Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Suzuki

Japanese Sea BassLateolabrax japonicus. スズキ、鱸。

A beautiful and delicious fish, with a shiny, silvery skin and mild-flavored, white flesh. In Japan it is compared in quality to sea bream (tai). Sea bass can reach a length of one meter. It lives near rocky shores and in estuaries and is a popular target of Japanese anglers.

Like yellowtail (buri), sea bass is a Shusse-uo, a fish whose name changes as it grows. It is therefore associated with advancement in life and seen as a luck-bringing fish. There are many regional varieties in the names by which the smaller sea bass is called in Japan; in the Kanto area, young fry is called koppa, the fish of one year old and appr. 25 cm in length is called seigo, and when it reaches 50 cm and is 2 to 3 years old it is named fukko. After that it finally becomes suzuki.

The season of sea bass is summer (although now available all the year - it is also farmed) and its meat has a delicious flavor rivaling both red seabream (madai) in summer, and hirame in winter. The meat from the back is chewy, while that from the belly is more fatty and soft. Like hirame, suzuki makes an elegant, paper-thin sashimi (often as arai, thinly cut sashimi that has been immersed in cold water). It is delicious on sushi, but also eaten in one-pot dishes (nabemono), or steamed (mushimono, especially sea bass steamed in sake - suzuki no sake-mushi - is a popular dish). It can also be grilled, either with salt or herbs and prepared à la meunière.

Suzuki no shioyaki (Salt-grilled Sea Bass)
[Salt-grilled sea bass]