People often ask my opinion for the best sushi places in the Bay Area. I have a few favorite places, but it’s just among the places I’ve been, not all too many when compared to the whole vastness of the Bay itself. There are millions of sushi places in California. Sometimes I wonder which one is more popular: sushi or taqueria?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my sushi. Sushi is definitely up there on my long list of favorite things. But I realize that I really don’t eat sushi that often. Maybe once every few months? A friend from Guatemala once told me that she eats sushi once a week. I was shocked, since I know she’s not one to exaggerate. Later, I discovered that my colleagues from China and Iceland also were eating sushi more often than I was. I thought how could someone who didn’t grow up eating Japanese food love sushi that much? Then I also realized that I eat Mexican food more often than sushi.
To me, Japanese food doesn’t always equate to sushi. More often I eat Japanese food right at home, the humble kinds, such as grilled fish, miso udon soup, ochazuke, pickled vegetables, cold soba noodles, etc. Last week, I picked up a few Pike Mackerel from an Asian grocer. They are one of my favorite fish for grilling/broiling. I cooked the first one grilled, but I wanted to have it in a different way for the second one, so I tried miso braising.
Typically Sanma (pike mackerel) is eaten grilled/broiled and served with grated daikon and soy sauce or ponzu. Saba (mackerel) is the one that’s more commonly braised in miso. But because they both belong in the same family, they can be prepared interchangeably.
I liked the braising method of cooking pike mackerel. It didn’t stink the kitchen as much as grilling, and it was very tasty. Mackerels generally have strong fishy flavor. In fact my own Japanese grandmother back home, hates mackerels for that reason. So if it’s your first time trying mackerel/pike mackerel, the miso braised kind might be easier to try. A bowl of steamed brown rice, a side of cooked vegetables, and a small bowl of seaweed soup go perfectly with this dish, completing a humble Japanese meal right in your home! Itadakimasu!
Recipe of the Day - Miso Braised Pike Mackerel (Sanma no Misoni)
Ingredients: (serves 2)
2 fresh pike mackerel
2/3 c water
2/3 c cooking sake
3 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2” cube fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp miso (I used red)
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
Julienned fresh ginger and chopped scallions for garnishing
Wash the fish, cut the tails and heads off. Cut the rest of fish into half or thirds (depends on the lengths). Remove the guts and lightly rinse off the excess gut on the fish with cold water.
In a medium sized pot, combine water, sake, mirin, sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Heat over medium to medium-low, place the fish, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. (Do not boil.)
Reduce the heat to low, add miso and oyster sauce, and cook for another 10 minutes or until sauce gets thickened slightly. (If you want thicker sauce, after removing the fish and ginger, add cornstarch slurry and cook over low heat for a minute or two.)
Serve warm with julienned fresh ginger and chopped scallions.