Arani is the best way to enjoy the meaty head part (cheak, neck and collar) and meaty bone of fish, which we call ‘ara’. Snapper/tai sea bream, hamachi/buri yellowtail, fluke/flounder and sake salmon are fit for Arani. When fish is small the head is cut in half and cooked as is. For large head – yellowtail or salmon – we cut it into bite sized pieces and cook. Arani uses sugar, shoyu and mirin to flavor the simmered fish. Fish is strongly flavored.
Head of snapper, cut into halves (1.5 pound fish)
Sliced ginger and julienned ginger
1. Blanch the fish head in boiling water for 20 seconds or until the surface of the fish turns white.
2. Immediately remove the fish head from the water and transfer it to a bowl of cold water. Gently clean the fish with fingers and remove all scales, coagulated blood and slipperiness on the skin.
3. In a shallow pot where fish can comfortably fit without overlapping add 1/4 cup of sake and 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Have a kettle of boiling water at hand.
4. Add the fish heads to the pot. Add additional boiling water to the pot until the fish head is barely covered.
5. On simmering, add 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, cover with parchment paper drop-lid and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon shoyu to the pot and cook until the cooking liquid is reduced to 1/3 of the original volume. Add 2 tablespoons of mirin. While cooking baste the fish head with the cooking liquid. Fish head gradually acquires shiny appearance. Turn off the heat and serve the fish head garnished with julienned, blanched ginger.
Like other braised dish, cooked fish head tastes better eating 2-3 hours after cooking, during which fish head absorbs much flavor from cooking broth. When you serve it, reheat it.
Traditionally gobo burdock is cooked together with the fish head. I added zucchini in this dish. At the end of cooking Zucchini absorbs wonderful flavor from the cooking broth. It is a zucchini’s new flavor experience for you.
I have added the photo of back fillet with vegetables and fish soup. Very good dinner.