Tag Archives: food

Fish and Chips

Though not quite.

At the end of 2011, I came upon something called 101 in 1001. The premise is that you come up with 101 things to do and you have 1001 days in which to complete them. You can put whatever you want on the list, from ‘learn to knit’ to ‘visit London’ to ‘make a dentist appointment’. I whipped up a list and set the start date for January 1, 2012. That means I’ve been chipping away at the list for little over a year now, with about 40 items completed so far. It’s the kind of thing that it’s nice to check in on every once in awhile, to see if you finished something off or if you’re looking for something to do.

One of the items on my list was ‘cook a sanma fish and eat it’. Sanma is what the Japanese call Pacific Saury – it’s a type of fish that’s commonly eaten grilled. I added it to my list because 1) I rarely cook fish, even though I like it, and 2) when I do cook fish, it’s usually in big thick fillets. This was a more Japanese-style experience, fish cooked whole with head and tail intact.

So, I obtained the fish (and some potatoes, to make me feel better):

Misgivings start here...

Misgivings start here…

Sanma is actually at it’s peak in autumn, which I knew…except that in autumn, you can’t find anyone who will sell you one sanma fish. They come in packs of three at least. I ended up waiting until the end of January, when they finally started to appear individually. I grabbed a produce bag and selected this fine specimen.

Normally, I don’t have a problem with my food having a face. Especially in this case – alive, it was a fish, big deal? Dead, it was highly tasty.

There was just one obstacle – gutting the fish.

I didn’t think it would be an issue. I’ve dissected things. I’ve handle meat and dead animals. I didn’t want to have to eat around the guts, so they had to go. I picked up the fish and my sharpest knife, standing over the sink as my brain cheered things like, “Yeah! Go for it! Don’t be a wuss! Get those guts out!”

I cut along the belly from just behind the gills all the way down. It cut easily until I got near the tail and I wondered where I should stop. That looked like the fish’s anus, which is presumably where the guts would stop…

Abruptly my brain switched from cheering to: “Ewwwwwwww!”

Then it started muttering about offal.

Needless to say, it took a few minutes to work up to sticking my fingers into the cavity and yanking out the digestive track (bless fish for having such simple organ systems).

Disemboweled and ready to roll.

Disemboweled and ready to roll.

I prepared the fish following these instructions, while the potatoes got this treatment. The fish was cooked in my fish grill, a shoebox-sized gas oven that is part of the same system as my gas burners. The potatoes were baked in my microwave oven, which has an actual oven setting.

Okay, much better.

Okay, much better.

I didn’t use enough salt on the fish and the potatoes were strangely sweet, but everything was quite tasty otherwise. Sanma can be messy to eat if you don’t know how to remove the bones, but I managed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m done food-blogging for the forseeable future.


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Found Here and There

Every once and awhile I come upon things here that are so odd, or cute, or neat that I have to share. And I do! With my parents on Skype…

So for today’s post, I thought I’d show you some odd/interesting things that have popped up in my life recently.

Chopsticks that double as a fork and spoon.

Chopsticks that double as a fork and spoon.

Heavy cream that came packaged with a piping tip and bag for decorating.

Heavy cream that came packaged with a piping tip and bag for decorating.

Wee can of beer. I only needed a small amount for the fondue...

Wee can of beer. I only needed a small amount for the fondue…


Note: This post was written Jan. 8 and scheduled for Jan. 11. As of it’s publishing, I am down south, freezing my butt off in Aomori (pictures next week).

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Photo Monday – Wedding Preview

As some of you may know, I attended my supervisor’s wedding just before Christmas. I’m hoping to do a whole post on it next week, but have this mosaic of the food for now.


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12 on the…er, 17th?

The idea behind twelve on the twelfth is to take 12 pictures on the twelfth of the month. Unfortunately, this month, the twelfth fell on Friday. So besides the fact that it can be hard for me to get a hold of a computer after 5PM, I definitely wasn’t going to be able to upload pictures over the weekend.

Also, the kid broke my camera and there was a mild amount of panic before the host family loaned me their old one. I loaded my card into it and was off.

First, a tribute to the dead camera. If you look closely, you can see that the outermost lens piece is dented in such a way that the camera won’t turn off. It’s appreantly irreparable in Japan, but a replacement is forthcoming.

Breakfast! About half the time, breakfast is Western style – some form of bread (toast or raisin roll), egg (fried or boiled), a little bit of lettuce and some ham. Otherwise it’s rice, miso soup, and some veggies. I always drink mugi-cha or barley tea in the morning, since the only milk they have is whole milk and I’d rather not puke on the way to school.

*sigh* I really wonder what the camera thouht I was focusing on. In most parts of Japan, people can park their bikes almost anywhere around the subway station, for free. Most of the time, they don’t even lock them up. However, near my station, you have to hook your bike up to this little doo-dad and pay a 100 yen to get it back at the end of the day. The cause of much griping on my host father’s part.

