabi and broccoli sprouts. For the sides i had grilled eggplant Denraku then the classic Japanese eggroll. A bowl of warm miso soup would perfect it so i used the unwanted part of the fish such as middle bone and the rest of the carcass for a simple salmon miso soup with Shitake mushroom.
It was a fun adventure and very rewarding!