August 3, 2011

Ko Aji no Nanban Zuke/小あじの南蛮漬け

I bought a pack of ko aji (small horse mackerel) on the day the flood took place (July 30), and put it in the optical partial freezing compartment of the fridge. Today (August 3), I finally got around to use them to make nanban zuke. One great advantage of a partial freezing compartment is that once I put some food in it, I can forget about its expiration date for weeks.
At first, I thought I would try the technique explained in this video at 1:25 and after to clean the ko aji, but I decided to cut off the head with the deba. Well, I thought it was a kind of scary to have them whole... (Don't laugh!)
I found one aji had a small sardine in its mouth!
Be sure to remove the blood. That being said, I failed to remove it completely (because the aji had been partially frozen?).
And, make sure you don't hurt yourself with the back fin.
I later cut big ko aji in half. I put all the ko aji in an I-wrap bag, added 2 tsp katakuriko (potato starch), and shook the bag to evenly coat the aji.
Deep-fry at a low temperature (160-170C) for 10 min. so that even the backbone becomes soft enough.
As usual, my marinade is a 3:3:1 mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar (75 ml, 75 ml, 25 ml this time).
いつも通り、タレはお酢としょう油と砂糖を3:3:1で混ぜたものです(今回は75 ml、75 ml、25 mlにしました)。
”Where are the ko aji?", you might ask. Here they are.
I'm sure the ko aji no nanban zuke will be much tastier tomorrow!


Fräulein Trude said...

In Germany we have a dish very similar made from harring
The marinade is made from wine, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices as pepper corns, laurel leaves, mustard seeds. The dish has to rest 3 days after cooking to develop the best flavour.
But I must confess Ko Aji no Nanban Zuke tasted better. I guess it is the soy sauce that makes the difference. Besides fish heads - I did not laugh but I am curious - didn't you snack salted fish heads? I accidently watched a video about squid sashimi from Hokkaido - heads can be really scary (and better don't show such lively sashimi to innocent tourist from europe, they may faint)

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, is is telepathy that you planned nanban zuke for today???
Your marinade differs from Tsuji's one I used (yo udon't use dashi or mirin). I must test it one day too! I t looks delicious. I also see carrots and... daikon?
I must add something about hurting yourself with aji: I actually had once something like splinters under my skin (I had to remove them with a needle!!!), and I'm sure it came from aji.... This is the fish which defends itself very well even after its death ;-)
What does "ko" in the dish mean? (sorry for bothering... but now that I learn Japanese I am very curious).
Kiki, I think my mum used to make the same recipe (same spices+allspice), but with small river fish...

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Thanks for the link. I wonder if it's simply vinegared or deep-fried first.

As for the fish heads..., well, our minds are illogical! I can have shishamo (capelin, to be exact), small ayu (sweetfish), wakasagi (lake smelt), and other small fish whole without a problem, but somehow, some way, I felt that eating those particular ko aji whole would be too much for me.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Telepathy? (laugh)
But, haven't we talked a lot about nanban zuke lately?

I can use mirin for this dish, but in that case, I have to boil it first to evaporate the alcohol. As you may know, mirin provides mild sweetness while sugar provides acute sweetness. I personally don't think dashi is necessary for this dish.

It's onion slices, not daikon. I wanted to include green peppers, but I had microwaved all the green peppers I had in the fridge and stored them in the freezer and I forgot to leave some for this dish! So, I used carrot instead.

That photo of the back fin was for you (laugh)!

Ko 小 is an affix meaning small, as in
ko zaru (< saru = monkey) 小猿, 小ざる, 子ザル = small monkey
Ko zaru can also mean child monkey, in which case, the kanji 子 (child) is used.
ko Bentz = small-sized Mercedes-Benz

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, thank you! I was sure there was something else apart from onions (I see you also like lots of onions, like me!).
So you remember my adventures with the aji?
If you saw what my kitchen looks like when I open fish and clean it... I'm always joking it's like a murder scene ;-) Nothing to do with the clean board on the youtube videos!
Thank you for the Japanese lesson :-) As you see my beginner level is really beginner... I even don't know the word "small". (I can even remember the character. This one looks easy!).

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: I like onions! When I was a kid, I often asked my mother to double the amount of onions when she made niku-jaga (meat-potato stew).

Fräulein Trude said...

Hiroyuki: Brathering (roasted and pickled herring) is treated the same way as you ajis. The marinade makes the difference good vs. not as good marinades
I have never seen Brathering made with bread crumbles only with flour

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Thanks for the link. Quite interesting. The Japanese also like herring, especially the people of Niigata, but treat herring in different ways.
I hope I can talk about this in the future. One problem: I, for one, is not a big fan of herring!

Fräulein Trude said...

Hiroyuki: In former times Herring was the main food of the poor. So we have different dishes with herring. Fresh herring is used for Brathering but it is more common to pickle herring in salt-brine and afterwards make different kinds of salad from pickled herring (based on mayonnaise or sour cream), or eat pickled herring with potatoes. Do people pickle/ferment herring in Japan? (look for fish/Matjes pickled in barrels). At home we like to eat herring (matjes)-salad with matjes, apples, pickled cucumber, pickled beet root and onions and dressing based on sour cream the most. I think there are as many recipes for herring-salad as there are grandmothers left.

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Thanks for your detailed description and the link.

I don't think herrings are pickled or fermented in Japan. Fresh ones are often salt-grilled, and migaki nishin (dried herrings) are very popular, and are often used in nimono (simmered dishes). Nishin soba, a specialty of Kyoto, uses migaki nishin.

Do a Google image search for 身欠きにしん and にしんそば, and you will get lots of results.

okasan said...

Is nanbanzuke traditionally only used on 'fried food'?
I've tried a couple of nanbanzuke dishes in town: cold sake no nanban zuke and the salmon was fried. Another dish I tried was tori no nanbanzuke, a hot dish that was fried also.
What else can you cook with this sauce?


Hiroyuki said...

okasan: In most dishes using nanban dare (sauce), the main ingredient (meat or fish) is usually coated and deep-fried, but you can be creative and make your own nanbanzuke without deep-frying.
For example, I made tsukune nanbanzuke the other day, as I described here:

Do a google search for
揚げない 南蛮漬け 作り方
and you will get lots of such recipes.

helenjp said...

One of my favorite dishes! Your aji look so neat and tidy. Glad to see your blog.

Hiroyuki said...

helenjp: Nice to see you again! How have you been??

I wish I could get smaller ko aji so I could have them whole...