November 11, 2014

Smoked Hokke/ホッケの燻製(くんせい)

I got hokke no kunsei (smoked hokke) from my father.
Hokke is called Okhotsk atka mackerel in English.
ホッケは英語ではOkhotsk atka mackerelと言います。
Smoked hokke sounds delicious, and
looks delicious!
And, it was delicious!

I have googled extensively and found that smoked hokke is a specialty of Hokkaido. It think it should be called hokke jerky rather than smoked hokke. It's smoked and seasoned with sugar, salt, and other seasonings, and it's very tough! I also searched for proper ways to eat smoked hokke.

Just peel off the skin and have it. Or, slightly grill it to make it more aromatic. Your hands will get very oily while having it. You will need some tissue paper.
You may want to use scissors to cut it into small pieces, and you may also want to place it on some newspaper (and wipe oil off your hands with the newspaper)


That being said, I have come up with an easy way. Place some smoked hokke on plastic wrap, and heat in microwave for 10-20 seconds. Peel off the skin and have it.

The flesh is amber.
Wipe off oil with tissue paper. Or, simply wash your hands with soup.
I have one problem to solve: What to do with the skin.
問題が一つ: 皮をどうするか?
You can simply throw it away, but are there any good ways to cook it?


Kyoto Kitchen said...

If the hokke has a smoky flavour, then could you use the skin in making dashi (instead of katsuo-bushi)?

Hiroyuki said...

Kyoto Kitchen: Well, I don't think you could, because, as you may be fully aware, you need to extract umami components from the flesh to make dashi.

I'm thinking of using the skin as a kind of flavor enhancer. It's not uncommon to add pieces of skin to certain dishes like takikomi gohan.

Kyoto Kitchen said...

Oh, right, yes I see your point - I was thinking just of flavour but of course umami is an essential component. Thank you for reminding me of that important fact.

Fräulein Trude said...

Those smoked fish do look cold smoked and air dried. Totally different to our smoked makarels - hot smoked to be eaten soon, the meat stays juicy I sometimes put the leftover skin of smoked fish into a broth to get a smoky flavor (eel..), sieve it after a few minutes simmering. For example for creamy potato soup with shrimp or lobster.

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Thanks for the link. In Japan, there is a smoked-only version of hokke, just like your mackerel, so I think the term hokke no kunsei is a misnomer for this type of smoked and dried hokke. Anyway, I must say that the hokke no kunsei (I would say hokke jerky) is very, very delicious, and addictive!

Thanks for your idea about the skin. I think the skin contains collagen, and it's hard for me just to throw it away! I keep all the skin in the freezer for later use.

9895039531 seeandoh said...

Smoked Mackerel is new to us. But we have salted dry Mackerel, Sardines etc here...We eat the fish with the skin. So there is no waste. Perhaps you can try it like Chicken Skin fried and eaten by Filipinos.

Hiroyuki said...

seeandoh: In Japan, some eat a whole fish, skin and all, while others don't.

The English name for hokke is quite misleading. Hokke has its own unique flavor and texture, which are quite different from those of common mackerel.

Sissi said...

What a coincidence! I tasted hokke for the first time this year (just came back from Japan). It was simply grilled, but I'm sure this dried version must be delicious (I love dried cod, but am not fan of the fresh one, so I know that drying changes the flavours a lot!).
Looking forward to seeing what you'll do with the skin.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: You sound like you had a wonderful trip to Japan!

I suppose you had "hokke no hiraki", which is now very popular throughout Japan. You may not believe this, but hokke was little known outside of Hokkaido until 1980s. I had grilled hokke no hiraki in late 1980 for the very first time during a trip to Hokkaido, at a robatayaki-style izakaya. It was exotic to me at that time.
If you are not familiar with robatayaki, here's an explanation:

I keep all the skin in the freezer. I'm still thinking of good ways to use it!

Like I said above in the comment section, smoked hokke can be addictive. It goes very well with sake!

Sissi said...

Thank you yes, I had a lovely stay this year. Mainly thanks to my slightly improved Japanese and a firm knowledge of katakana+hiragana and some basic kanji... For the first time I was able to enter an izakaya without fearing there would be no pictures in the menu ;-) I could talk a bit to waiters too, so it was a big relief...
I think it was just grilled hokke, it was not open like aji and I don't think it was written "hiraki" on the menu (haha! one of the rare food-related kanji I know...).
Now you will be very surprised but I actually went this year to a robatayaki! They had such excellent seafood and fish... my squid-sceptical husband has fallen in love with it! I have also discovered there pickled wasabi stalks! I kept on looking for them for the rest of my stay in Tokyo but not a single shop sold them... I went to a robatayaki called Ishikarigawa in Shinjuku (the "electronic" district). It was recommended by website, but looked so weird outside... I hesitated a lot before entering... I never regretted my decision. We felt like staying there all night... eating and drinking...

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Oh, you are now an advanced student of Japanese!

Maybe you had just one side of hokke no hiraki. Do a Google image search for ほっけ 焼き, and you will see both whole and one side only versions of grilled hokke.

And, yes, I AM surprised to learn that you went to a robatayaki!

Sissi said...

It was by pure accident ;-) Apart from one BBQ dinner in the Korean district, I went to a different izakaya every night (we love drinking shochu and having snacks for hours, so izakayas were the best solution for dinners) and I had no idea this one was a robatayaki!
You are kind, but I'm not an advanced student at all... I am ashamed of my level in both spoken and read Japanese... though it allowed me to ask simple questions about food or products in shops. I brought several cookery books and even some Shinya Shokudo and one Kodoku no Gurume to practice reading, but I already see cookery books will be much easier, though restrictive in the vocabulary.
You are right! It was a half of dried hokke probably but it didn't smell as strong as aji and was softer... I must have missed the "hiraki" in the menu (I must check photos... another learning help: I photographed many menus in bars and restaurants!).