One of the fall favorites in Japan

One of the fall favorites in Japan

In Japan, fishing for Mackerel Pike (Sanma, in Japanese) starts early July.  But they are at their tastiest in the fall, as they wear more fat going towards the breeding season.  We have received excellent Mackerel Pike from Japan, and after a day of curing by Chef Maeda, they are ready to be served.  Enjoy as sushi or sashimi (tataki).  The fall mackerel pike contains as much as 20% fat, fat that is both tasty and healthy as a source of Omega-3 fatty acid.

 

 

Chef Maeda has also prepared the Abalone Steamed in Sake, which gained many fans the last time he went through the five-hour process of steaming.  So, please come visit and enjoy the Edo-mae (Tokyo style) Sushi at Maeda Sushi Restaurant.

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One of the more coveted sushi

One of the more coveted sushi

This week, Chef Maeda introduces Abalone prepared Edo-mae (Tokyo Style), steamed in sake.  As a sashimi, fresh, raw abalone’s chewy texture with that distinctive flavor of the ocean is treasured.  But perhaps, as sushi, that chewiness prevents it from mixing with sushi rice quickly on palate.  When a good, fresh abalone is properly steamed in sake, it is no longer chewy, instead it becomes delicately tender, easily melting away and mixing and spreading with the sushi rice in the mouth.  Edo-mae sushi chefs take pride in giving their own touch to the fresh ingredients to bring out the best flavor, and this 4-hour steaming of abalone is one of the most intricate techniques that is passed on from a master chef to the disciple.  It may not always be available, so please do not miss out.

 

 

Californian abalone is steamed in sake

Californian abalone is steamed in sake

 

 

 

 

Available with either Tosazu vinegar or Chef Maeda's Sour Plum Sauce...pictured with no sauce here.

Available with either Tosazu vinegar or Chef Maeda's Sour Plum Sauce...pictured with no sauce here.

 

Mackerel Pike Sunomono – $10

 

As we get closer to fall, mackerel pikes (SANMA in Japanese) in northern Japan Sea fatten up, providing us one of the most beloved seasonal flavors.  Here is Mackerel Pike Sunomono.  Chef Maeda uses these mackerel pikes marinated in sweet vinegar, rolls them up in sheets of daikon radish and shiso leaves with radish sprouts, cucumber, and pickled ginger to create a soothing harmony of flavors.  On a hot day, enjoy it with the vinegar marinade (special vinegar sauce called TOSAZU in Japanese).  Vinegar encourages your appetite, helps your digestion, and helps you fight the fatigue.  We also offer this with Chef Maeda’s original Sour Plum Sauce, which is pleasantly sweet and sour made from actual sour plums.  As we approach the fall season, look out for Chef Maeda to offer fresh mackerel pike sushi (instead of the marinated kind).

 

 

Horse Mackerel Sunomono – $10

 

This same appetizer can also be made with horse mackerel (AJI in Japanese), in season until mid to late fall, another good option to keep in your mind.  Currently with more fat content, it will have a softer vinegar flavor – available in both Tosazu vinegar and Sour Plum Sauce.

 

 

 

 

An example of the Deluxe Chirashi at Maeda Sushi Restaurant

*pictured – Deluxe Chirashi

 

Chirashi is a very popular style of sushi in Japan. 

ちらし (chee-rahsh-ee) means “scattered” or “spread” in Japanese and the slices of fish and other ingredients are literally spread atop a bowl of sushi rice.  It is popular during lunch time for the busy Japanese businessmen as it is quicker to consume than having the chef make sushi piece by piece.  But some innovative chefs have made chirashi more than just a “lunch special,” and Maeda is one of them.

 

Maeda’s chirashi is accentuated by the marinated salmon roe which he gives a generous potion to every bowl.  The gentle soy sauce-salmon roe flavor sinks into the whole bowl to give it the signature taste.  Of course, the other ingredients are of the highest quality and in abundance (more piled than spread).  The colorful Chirashi features fore mentioned marinated salmon roe, tuna, white fish in season, shrimp, salmon, egg, kamaboko-fishcake, etc.  Add sea urchin, eel, fatty tuna to Deluxe Chirashi.  Ask for the “omakase” chirashi to have Maeda freely create a chirashi with the day’s best ingredients probably including his hikarimono.  He calls his Omakase Chirashi, “a bottomless bowl of fish.”  It is chirashi supreme, an ultimate.  Chef Maeda applies some final touches to his Deluxe ChirashiAnother common thread besides the salmon roe in all chirashi is the shiitake mushroom and baby bamboo shoot.  They are braised in classic Japanese broth and full of smoky, sweet flavor.  We hope that you find the little brown pieces hidden beneath all the colorful fish to be a pleasant surprise.

 

“After working on it for 30 years, I settled on the current style of chirashi back in 1997, and haven’t changed much since.  I wanted the right balance between different fish, between fish and sushi rice, and among all the colors.”  Chef Maeda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.