Fish are simply the most delicious in Autumn and early Winter. After all, they are swimming their guts out, and building up fat for the winter. Fat is good. Fish are good. Fatty fish are best. Check out the five tasty fish you will want to put on your plate this autumn.
You can find these pescatarian dreams in your nearby supermarket, at many izakayas, and of course down at the local fishmonger. Make friends with your fishmonger. He will give you good eats for cheap.
The king of the autumn fish! This is one of the most authentic dishes you can try on your trip to Japan. Sanma is sold in a variety of ways, sushi, salted and grilled, fresh, and simmered. I prefer the grilled option. Simple and delicious, you just need a little salt, or maybe a squeezed citrus fruit like yuzu, and you are in for a yummy treat.
A close second to the king, saba is simply too delicious for words, or, at least, words polite enough to write here. Think of all the four letter words you know, add delicious, this is saba. Commonly served grilled, you can find them in supermarkets whole, cut, salted, or even pre-grilled.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my fish, and these are one of the more popular ones, but they just give me the creeps. It is the eyes! Those big goofy eyes! Chop of the heads, and I am fine to eat them. The fish is delicious as sashimi (no eyes to get you!), sushi, grilled, or the absolute best – deep fried like tempura. The bones are a little salty and crunchy, and it is like eating a healthier, more protein filled potato chip. Try some at your local Japanese pub!
This fish actually has a few different Japanese names, depending on size, but Kohada is fine enough. It can be found in supermarkets, restaurants, and in sushi shops where they are most delicious. While many find the smell stronger than other fish, I think it is simply delicious cooked up naturally. To avoid the stronger smell, a popular dish is sushi. The fish is often lightly pickled in salt and vinegar to get rid of the offending taste, and placed on top of sushi rice. Because it is a thin fish, sushi chefs often make intricately folded designs on the sushi, or cut the fish back in artistic ways. If you see this on a seasonal menu at your local sushi shop, give it a try!
I would say this is one of the most popular fish in Japan and in Japanese culture. There are so many dishes, so many cooking options. In fact, it is a staple of soup stocks and other non-main dishes simply because it is often dried, then sliced thinly or grated into a powder. The next time you eat okonomiyaki and wonder what the thin brown stuff is on top – that is dried katsuo.
One of the best ways to enjoy this wonderful fish is katsuo tataki, shown below. This involves searing the outside of the fish, slicing it up, and enjoying the combination of cooked on the outside, raw on the inside. You can find it in supermarkets, or on izakaya menus.
If fish are not your thing, there are a variety of other autumn and winter foods you can enjoy in Japan. However, if you do like fish, then don’t miss out. On second thought, if you don’t like fish and live in Japan, man, you are going to miss out on a whole bunch of yummies! This is the best time of all year to enjoy flavourful, and reasonably priced, fish. Tis the season to be jolly! And eat a ton of yummy fish.