Unique winter delicacy, Shirako

Posted on Jan 23, 2012 in Hiroko's Blog

Very unique delicacy, Shirako

When I was small our family lived for a short time before moving to Tokyo in Toyama Prefecture, north east of Tokyo, facing the Japan Sea. When freezing winter with much snow comes my father’s patients brought to our house an endless gifts of fresh cod (Pacific cod and Alaska pollock) as a sign of appreciation. So, my mother had to prepare all the time something out of it. Among them she frequently prepared a dish called Tara-chiri. Tara-chiri is a hot pot dish in which cleaned and cut up cod (with skin) pieces are cooked in a large earthenware casserole in a kelp broth along with Chinese cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and chrysanthemum leaves. The whole cooking and eating are done at the table as other hot pot dishes. Since the broth was not seasoned, we dipped the cooked fish and vegetables in a shoyu based sauce, in which the height of the season yuzu juice is freshly squeezed in. No matter how many times my mother brought this dish to the table, I never felt fed up with it. I loved the white gentle, fraky flesh of cod and mild sweet flavor. When the cod season is gone I made my mother sure that we will enjoy more Tara-chiri next year. You can click this site to see the photo of the Tara-chiri.

Visit http://www.lettuceclub.net/recipe/dish_00001183.html to see the photo of Tara-chiri hot pot dish.

In the Tara-chiri hot pot there was always one non-attractive ingredient in the pot which I did not touch until I fully grown up. My father and mother adored it. It was Shirako, which is a male organ of Pacific cod, Madara. My dislike ness is not associated with the fact that Shirako is a particular part of the fish. When we were small my mother did not explained it to us clearly what Shirako is. Shirako has snow white color and looks like a kind of fish roe or fat and short intestine. It also presents plump, bouncy and shinny appearance. Cooked Shirako has cream like texture without fatty sensation which you get from real cream. There is a subtle sweet flavor. Today I love this delicacy, but the chance of getting it locally as a consumer in America is zero. Many Japanese restaurants in NYC however offer this delicacy as a “seasonal specialty”. I am writing this article too late even for me to try it this year. The season is already over. So, here is for your head-up for this November and December.

There is a restaurant called Kyoya in NCY. It is at 94 East 7th Street, NYC. If you never been there, please remember that Kyoya is a must-place to go for delicious Japanese meal. Do not forget to make a reservation at the counter, so that you can chat with a cool chef, Chikara-san. Chef Chikara served several delicious Shirako dishes, including Shirako no tempura. Chef agrees that Shirago goes the best with sake, either hot or cold.