Once a year, my family makes a tradition of going to Naka Minato in Ibaraki Prefecture to buy monkfish.
The fresh fish stores that line the hundreds of meters along the quay of the Naka Minato fishing port are spectacular and fun to see and buy.
This is a far cry from the fish sold in small packets at the supermarket. The fish are still in their original form, and many varieties are displayed in large quantities.
Buy the monkfish you are looking for.
As you might expect, it is impossible to buy a whole fish and cook it at home. Even I am not willing to try it, just for the sake of trying it. It is difficult to cut a monkfish on a cutting board because of its squishy body. Therefore, it is common to cut monkfish by hanging it on a hook and then cutting it while it is hanging down.
Monkfish is seasonal. Since monkfish is in season during the cold season, it is too late to go to Nakaminato in April if you happen to be in the cold. Therefore, you should make plans to go to Nakaminato as soon as you feel that it is cold. It is not a good idea to rush when you think “It’s getting warmer.
Also, the roads in places like Nakaminato and Oarai are very busy. It is better to go there early in the day and leave as soon as possible. If you plan to arrive in Nakaminato around noon and stop here and there for sightseeing on the way to Nakaminato, you may get stuck in heavy traffic long before you get there.
Mexicali, a deep-sea fish, is a specialty of Naka Minato.
I only know how to eat it fried, so I dust it with flour and fry it every time. Just a little salt and pepper mixed into the batter is good enough.
Many people cut off the head and throw it away before frying, but I’m a cheap bastard, so I cook them with the head intact.
It’s good, but it’s not the kind of good you can eat several bowls of rice with! It’s not the “I could eat several bowls of rice with this! It is more of a “50% rarity, 30% crunchiness, 20% flavor” kind of flavor. If it were just about the taste, the roe-less Shishamo would probably be better. But I bought it in Nakaminato! It is a very pleasant memory of the trip.
Later that day, I was surprised to find that mehikari was sold at the famous fresh fish restaurant “Yoshiike” in Okachimachi at a price not much different from the price in Nakaminato. I had thought that mehikari was hard to find in Tokyo.
The price in Nakaminato was cheaper, but considering the cost of the car, Yoshiike was cheaper overall. Well, let’s pretend we didn’t see it. I thought the taste of traveling and the atmosphere were priceless.
Fillet of monkfish.
When making monkfish nabe, I always wonder whether to buy a package of large ankimo fillets or a package of small fillets. The monkfish liver is the most important feature of monkfish hot pot, but it almost disappears when dissolved in miso. Since I am not making monkfish soup, I want the ingredients to be somewhat solid, and as they say in “the seven things you need to know about monkfish,” every part of it is edible, including the fins and skin. Some of the parts are not very good, but that is the way it is supposed to be.
So even though I want the ankimo, I would choose a well-balanced package of fillets that also has the other ingredients.
Since it was a fresh fish store in Naka Minato, we naturally assumed that the monkfish we bought was from off the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture, but the one we bought had a sticker that said “From Hokkaido. Oh, really?
There were other cheap monkfish, so I asked the clerk about them, and he told me that the cheap ones were from overseas.
Since we went all the way to Nakaminato to buy food, we have to be careful in choosing our ingredients. There is a possibility that we might end up buying something that makes no sense for us to go to Naka Minato.
Make a lot of anko-nabe in a wok.
Of course, since I couldn’t eat it all at once, I had to divide it into two or three portions; after the second time, the gelatinous substance from the monkfish meat made the contents of the storage container harden like boiled rice. After the second time, the gelatinous substance from the monkfish meat causes the contents of the storage container to harden like boiled rice.
Chop the monkfish with a knife, sauté lightly in a pan to release the flavor, then stir-fry with miso before dissolving in water. The result is a unique, rich and delicious flavor. It is a richness that cannot be achieved in any other nabe.
I am glad that we could safely have monkfish hot pot again this year.
I would like to create “annual events in my family” of various sizes so that we can talk together as a family about how happy we were to have “◯◯” this year and look forward to next year’s event.