September 19, 2011

Sanma from Meguro/目黒の秋刀魚

First, read this rakugo story: Sanma from Meguro.
In those days, sanma were considered a "ge zakana" (< sakana), or inferior fish, a type of fish that a lord should never eat.
A funny story, but one can learn an important lesson from it: Elaborate cooking will not necessarily make the ingredients tastier.
面白い話ですが、大切な教訓を得ることができます: 手の込んだ料理をしても、必ずしも具材が美味しくなるわけではない、ということです。

In connection with this rakugo story, two similar festivals are held when sanma are in season.

On September 4, 2011, the 16th Meguro no Sanma Matsuri (Japanese only) was held in Meguro, in Tokyo, where 6,000 sanma from Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, were charcoal grilled and offered free of charge, together with sudachi (a type of citrus fruit) from Tokushima Prefecture and daikon oroshi made with daikon from Tochigi Prefecture. This festival is described here.

And, on September 18, the 35th Meguro Citizens Festival (also called the Meguro SUN Matsuri) was also held in Meguro, where another Meguro no Sanma Matsuri was held, where 5,000 sanma from Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture were charcoal grilled and offered for free, together with grated daikon made with daikon from Miyagi, kabosu (a type of citrus fruit) from Oita, and soy sauce from Kesennuma.

Note that both Miyako and Kesennuma were devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

Edited to add a link to an article of the Japan Times.
追記: Japan Timesの記事のリンクを貼ります。


Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, the Sanma from Meguro story is lovely.
It reminds me of the French saying "Appetite is the best condiment".

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Is the saying equivalent to the English one, "Hunger is the best sauce"?

The saying is true, but the rakugo story has more truth in it. Some foods may not be as tasty as they are said or considered to be.

Even today, the tai (sea bream) is considered to be a high-quality fish, partly because of its resemblance to "medetai" (auspicious) in sound, but for me, it's just another white-fleshed fish. Another example is matsutake. The Japanese are just crazy for this mushroom. It may be fragrant (at least to the Japanese nose), but the flavor is rather disappointing. I believe that the oyster mushroom is far better than matsutake in flavor and texture.

I feel sorry for the tonosama (lord), and the story reminds me of episode 5, Butter Rice, of the TV drama, Shinya Shokudo, where Komi-chan takes a food critic to the Shinya Shokudo.

Sissi said...

I remember very well this episode! It was so true and I am sure many food critics feel the same when finally they get a chance to have a simple, but perfectly made home food...
As for the fish, I have never understood why people love salmon so much. I do like it when it's not too greasy (especially wild), but I would happily exchange it for an aji in tempura or aji no hiraki or mackerel simmered in miso... I think it's the colour that makes people go crazy for salmon and pay high price especially for the smoked one.
My favourite Japanese mushroom is eringi. I could have it every day, but it very expensive (imported from Korea). I buy it anyway, I lose all control of my mind when I see it.