Sea Eel, anago

 

As in the freshwater variation, sea eel is a cooked ingredient of sushi.  Called anago in Japanese, its characters mean “hole-child,” as they hide in nooks and holes in the sand during the day, coming out only at night to feed.  The freshwater cousin is better known in the United States, but the sea eel is the eel preferred by sushi houses in Japan.  Sea eel is a cooked ingredient of sushi and the all important sauce, called tsume, is also made by the chef – making it a great showcase of the chef’s taste preference and skills.

 

Maeda’s sea eel is poached so softly, it breaks down immediately once in your mouth.  The texture is very fine, much finer than that of the freshwater eel.  The sweet fat is lighter and gentler.   Tsume, the sauce, is made from the broth which the sea eel was poached.  To the broth, soy sauce, mirin, and some sugar among other things are added, and the simmering for a long period thickens the broth into a tsume.  After making the sushi in his hands, Maeda would brush the tsume on the sea eel just before serving it to you.  The sweet and sour aroma of tsume teases you as you bring the sushi to your mouth.  As the sea eel melts, it wraps around every grain of shari (sushi-rice), all seem to meet in a harmony of flavors, textures, and warmth.  It is also a great source of vitamin A.  Now available year-round, sea eel’s natural best season is spring and early summer.

 

“Anago has to melt in your mouth…but if it’s too soft, it will fall apart on the touch of chopstick or hand.  To make it just right, timing is very important during the poaching.  As in any living things, every sea eel is different, so I pay close attention and treat each of them differently.”  Maeda

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Salmon Roe - Ikura 

Pictured:  salmon roe, salmon roe in marinade, salmon roe sushi

 

 

Maeda’s salmon roe is different.  If you have a bad impression on salmon roe – or “ikura” in Japanese, please try one of his salmon roe sushi, or even chirashi, to see if we can change your mind.  Salmon roe, especially what is normally available in the United States, are not ready to be served as is, at least according to Maeda.  Usually, they are overwhelmingly salty.  Maeda’s salmon roe is marinated.  His marinade made from soy sauce, sake and mirin, among other things, eliminates the excessive saltiness, and brings out the naturally sweet flavor of the roe to the front.  Because of the marinade, salmon roe at Maeda Sushi is very deep orange, perfectly round and slippery smooth.  Once in your mouth, it will burst on your bite with its creamy, sweet juice that suggests the grandeur of the ocean.  Maeda uses ample amount of this special salmon roe on his famous chirashi, the marinade sinking into the bowl and giving its signature flavor.  As a general rule, we cannot send the marinated salmon roe to go, because it is meant to be eaten as soon as the chef serves it…please dine in to try this.  Salmon roe is available year-round, but traditionally, the best season is fall.

Pickled Ginger - gari

 

 

There is always a small pile of pickled ginger – called “gari” in Japanese – accompanying sushi.  They are meant to be eaten in small amounts in between different kinds of sushi, as it refreshes your mouth and prepares you for a new flavor.  Maeda’s gari is lighter in color and less syrupy than the version commonly served in typical Japanese restaurants.  That is because Maeda marinates them himself with salt, then a mix of vinegar and sugar.  It works perfectly well to cleanse your palate with its pungent, yet deep spice.  The antiseptic gari also helps in digesting, making it a perfect companion to sushi.

Anybody with money can buy a fresh piece of tuna.  But often years of training and experience is required in less obvious things like gari.  Bad, sugary gari can ruin a perfect piece of tuna sushi.”  Chef Maeda