I think it’s fair to say that my wife and I have breathed a little new life into the family restaurant. For nearly 40 years it’s been known for great handmade food, home-grown rice, and its relaxing atmosphere, but recently it’s also suffered from a lack of workers and slow ticket times. Being young, foreign (one of us) and two extra sets of hands has earned us some fans from the customer base.
The other day one of our regular customers, the president of a local fishing company, brought a 2 kilo-bag of small fish with incredible kaleidoscopic stripes down their sides for me. They’re called きびなご (kibinago) in Japanese, silverstriped round herring in English. Although I wasn’t present for the flashing of Japanese fingers filleting 100 tiny fish, I sure still enjoyed the meal. We ate them raw, tempura fried, and fried with bread crumbs.
Recipe: Herring sashimi
With a pinch of the fingers, break the head away from the body and pull to remove the organs. Split from the head down the belly with your thumb, and rinse the interior cavity under cold water and then gently remove the bones with your fingers. Take off the tail with a pinch. There’s no need to remove any scales, but I usually pick up the fish by the side fins to eat, and leave the fins. If you can get fresh wasabi, grate and enjoy!
Recipe: Tempura or Kara-age herring
Remove the head and organs as above, but leave the bones (optional for tempura). Dip in iced tempura batter or roll in raw egg then bread crumbs, then fry in hot oil–either in a shallow frying pan or deep fryer for either. For kara-age, season with salt and pepper or citrus vinegar; for tempura, season with salt or dip in a tempura dipping sauce.
There were two more presents in the bag, as you can see on the right–if you bite into the head, the cartilaginous bone is exposed and you can pull it out. Dip the rest in soy and it’s a delicious bite. Even given my experience with Japanese food I was a little reluctant but loved it in the end. 😉