Friday, June 30, 2006

the last day of june

It is the last day of June and as I dread Japan's summer, it is coming at lightning speed...along with sour things to eat such as ume (pickled plums) and things made with vinegar, another food to beat natsubate (suffering from summer's heat) is unagi (eel).

In Japan, there are several types of eels which we consume. I only know of three: unagi (anguilla japonica), anago (conger eel) and hamo (pike conger or sea eel).

Unagi is usually prepared kabayaki style. This is where the eel is split down the middle then skewered and grilled. In Eastern Japan, they grill the eel, then steam it, then grill it again. Western Japan just grills it until crispy to get rid of some of the fats and oils. Unagi is also a very popular dish in Nagoya, they have a layered dish with rice and unagi in a huge lacquered serving bowl called hitsumabushi.

Hamo has lots of bones, so it takes a really skilled chef with a razor sharp knife to prepare the hamo for consumption. When eating in Kyoto, you usually find hamo in a clear soup called o-suimono.

Anago is usually found on top of sushi and sometimes fried as tempura. Did you know that the word tempura comes from the Portugese word "tempero" (meaning seasoning)?

A big producer of unagi is Lake Hamana (Hamanako), in Shizuoka. They usually can their unagi and it is what we find in our stores in Hawaii.

Changing the subject, here are some pics taken from around the neighborhood on my walk this morning.

A camera-shy sunflower, which was actually taller than me.

It is gardenia season here, the smell reminds me of home. Gardenia is called kuchinashi (literally means no mouth) here.

A duck trying to keep cool in the Minoo river.

I've started eating the bar on the right, Domori's Barrique. It is a 75% cacao combined with pink peppercorns, mace, cinnamon & ginger. I was a bit disappointed with this one as it sort of tasted like wine.

Hope you enjoy the weekend and keep cool!


Anonymous said...

Did you mention the word unagi??? I so want to go back home right now. :-( I wanted to bring several sealed packages with me but wasn't sure about the fact that I wouldn't be able to keep them refrigerated. My sorry loss!!

K and S said...

Hi Rowena,

They have frozen types at most supermarkets in Hawaii. I think if you had an insulated box or something, you might have been able to bring some back. If not, the canned type is also very good.

Put it on your list of things to buy the next time you go home. :)

Take care.