Side note – it feels really strange to refer to my host-parents as “parents.” There’s no physically possible way for them to have a daughter my age. At all.

After a twenty-minute bike ride (parking space finding time included), a fifteen minute subway ride and a ten minute walk, I arrive at Nanzan University.

Typically, everyone gathers around the building that holds the Center for Japanese Studies office until it opens at 9AM. There’s usually stuff about moved or cancelled classes, corrected quizzes, and ‘you lost something, please come pick it up’ notifications in our student boxes, so it’s a good place to start the day.

You’ll just have to imagine me sitting in Japanese class for the next three hours, as I didn’t think they’d take kindly to pictures being taken.

Instead, have a picture of one of the classroom buildings. Most of us had forgotten that Nanzan was a Christian unversity (though, a rather lax one) until we saw this.

Japanese class ends around lunchtime everyday and most of us tromp down the hill to eat at one of the school cafeterias. The food is okay and it’s cheaper than a hot meal might cost elsewhere.

Lunch for me is usually tonkotsu ramen at the cheapest cafteria…

…and something to drink from the vending machine. While you can find almost anything to drink in one of these things, including beer and hot tea, Japan is sadly lacking in the food vending department. I’ve yet to see anything besides ice cream offered.

Lunch is usually followed by more classes or, on this particular day, a trip to the computer lab with Joanna to check our e-mail and Facebook. Technically, we shouldn’t be doing this, but many of us don’t have access at home and bend the rules a little.

The way home can be…daunting. This is a hill I climb in the morning and skid down in the afternoon on the way to the subway station from school.

Finally, I leave you with an image that represents a lot of my time here – waiting for the darn train to show up.

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Food thus far

Eating has been an interesting experience for the past two weeks or so. Sometimes it’s been gross, sometimes it’s been beyond delicious, and sometimes it’s been so difficult we feared starvation.

One of the first ‘meals’ many of us had this trip was whatever convenience store food we could scrounge our first night in Nagoya. From then on, on our orientation trip at least, breakfast and dinner were provided, while we pursued lunch on our own. We didn’t complain much.

Mostly because dinner looked like this (the writing near the bottom of the tray means that mine is free from peppers).

Or this. This was actually eaten on a boat on our way to watch cormorant fishing. At this point we were getting a little weary of snapping the heads off of shrimp (the raw ones have raspberry-blue brains) and trying to figure out how to pull apart the fish in order to extract some nutritional value.

We weren’t too shabby at finding food ourselves, though.

Many of us had chasshumen (ramen with pork) at the same shop both days we were in Inuyama for orientation.

Finally, a few other food points that caught my attention.

This is, I believe, a sort of cucumber onna stick. Not intended for ease of cooking – I found it in the takeout section of the convenience store.

A yakisoba (grilled noodles) sandwich, found in the same area. No, I didn’t buy either of these. At this point, most of us were still ice cream fiends, due to the weather.

That’s all foodwise, for now. I’ve been having trouble finding the time and the capacity to upload photos to the internet, so my list of planned posts is growing rapidly, while my posting slows. So far, I have a photo tour of the neighborhood around my host family’s apartment building and pictures from my visit to a cat cafe set to go up sometime in the next week. On Friday, I’m also planning on doing ’12 on the 12th,’ a set of twelve pictures taken on the 12th of the month, hopefully to give you guys some idea of my daily routine.


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Fourth Impressions

Okay, so. First off, I didn’t expect getting a hold of the internet, let alone enough time to compose a blog entry, to take so long. Unfortunately, Japan has not turned itself into one giant wireless hotspot since I was last here, so I have been depending on stealing the inn’s cable internet and, as of today, snatches of computer time here at Nanzan University.

Anyways, first thoughts.

It’s hot. It’s really, honestly, murderously hot. Add to that 90% humidity that results in the occasional downpour, and you have 26 very unhappy American college students. The orientation trip in Inuyama turned out to be a lot better than I had feared. Inuyama is about an hour’s bus trip outside of Nagoya, thought we never really leave civilization. We stayed at a traditional Japanese inn (a ryokan), called Geihanryo.

It was a neat place – our IES guides made sure we did a lot of neat things; we ate traditional inn fare, visited the local castle, and saw a demonstration of cormorant fishing. I’m planning on doing a few more detailed posts at a later date, when I have more time, but for now I’ll leave you with some highlights from the past few days.

This is Inuyama-jo, which was seriously about 100m away from the inn. The second day, English-speaking Japanese volunteers led us around the whole castle. Very cool.

After the castle tour, we were treated to an abbreviated Japanese tea ceremony.

Finally, the ramen shop where almost everyone ate lunch both days that we were there. Tiny little place, run by an older couple with a little help from their elementary-school-aged nephew. Lots of fun sitting at the bar and slurping down noodles.

Starting from tomorrow, I hope to have more regular internet access, though it’s likely I won’t be doing any posting on the weekends. I’m planning my next entry about food, though, coming sometime next week!


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